Get ready to soar again.
Over the past weekend, Soarin’ Around the World debuted at both Disney California Adventure and Epcot. (A day earlier, it made its worldwide debut as part of the grand opening festivities of the truly amazing Shanghai Disneyland, as Soaring Over the Horizon.) An updated version of the attraction that opened along with the rest of Disney California Adventure in 2001 (and a few years later at Epcot), Soarin’ Around the World is a highly anticipated-event, for those who are obsessed with the beloved attraction and those who have never experienced it before.
Below are all the questions you undoubtedly have about the new version of the attraction, with answers based primarily on my experience riding it in California this past weekend.
Is Patrick Warburton still a part of the pre-show?
Yes. After Warburton made a cryptic tweet last week that suggested that he would no longer be a part of the Soarin’ Around the World pre show, fans worried that he was nixed out of this iteration of the attraction. As it turns out, he’s still there! His lovable, highly quotable opening spiel is still a part of the pre-show, as is the delightfully early-‘00s video that accompanies it. (This one’s for you, guy who has to take off his Mickey ears!) Besides that, the pre show largely remains the same, with your new global destinations (along with an Indiana Jones-style map that shows where you travel) filling in for the flying titles of prominent California stops from the original.
What about the music?
The classic themes of Soarin’ are in the show, along with some new surprises. Bruce Broughton, who has an amazing history with Disney, having scored everything from Ellen’s Energy Adventure to the Roger Rabbit short films to The Rescuers Down Under, does a tremendous job of taking the original, iconic Jerry Goldsmith score and turning it into something new. The score was recorded by the London Studio Orchestra at the historic Abbey Road Studios in London, and features instruments from around the world that complement the orchestra score, giving it a wonderful, international flavor. All of those familiar, soaring cues are back, along with new pieces that fit some of the new settings like a glove (pay attention to the wonderfully tropical bit during a flyover of a Polynesian island). Like everything else on Soarin’ Around the World, it takes what you know and love and pluses it exponentially.
Where do you go?
You really do go all around the world. While it would be criminal, bordering on treasonous, for me to tell you every single location, it’s a wonderful mixture of wonders both natural (huge waterfalls) and manmade (the Great Wall of China and Sydney Opera House). The photography, utilizing a high definition, one-of-a-kind five-camera system invented by Walt Disney Imagineering and digitally projected at every location (using laser-powered projection), is sharper and more gorgeous than ever. In fact, when you’re experiencing Soarin’ Around the World (or Soaring Over the Horizons), you’re experiencing one of the highest definition images in the world.
How are the transitions?
They are really seamless. This was something I was curious about going into the ride–how would they transition from locations so wildly different, without it feeling jarring? Thankfully, this isn’t an issue. The transitions are amazing and some of my favorite parts of the new ride. Also, it has an amazing into–instead of your glider rotating up to meet a blank screen, initially, there are a few seconds of cloud on the screen so that as you ascend you really feel like you’re soaring.
Are there still scents?
There are! And they’re all new! Again: I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a moment when you zoom over the Taj Mahal and smell freshly cut roses that is simply breathtaking.
Is there anything specific to each of the attraction’s locations?
The Imagineers behind the ride have tailor crafted each version of the attraction to be specific for that location. For instance, since the ride is located in Grizzly Peak at Disney California Adventure (where we experienced it), it sets up a hang-gliding experience, but this intro is very different in Shanghai Disneyland, where Soaring Over the Horizon fits the attraction’s location in Adventure Isle. So riding Soarin’ Around the World in Florida, or California (or Soaring Over the Horizon in Shanghai), you’ll be getting a different experience. It’s pretty incredible.
Will you cry?
Yes, yes you will.
You can experience Soarin’ Around the World right now at Epcot and Disney California Adventure and Soaring Over the Horizon at Shanghai Disneyland.