Soarin' over California at
Disney World in Florida
Soarin' over California is Epcot's newest thrill ride. Thrill ride? OK, maybe not a thrill ride, but it is the newest E-ticket ride. It's located in the back of the Land Pavilion on the lower floor.
Why did Disney use the film from California? Have you ever flown over Central Florida? There's not a lot of beautiful scenery (outside of the theme parks). Yes, I know, California is never mentioned, but it's the same movie they use in the Disneyland attraction.
A big part of the ride is the interactive games you get to play while you wait in line. It's a good thing these games are pretty good, because lines for this ride tend to be very long.
Disney has outdone themselves with the preshow for Soarin'. Disney has created the world's largest interactive video game. It's a game that's controlled by body movement of the guests waiting in line.
Dad spends a lot of time talking about how to avoid lines. Everyone should experience the video game walls at least once. It's a great way to pass the time.
After waiting in line you are ushered into "gates" for a pre briefing and loading. You are shown a video that explains how to get on the ride and how to buckle your seat belt and all the other standard Disney pre-ride information.
Take small children by the hand...
In this ride Uncle Walt's boys wanted to create the illusion of hang gliding.
Photo by Jeff_B
You enter the ride area you are led to one of three levels. There's no real difference in where you sit. Everyone gets about the same view. You walk into the ride area and are led to a oversized erector set that has a row of seats where you sit down and strap in. (It's a seat belt system like the ones in Star Tours and Body Wars.)
Once everyone is securely confined, the movie starts with you running toward the edge of a cliff and jumping off. (Who was the first person to actually try this?) For the next 5 minutes you fly through scenes from California. Dad's favorite was the golf scene. It's amazing how easy it is to see a golf ball coming right at you.
Not only do you feel like you are flying but you actually feel the air rushing through your hair. Disney continues to create great illusions with smells that are appropriate to what's being shown on the screen. You can also fee the wind through your hair as you fly through the adventure.
After a few short minutes you settle back to earth again. Yes, the ride vehicle does move. You unbuckle your seatbelts and exit the ride area.
The postshow for this ride is walking through really a neat concrete canyon looking up at silly people that are going to be standing in line for a long time. (It's really cool.)
This ride has some of the longest lines anywhere in Disney World. Why? You can only get (for the sake of easy arithmetic) 90 on the ride every 6 minutes. That's less than 900 guests per hour. Figure on a slow day there are 30,000 guests in Epcot. It would take over 33 hours to get them all through the ride.
FastPass is the way to go for this attraction. If you intend to ride Soarin' you should go directly to the Land Pavilion as soon as you can and either ride the ride (if the line is less than 30 minutes) or grab a FASTPASS and come when your time arrives.
If you're going to ride Soarin' without standing in line all day, you need to have a game plan. Dad has a couple of resources to help. First there are Dad's buddies over at Touringplans.com. They have plans for almost every occasion. Check them out.
Then there are Dad's great crowd pages. From calendars to tips, Dad has all kinds of tools to help you deal with the crowds at WDW.
Sometimes it is interesting to actually stand in line and people watch. This line is really good for that. Kids (of all ages and sizes) really get involved with the interactive games. Competitions between groups are normal. You can really see some interesting people. (Here a story about Dad and family standing in line at Soarin'.)
Here is the official trailer for the ride.
Here are some interesting tidbits -
87 guests at a time can ride this attraction
Scenes were shot in IMAX HD at 48 frames per second.
You are asked to board flight 5505 which pays homage to the day the attraction opened.
Disney Imagineers actually built their working model using an erector set.
Soarin' opened in Epcot on May 5, 2005. The Disneyland version opened 4 years earlier.
Guest will have to transfer from motorized scooter or ECV to enjoy this attraction.
Dad's Bottom Line
Disney's Imagineers worked hard to create an illusion of flight on this ride. I'm not sure how well they succeeded. The movie is good, the air current technology is outstanding. The interactive video boards are just amazing.
That said, Dad is not a big fan of Soarin'. I would have expected something better especially since the tore down my favorite attraction in Epcot to build it (Dad's Ode to Food Rocks.) The video is not the quality you'd expect from such a highlighter attraction. Don't get me wrong, Soarin' is a nice ride, it's not worth standing in line for 2 hours for (I can attest to that first hand).
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