Soarin’ Around the world is one of the Headline attractions at Disney California Adventure. A Giant overblown Handglinding Simulator that sounds as dull as a Nat Geo Wild Documentary. Yet this is one of the most popular rides in the Park and draws huge queues despite its impressive rider capacity! Find out why the ride is so popular in our Soarin’ Around the World Review as we take an in-depth look at the ride and how it feels to soar around the world on Disney’s high-tech ride system.
- Location – Disney California Adventure – Grizzly Peak
- Type – Giant Motion Simulator
- Duration – 4:45+ Mins
- Height Restriction – 40 In
- Average Queue time -30 mins – 70 Mins
- Fastpass – Yes?
- Single Rider – No
- Additional Info –
What is Soarin’ Around the World?
Soarin’ is a flight-based motion simulator. intended to simulate hang-gliding. However, this rather mundane explanation really doesn’t quite do the ride any justice. Soarin’s biggest problem is its packaging. However you try and dress it up, it comes across as a bit dull. It’s all a bit sciency and nature documentary, which appeals to us, but not everyone, and even so is still quite Educational. No one comes to Disneyland for educational stuff!
The ride is set in a fictional National Park, Grizzly Peak, and operates out of the Grizzly Peak Airport. The ride seats an impressive 87 people at one time loaded into 3 rows that are hoisted into the air and placed inside a Giant domed Video screen. It is all very impressive and completely belies the fairly modest marketing and branding of the ride.
The Ride then Takes the riders around the world on an immersive and exciting flight taking in the best landmarks and natural wonders of the world.
Soarin’ Over California
Originally the Ride was simply Soarin’ Above California. The ride took in key landmarks such as The Golden Gate Bridge, Napa Valley, Yosemite NP, USS John. C. Stennis, and finally Malibu, L.A., and Disneyland.
This ride never made a lot of sense at the other Disney parks and needed an overhaul that it got when the ride became Soarin’ Around The World. This worked much better, as it never really made any sense in Florida to only fly over California. But at Disneyland California, it made perfect sense and we actually much preferred it.
Disney seems to be seeing sense on this and for most of last Summer (2019) the Original returned and Soarin’ was back to Cali only, But the ride has not returned to the World but maybe Disney will permanently bring back the Over California Theme for good or just keep switching between the two periodically. But it seems one way or another the California flights are not dead just yet!
You can see the old video above, it is not as good quality nor as an impressive ride but it just feels right in the Disney California Adventure Park, We would love to see a re-shot new version of the California Film!
Queue And Theme
Since the Ride has been Re-imagined as Soarin’ around the world, as opposed to Over California the theme has got a little lost. With the Grizzly Peak land themed around northern California forest Parks, the Roll of Grizzly Airfield as the take-off points for Californian Scenic flights made a lot of sense, now these flights are worldwide it is a bit of a stretch to see how a small airfield could operate these flights…We guess Themeparks don’t have to make that much sense.
Once inside the queue line a little museum-like, with a wall of fame dedicated to aircraft and people of note from the history of Aviation. While it is not the most exciting museum it at least passes the time as the queue line ticks down. We strongly suggest using FastPass or MaxPass for this ride. Soarin’ is one of the most popular rides in the park, appealing to all ages and tastes, and as such the queues can be pretty horrendous. On the plus side, the high throughput does mean things move reasonably quickly. A pre-Show helps pass the time too and enables people to board quickly and efficiently once in the auditorium, It is a surprisingly complex boarding procedure.
The Ride is quite simply stunning. The premise is a bit unappealing really. A pleasant flight over some of the world’s favorite landmarks sounds nice enough but really it sounds all a bit Discovery Channel. That is until you realize how utterly convincing the ride actually is. You do not feel you are flying in an airplane, you actually feel like YOU are flying, like a bird or more accurately a hand glider. It really is quite phenomenal!
Let’s back up a little and look at the ride tech. The Main Theatre is a Giant domed 180° Projection Screen that is utilized high-tech Lazer projection in ultra High Res and High Frame rates. You are seated in one of three rows, each one behind the other, with an under-seat storage bag for your personal belongings. Once secured the entire three rows are lifted up so they are now on top of each other with your feet dangling in mid-air. This mechanical transformation is impressive enough and even just dangling there, quite a good way off the ground is pretty exhilarating!
Once the Film Starts, however, things get seriously impressive. The Ride seating is moved forward into the dome so when the projection starts all you can see is the screen and this leads to a real feeling you are actually flying in the movie. Wind effects, water splashes, and scents all add to the feeling you genuinely are soarin’ around the different locals.
The Whole ride system drops, banks, and rises along with the projection, and the feeling of speed and movement is almost completely convincing, you raise your feet as you clip mountains, rocks, or the great wall of China, you flinch as kites, whales, and eagles head-on collision courses with your flight path. Rich scents of Ozone, Fresh Grass, and Lotus Blossom fill the air as you sweep over Icy oceans, African Savannahs, and the Taj Mahal.
The Finale of the ride see’s guests arrive back at Disneyland just in time for the evening’s fireworks display as the ride sweeps in low over Mainstreet and into the fireworks as they burst over the sleeping beauty castle.
The overall effect of the Flight is quite mesmerizing, the ride ends and it’s quite hard to reconcile what has just happened as the conflict in your brain tries to understand that you have not actually just been flying while almost every sensory perception you have says otherwise.
The Theme and branding of this ride make it feel a little ordinary and even a bit dull, but the actual ride is anything but ordinary and anything but dull. The Ride tech is groundbreaking and stunning to behold, the experience is completely immersive and mesmerizing. Our first ride blew us away and subsequent rides have done nothing to lessen the experience.
Simply put, do not visit the Park and NOT ride Soarin. It really is a technical marvel.
Have Yor Say
Have you Ridden Soarin? How did you find the experience? Magical and totally immersive or a bit predictable and boring? Which version have you ridden and if both which do you prefer? Let us know your thoughts on the ride whatever they are in the comments below. And if you have any questions at all feel free to ask away in the comments.