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Soarin'
Soarin'

Opened

May 5, 2005

Designers

Walt Disney Imagineering & Mark Sumner

Ride length

4:51

Height requirement

40" (102 cm)

Sponsor

Nestle (2005-2009)

Replaced

Food Rocks

Soarin' is a simulator attraction at Epcot at Walt Disney World. The ride is an exact copy of Soarin' Over California at Disney's California Adventure.

History[]

Soarin' officially opened inside The Land pavilion on May 5, 2005. Its Cast Members wear costumes that resemble flight attendant costumes, whereas the Disney's California Adventure version uses airfield crew costumes. The idea is that guests are taking flights to California, rather than already being there. This is further reinforced in the theming that you are loaded into "gates" and with airport-themed spiels which include that you are aboard "Flight 5505" which is a homage to the opening day of the attraction.

The Epcot standby queue originally featured pictures of natural wonders from around the world, not just California. There was (and still is) very little reference to the fact that the ride only features California. 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.

Attraction Description[]

The attraction, which lasts about four minutes and 40 seconds, takes 87 guests at a time on a simulated hang glider tour of California, flying over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Redwood Creek in Humboldt County, Napa Valley, Monterey, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park (including Yosemite Falls and Half Dome), the PGA West golf course in La Quinta (credited in the queue video presentation as Palm Springs), Camarillo, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Fresno, San Diego, Malibu, Los Angeles, and Disneyland itself during the Christmas season. The last few scenes transition from daytime to dusk and then to night, culminating in Disneyland's holiday fireworks surrounding the riders in the nighttime sky. 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, and of course, hang gliding. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) at San Diego's Naval Air Station North Island are also featured. An original score by film composer Jerry Goldsmith accompanies the imagery, and appropriate scents (citrus, pine, sagebrush, ocean mist) fill the air as the ride vehicles themselves move gently to simulate the sensations of flight.

Ride Design[]

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 within consists of three rows of seats under a wing-like canopy. 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 of California are projected. The scenes were shot with an IMAX HD frame rate at 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 of steel, and 37 tons are lifted during each ride cycle.

To enhance the illusion of flight, subtle vertical movements of the seats are synchronized to the film. According to Cast Members who operate this attraction, the carriages do not move horizontally. Sensations of horizontal motion are created using a combination of vertical carriage movement and then turning image on the screen. In addition, scents complementing the various scenes are injected into the air streams blowing on riders. In the Ventura orange field scene, for example, guests are treated to the scent of orange blossoms. The mountain scenes are accompanied by the aroma of evergreens. The Monterey and Malibu scenes have the scent of a sea breeze.

Sources & External Links[]

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