Disneyland opened early Wednesday so that a very special guest could ride the iconic Space Mountain one last time. The happiest place on Earth welcomed 87-year-old Bill Watkins to the park and allowed him and a friend to take a private ride on the iconic roller coaster, which was extra special because not only did Watkins design the Space Mountain ride more than 40 years ago, he was also the first to ride the coaster.
Watkins’ neighbor, 29-year-old Kyle King, was in awe of his neighbor’s history. One day, Watkins mentioned he hadn’t been on the ride in 13 years. So, King got in touch with Disneyland and arranged for a private ride.
Watkins, who walks with a cane and sometimes needs a wheelchair to get around, said it would be his last time on the ride. Cast members let them ride the coaster twice, once with the lights turned on so he could see his handy work and another time with all the lights out, the way millions of us experience the ride since 1975.