Soarin’ is a hugely popular attraction located in The Land Pavilion at Epcot. Soarin’ simulates a flight over some of California’s most majestic land and seascapes. Guests of all ages love this gentle, unique ride. Here are 10 fun facts about Soarin’ that you may not know!
10. Soarin’ is Epcot’s Most Popular Attraction
Wait times for Soarin’ often reach well over an hour, and sometimes close to 2 hours. This makes Soarin’ an excellent candidate for FastPass+. However, if you are only allowed to choose one “tier one” attraction and you also want to ride Test Track, you may want to arrive at Epcot at park opening and make a beeline for Soarin’ (along with 50% of the other people there) so you can use your Fastpasses for other attractions. In other words, if you can’t get to the ride first thing in the morning, use FastPass+.
9. its Huge!
Did you know that the Soarin’ attraction takes up nearly 60,000 square feet of space? There are two identical Soarin’ concourses, and this massive square footage covers them both, as well as the queue and other associated areas.
8. Impressive Technical Details
Guests are lifted 40 feet in the air toward the projection screen during the film. The screen is actually a projection dome with an 80-foot diameter. Soarin’ utilizes the IMAX projection system, with high-speed, high definition projectors that operate at twice the speed of a normal motion picture film.
7. Soarin’ is a Full Sensory Experience
Soarin’ is obviously visually stunning. The music pairs perfectly with the scenes and the motion of the glider and wind effects make you feel like you are actually flying. While there’s no taste element (wouldn’t that be odd?), there are three olfactory effects during the ride: orange blossoms, pine trees, and ocean spray. I’ll never forget riding Soarin’ and hearing a boy to my right exclaim with sheer wonder, “It smells like Fruit Loops!”
6. Scenes Were Staged
Film crews “planted” fishermen, surfers, and snowboarders in the scenes to make them more dynamic. This was a challenge for the people involved, who had to wait for hours at times for the perfect shot to be captured. Mountain climbers seen in the Yosemite scenes literally “hung around” for hours.
5. Fun Facts & Hidden Mickeys
Significant numbers are hidden all throughout Walt Disney World attractions. In this case, you are welcomed aboard flight 5505, which reminds us that Soarin’ made its Epcot debut on May 5, 2005. You might also notice a hidden Mickey in the golf ball that flies at you as you soar over the golf course. Look for another in the fireworks scene.
4. Soarin’ Wasn’t the First Attraction in its Space
Soarin’ actually replaced the show, “Food Rocks.” Food Rocks featured audio-animatronic characters and taught about nutrition and making good food choices through parodies of popular songs. Songs included “Every Bite You Take”, “High Fiber”, and many more. It’s too bad this attraction couldn’t have been moved elsewhere.
3. Soarin’ isn’t One-of-a-Kind
As amazing as it is, Soarin’ isn’t the only one of its kind. The original Soarin’ attraction (Soarin’ Over California) is located at Disney’s California Adventure park. It opened in 2001 as an opening day attraction. Soarin’ made its debut at Epcot a few years later, in 2005.
2. Filming Was No Easy Task
Special permission was required to film many of the scenes in the movie. Getting permission from the Department of the Interior to fly over Yosemite was particularly challenging. It took crews several months to secure permission, since airspace over national parks is protected. The Soarin’ film crew made the first helicopter flight over Yosemite since the mid 1900’s. Pretty impressive, huh?
The Monterey and Point Lobos scenes were even more difficult to get permission to film, taking a full year to secure. Because this area is considered a marine sanctuary, much care had to be taken to ensure that filming would not disturb any of the protected wildlife. One of the boats seen in the sequences is an official National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) boat, positioned there purposefully to keep an eye on the animal and bird activity during filming.
Many other scenes took a great deal of planning. The scene where the Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the horseback riders is one notable example. The flight paths for the Thunderbirds and the filming helicopter had to be carefully determined. Because the jets travel at an amazing speed, they would not be able to change course if they saw the helicopter in their paths.
Rumor has it that a new film will be debuting in the future, and that filming has already begun. The Soarin’ Over California attraction in Disneyland is slated to get a film update, possibly with more international footage. The new film may make its debut around Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, in 2015. Rumors are also circulating that Epcot’s Soarin’ will also see a reboot, complete with new footage. Flyovers of the Disney World Resort occurred in May of 2014, although Disney would not confirm that the filming was for Soarin’. Another rumor we hope is true- the creation of a third theater to help alleviate the lines. Whether these rumors are true remains to be seen!
Do you hope that the rumors about Soarin’ are true? Do you think it needs an update? What are your favorite parts of the ride? Let us know in the comments below!
Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart and works as an elementary school guidance counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and parrot. Meredith's hobbies include cooking, playing ukulele, and "talking Disney" with anyone she knows who is planning a trip to Disney or has just returned.