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!
The Secret History of Soarin'
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.
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!
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 DisneyFanatic.com, 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.