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Home / Blog / Theme Park Rides, Shows & More / The Secret History of Disney Rides: Soarin'

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Soarin'

by Tad on July 18, 2016
9 Video

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Soarin' - Secret History of Soarin

Hop aboard a hang glider and soar around the world! With Disney's Soarin' ride, you can see iconic sights of the world without ever leaving Florida (or California or Shanghai). On this secret history of Soarin', we're going to explore all of the ways this popular simulator ride has changed throughout the years—from when it was Soarin' and Soarin' Over California to its current Soarin' Around the World!

====>Hop here for Soarin' wait times, ride details and more!<====

The Secret History of Soarin'

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Soarin' - Soarin' Over California

Originally to be named "Ultraflight," the idea of Soarin' Over California was thought of in 1996! Disney Imagineers were constructing the attraction for Disney California Adventure Park. The concept of the ride was to be a simulator motion ride that lifted guests into the air over a gigantic OMNIMAX screen and gave them the sensation of hang-gliding over California. However, as excited as the Imagineers were over Ultraflight, the project quickly came to a halt because they couldn't quite figure out a ride system that would actually give guests the sensation of flying over the Golden State. It wasn't until Disney Imagineer Mark Sumner created the current ride system Soarin' now uses. He actually built a model of the attraction in his own attic, using only an old Erector Set and string!

Once the ride system was designed, Disney Imagineers had to prepare the actual film of Soarin' Over California. It took them a couple of years to soar over California in a helicopter and obtain the footage they needed. Finally, Soarin' Over California opened with Disney California Adventure Park in 2001.

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Soarin' - Soarin' Queue

Like many other Disney attractions, the success of the Soarin' attraction in California led to the creation of the ride in Disney World's Epcot. A whole new building was created for the attraction in The Land Pavilion. Soarin' opened in 2005 at Epcot and quickly became one of the most popular attractions there.

Today, the attraction is known as Soarin' Around the World at Disney California Adventure and Epcot. The rides were upgraded with new projection technology. Even the cameras used to film the scenes are top-notch quality, of course! You can also visit Soarin' while at Shanghai Disneyland. The attraction is called Soaring Over the Horizon. Tokyo Disney Sea will be opening its own within the coming years!

The Secret History of Disney Rides: Soarin' - Soarin' Around the World Queue

Soarin' Fun Facts

  • The original Soarin' at Epcot actually replaced a show called, "Food Rocks!" It featured Audio-Animatronics singing educational food songs.
  • The scenes you see on Soarin' Over California were actually kind of staged! Via, Disney "planted" surfers, snowboarders and more in the scenes. Sometimes these people had to wait hours to get the perfect shot.
  • Speaking of filming, it actually proved to be pretty difficult for Disney. They had to receive special permission to fly over certain places such as Yosemite! Sometimes it took a full year to secure permission for certain landmarks.
  • Jerry Goldsmith wrote the original soundtrack, which many people consider the best part of Soarin'!
  • Soarin' takes up around 60,000 square feet. That's a lot of feet!
  • Remember those wonderful smells you experienced during the old version of Soarin' Over California? They were orange blossoms, pine forests and ocean spray!

Have you experienced the new Soarin' Around the World? Let us know what you think about it in the comments below! And remember to check out our Soarin' wait times, ride details and more.

Stay cool!

Keep hopping, Tad!
View Comments


Mar 5, 2019 at 6:37 p.m.
Darrin Haase Says...

This ride was one of the best I have ever seen. I would highly recommend it to anyone except someone who has motion sickness. It does move around quite a bit so if you have motion sickness don't go on this. But if you don't it is great. It gives you the full virtual experience of being in the places you go.

Feb 14, 2018 at 1:59 a.m.
Jasmine Says...

Just went on it today and at first I almost left because it was a 50 minute wait but at the end it was all worth the wait!! You feel like you are really flying all over the world!! It is spectacular!! Totally recommend it if you are at Epcot!!

Mar 1, 2017 at 1:44 a.m.
frank Says...

Soarin over CA was better. More personal

May 2, 2018 at 4:57 p.m.
Krista Harris Says...

totally agree

Nov 3, 2016 at 10:36 p.m.
Carlos MedIna Says...

I like soarin because the ride is beautiful

Jul 24, 2016 at 10:15 p.m.
WSY Says...

Do you know, in order shown, all the places you see in the new 2016 Soarin ride ?

Aug 8, 2016 at 9:14 a.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Hi there,

Here are the places you’ll see in order shown:

The Arctic Circle

Sydney Opera house

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

The Great Wall of China

The Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

The Taj Mahal, India

Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

The Eiffel Tower, Paris


Stay cool!


May 16, 2022 at 4:55 p.m.
Carrie Beavers Says...

You left out Figi, I think.

May 16, 2022 at 1:46 p.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Ah, thanks Carrie! Yes, it starts in the Swiss Alps with the Matterhorn, then goes to the Arctic Circle, followed by Sydney Harbor, Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany), Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramids of Giza (Egypt), the Taj Mahal (India), Monument Valley, Fiji Islands, Iguazu Falls, the Eiffel Tower and EPCOT :)

Stay cool!



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