DW and I attended the Passholder preview for Soarin’ on Sunday and we were really impressed with the new ride. A lot has already been written about it, so just let me say it’s a must-do.
Disney’s motion-based film technology reaches new heights (pun intended) with Soarin’. You really do feel like you’re hang-gliding over the wondrous sights of California – from the Golden Gate Bridge to Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom.
Others may disagree, but to me Soarin’ bears some resemblance to an airborne CircleVision 360. Although unlike a CircleVision film you can’t see directly behind you, the huge domed Soarin’ screen allows you to see up, down and to both sides. The slight motion of your ride vehicle combines with the perceived motion of the film to trick your body into many of the same sensory illusions familiar to CircleVision viewers (think the old America the Beautiful in MK’s Tomorrowland and the current O Canada in Epcot’s World Showcase).
Although I’ve heard that the three-tiered ride vehicles elevate to some 40 feet off the floor, you really don’t get any sense of how high you are during the ride. Considering that a seatbelt is all that holds you in during your “flight” as your legs dangle off the seat, there apparently isn’t any danger involved. There are no violent motions, just the occasional tilting back and forth of your vehicle.
Soarin’ might give people with a fear of heights (I’m one of them) an anxious moment or two. The feeling of flying is very realistic, and a couple of times at the beginning I had a little apprehension. Not knowing what to expect on your first ride plays into this, though, and any fear quickly disappeared. I don’t have a problem with motion sickness, so I really can’t say if this might be a cause for concern for some.
If there’s a complaint, it’s that Soarin’ doesn’t last long enough. Not counting the pre-show, I timed the actual ride at a little more than 4 1/2 minutes. And it’s such an enjoyable 4 1/2 minutes that it goes by really quickly. Soarin’ is very popular in California, and Disney obviously expects the same in Orlando. The ride queue is immense.
Bottom line, Soarin’ is a great ride. Disney has mastered the technology, and I can see Disney refreshing the experience from time to time simply by producing a new film.
The Passholder preview also gave us a chance to get a look at the rehab work that’s now nearly completed in the old Land food court. Now called Sunshine Seasons, the area has really been spruced up with a bright, modern look. The cuisine will be “fast-casual,” with four distinct shops (including one with a wood-fired grill) preparing everything as you watch. That means no more fried foods, burgers or pizzas.