Soarin', also known as Soarin' Around the World, Soaring Over the Horizon and Soaring: Fantastic Flight, is a flight motion simulator attraction at Disney California Adventure, Epcot, Shanghai Disneyland, and Tokyo DisneySea. The ride employs a mechanical lift system, a projected presentation on an 80 ft (24 m) concave 180-degree dome screen, artificial scents and wind to simulate a hang gliding flight over several locations across six continents around the world. Many consider it to have been the first flying theater.
|Disney California Adventure|
|Name||Soarin' Around the World|
|Area||Grizzly Peak Airfield|
|Opening date||February 8, 2001 (Soarin' Over California)|
June 17, 2016 (Soarin' Around the World)
|Closing date||June 15, 2016 (Soarin' Over California)|
|Name||Soarin' Around the World|
|Area||Future World (The Land pavilion) (2005-TBD) |
World Nature (The Land pavilion) (TBD)
|Opening date||May 5, 2005 (Soarin' Over California)|
June 17, 2016 (Soarin' Around the World)
|Closing date||June 15, 2016 (Soarin' Over California)|
|Replaced||Food Rocks (1994-2004)|
|Shanghai Disneyland Park|
|Name||Soaring Over the Horizon|
|Opening date||June 16, 2016|
|Name||Soaring: Fantastic Flight|
|Opening date||July 23, 2019|
|Attraction type||Flying Theater simulator ride|
|Designer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Music||Bruce Broughton, based on a score by Jerry Goldsmith|
|Height||80 ft (24 m)|
|Vehicle type||Hang glider simulator / flying theater|
|Vehicles||6 in two theaters (California, Shanghai)|
9 in three theaters (Florida) (formerly 6 until 2016)
|Riders per vehicle||Alpha 27, Bravo 33, Charlie 27|
|Participants per group||87 per theater|
|Height restriction||40 in (102 cm)|
Must transfer from wheelchair
Closed captioning available
The original iteration of the attraction, known as Soarin' Over California, was an opening day attraction at Disney California Adventure on February 8, 2001. The initial version took guests over several locations in California and included a pre-show tribute to the history of California's aviation industry. Due to its consistent popularity, Soarin' Over California was duplicated at Epcot in Walt Disney World as Soarin' in 2005. The original Soarin' Over California returned to Disney California Adventure for a limited engagement for June 2019. Its popularity led Disney to extend the run through the end of August of that year. Another limited run began on February 28, 2020, as part of that park's Food & Wine Festival, but was cut short when the resort closed on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current global version of the ride debuted at Shanghai Disneyland Park as Soaring Over the Horizon on June 16, 2016. Concurrently, the American versions were also replaced with the new film as Soarin' Around the World on the next day, June 17. A fourth attraction under the name Soaring: Fantastic Flight opened at Tokyo DisneySea on July 23, 2019.
Soarin' was first conceptualized in 1996 as "Ultra Flight," a name which can still be seen on the tower consoles of the California Adventure attraction. It was to feature an OMNIMAX screen with an inverted track allowing guests to fly over California's landmarks. The attraction would have three load levels and the system would operate on a horizontal cable, much like a dry cleaner's rack. This plan was abandoned, however, when it was determined that the construction and labor costs for that design would be prohibitive. It seemed that Soarin' wouldn't become a reality until engineer Mark Sumner developed a different idea for the ride vehicles, using an Erector Set and string to create a working model. This design would allow Disney to efficiently load guests on one level instead of three, thus cutting construction and labor costs greatly.
Each ride vehicle consists of three rows of seats under a wing-like canopy, and has a capacity of 87 guests at a time. After guests have been safely restrained in the vehicle using standard lap belts, the canopy descends slightly and a cantilever system lifts the chairs forward and into the air with the guests' feet dangling freely. The vehicle is lifted forward so that guests look into a large, concave movie screen onto which aerial views are projected. The scenes for the original film were shot with an IMAX HD frame rate - 48 frames per second, twice the conventional output for regular films. Since the vehicle is moved forward toward the center of the dome, guests can only see the images projected on the screen and experience the sensation of flight. The ride structure contains about one million pounds (454,000 kg) of steel, and 37 tons (33.5 metric tonnes) are lifted during each ride cycle.
To enhance the illusion of flight, subtle vertical movements of the seats are synchronized to the film. Sensations of horizontal motion are created using a combination of vertical carriage movement and turning the image on the screen. In addition, scents complementing the various scenes are injected into the air streams blowing on riders. These scents now include rose blossoms in the Taj Mahal scene, the aroma of grass in the Africa scene, and a sea breeze scent in the South Pacific scene in the updated show.
Disney California AdventureEdit
Soarin' Around the World is located in the Grizzly Peak Airfield section of Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort. It is one of the most popular attractions in the resort, though the attraction also contains the park's FastPass system, allowing guests the option of bypassing a long wait.
While waiting in line, guests pass the Wings of Fame, an homage to significant aircraft in the history of aviation in California. Some of these include the P-51 Mustang, SR-71 Blackbird, and the Bell X-1. There is also a section dedicated to individuals such as John J. Montgomery, Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, Jack Northrop, the Wright brothers, Howard Hughes, Jacqueline Cochran, Kelly Johnson, Paul MacCready, and Chuck Yeager. Inspirational music from a variety of films, many of them war- or flight-themed, is played in the queue hallways. Some film scores featured include Patton, MacArthur, Air Force One, The Blue Max, Explorers, (all by Jerry Goldsmith), The American President (by Marc Shaiman), DragonHeart, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, "Angels in the Outfield (1994 film)" (both by Randy Edelman), The Last Starfighter (by Craig Safan), Apollo 13 and The Rocketeer (both by James Horner), Always (by John Williams) and the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (by Michael Kamen). The Air Force Song and "Jupiter" from Gustav Holst's orchestral suite The Planets are also included, based on their use in The Right Stuff.
Before entering the theater area, guests are placed in one of three preshow areas, called "Alpha Gate", "Bravo Gate", or "Charlie Gate," (named for the first three letters of the NATO phonetic alphabet). Just before boarding, guests watch a pre-boarding video hosted by their chief flight attendant, Patrick Warburton.
The attraction opened in 2001 as Soarin' Over California in what was then the Condor Flats area of the park. In early 2015, the attraction closed for refurbishment as the surrounding area was transformed into Grizzly Peak Airfield. It reopened on May 15, 2015, with new exterior theming and with updates to its screen and projection system. The attraction now features the a Laser Illuminated digital projection array, which replaces the original IMAX systems. In addition to the projection system changes, several exterior changes occurred, including a replacement of the mock-up RS-25 rocket engine with a fire lookout tower.
From January to March 2016, the attraction operated as Soarin' Over California intermittently in order to prepare for the introduction of the Soarin' Around the World ride film. The original film was shown until June 15, with the attraction being closed on June 16 to prepare for the new film debuting on June 17, 2016.
On May 23, 2019, Disney announced that Soarin' Over California would be temporarily returning to the park, running throughout the entire month of June 2019 following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge over at Disneyland Park on May 31. Later on June 21, 2019, Disney announced that the limited time return was extended to August 31, 2019, due to popular demand.
On February 28, 2020, the California version of the ride returned to California Adventure for the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. The limited engagement was scheduled to run through April 21, 2020, but was cut short when the resort began its extended closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13.
The attraction was duplicated, simply as Soarin', and officially opened inside "The Land" pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World on May 5, 2005. Unlike the Disney California Adventure version, the idea is that guests are taking flights to California, rather than already being there. This is further reinforced in the theming that guests are loaded into "gates" and with airport-themed spiels which reference "Flight 5505", which is a homage to the opening day of the attraction. Its cast members wear costumes that resemble flight attendant uniforms, whereas the California version uses airfield crew uniforms.
The Epcot standby queue originally featured pictures of natural wonders from around the world, not just California. There was very little reference to the fact that the ride only featured California at the time. The queue currently utilizes a new infrared technology that allows guests to participate in interactive games. In 2009, this interactive game technology appeared in the Magic Kingdom as part of a seven-month overhaul of Space Mountain.
The attraction closed for refurbishment on January 4, 2016, originally slated to reopen on June 17, with a third theater to coincide with the release of the new Soarin' Around the World film. The ride reopened with the original film on May 27, with the change to the new film occurring on June 17, 2016.
Shanghai Disneyland ParkEdit
The attraction was retooled as Soaring Over the Horizon for Shanghai Disneyland Park. The attraction was not part of the park's original design plans, and was added only after Walt Disney Imagineering began development on it for the American parks. Located in the Adventure Isle section, the ride opened with the park on June 16, 2016.
Embedded into the Adventure Isle setting, the attraction is depicted here as an ancient observatory and temple to the Arbori tribe's Condor god. The preshow and safety spiel is hosted by a shaman of the tribe who grants guests the ability of flight, but has trouble controlling her own shapeshifting abilities.
On April 27, 2016, officials with Tokyo Disney Resort announced a number of new attractions for both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea parks in the coming years. Included in the announcement was a proposed version of Soarin' (titled Soaring: Fantastic Flight) to be located in the Mediterranean Harbor section of Tokyo DisneySea. The announcement revealed that this version would have a different theme, with the ride vehicles being Renaissance-era Dream Flyers created by aviatrix and Society of Explorers and Adventurers member Camellia Falco, and it opened on July 23, 2019.
This version of the attraction includes some interesting differences compared to its other 3 incarnations. Instead of an aviation terminal, the attraction is set in the Museum of Fantastic Flight, which is hosting a retrospective on the life of Camellia Falco. Falco's spirit takes guests to see some of her Dream Flyer gliders and invites us to take a flight of fantasy around the world. Falco was first teased at Disneyland's Tropical Hideaway restaurant as one of the names listed on a series of oars belonging to members of the Society.
Two other differences can be spotted in the film. First, the Paris scene is replaced with Tokyo at sunset with Mt. Fuji in the background. Second, the finale is set flying over Tokyo DisneySea (the park in which the attraction is located).
Soarin' Over CaliforniaEdit
The original ride film, which lasts about four minutes and 51 seconds, takes guests on a simulated hang glider tour of California. Appropriate scents (citrus, pine, sagebrush, ocean mist) fill the air as the ride vehicles themselves move gently to simulate the sensations of flight. In addition to the state's various landscapes, the ride also highlights its diverse recreation, including snow skiing, river rafting, kayaking, golf, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, surfing, and of course, hang gliding. The locations visited are:
- Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
- Redwood Creek in Humboldt County
- Napa Valley
- Monterey Bay Sanctuary
- Lake Tahoe
- Yosemite Falls and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
- PGA West Palmer Course in La Quinta (credited in the queue as Palm Springs)
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego
- Malibu Beach
- Downtown Los Angeles
- Disneyland Resort in Anaheim
The original Soarin' Over California ride film at both Disney California Adventure and Epcot uses an orchestral score by composer Jerry Goldsmith, who is said to have come down from his first ride in tears. In addition to finding the ride visually beautiful and magical, he said that his father was a pilot who loved all things Californian. "I'd do anything to be part of this project," Goldsmith said. "I'd even score the film for free." The soundtrack he wrote plays throughout the entire attraction, starting with a crescendo in the low strings while the screen was still dark. Numerous variations of a serene theme for horn and strings can be heard, as well as several statements of a fanfare that accompanies the film's grandest vistas. The entire original ride score can be found on recent Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World official albums, including Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Disneyland. The original score also continues to be played as part of a loop in the Disneyland Resort Esplanade and Epcot's entrance plaza.
Soaring Over the Horizon, Soarin' Around the World, and Soaring: Fantastic FlightEdit
An updated version of the Soarin' attraction debuted at the Adventure Isle section of Shanghai Disneyland Park as Soaring Over the Horizon, on June 16, 2016. On August 15, 2015 at the D23 Expo, it was announced that the attractions at Epcot and Disney California Adventure would debut versions of the new Soaring Over the Horizon ride film, titled Soarin' Around the World. This new ride film features locations, landscapes, and landmarks across six continents of the world. Unlike the original ride film, the updated version heavily features computer generated imagery. This includes animated transitions between scenes, such as close encounters with a seaplane, a kite, and an eagle. The updated attractions opened on June 17, 2016 at Disney California Adventure and Epcot, along with a third theater for the latter location. The locations visited are:
- Matterhorn in Switzerland and Italy
- Isfjord, Greenland
- Sydney Harbour in Sydney, Australia
- Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany
- Kilimanjaro National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
- The Great Wall of China in China
- The Great Pyramids in Egypt
- Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, India
- West and East Mitten Buttes in Monument Valley, Arizona, United States
- Lau Islands, Fiji
- Iguazu Falls, Argentina
- Eiffel Tower in Paris, France (Shanghai Disneyland version, Disney California Adventure version, Epcot version); Tokyo Tower in Tokyo (Tokyo DisneySea version)
- Shanghai, China (Shanghai Disneyland version); Disneyland, California, United States (Disney California Adventure version); Epcot, Florida, United States (Epcot version); Tokyo DisneySea, Chiba (Tokyo DisneySea version)
Soarin' Around the World and Soaring Over the Horizon received a new score, composed by Bruce Broughton, which was heavily based on Goldsmith's original score. The new score was performed by the London Studio Orchestra.
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According to Scholz, advances in laser illumination technology allowed Disney to upgrade the projectors without a sacrifice in the quality of the show.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
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