Let me just say for the record that the Flight To Mars at Seattle Center was never a “rite of passage.” Whoever wrote that was either doing so tongue-in-cheek or somebody lied to them for a joke. It was the single lamest ride at Seattle Center, and because it was so junior varsity, it was hilarious.
It was one of the original rides at the 1962 World’s Fair. (This was the first World’s Fair after WW II, and to Seattle it was a big deal.)
You could hear the big pirate head laughing from quite a ways away. The head was huge, and it was attached to the top of the marquis for the ride. It had a patch over one eye, and the jaw wobbled up and down in pseudo-pirate-laugh, “har, har, har!”
The Flight To Mars was the single corniest, most transparently fake ride at the Center. It reminded us that we weren’t in Disneyland, so don’t expect anything like Pirates Of The Caribbean or the Tower of Terror. It was high fun sitting with a friend in a little round “space car,” jerking through the semi-darkness as characters in raggedy costumes made herky jerky grinding lurches at you from their “hiding places” in the walls. The holes in the ceiling and walls made the ride so light that you could see all the hiding places before you were supposed to. And you could see all the ropes, chains, pulleys, wires, ripped canvas, broken cars stashed off to the side, and the other cars. The painted stage sets were made to look “eerie” under a black light. They didn’t even look eerie to a six year old.
The only screams coming from that ride were screams of laughter. It was a crowd favorite for years, until it got sold to some fellow down in Texas.