Soarin', located at the Land Pavilion in Epcot is a motion-base simulator attraction combining physical motion, in-theater effects, and IMAX film.
The attraction sends guests on a sweeping flyover above the wondrous Golden State for a birds-eye view of the rich landscape and topography. "Soarin’ Over California" will be the newest addition to The Land pavilion at Epcot, complementing the popular pavilion’s agriculture and ecology theme.
The unforgettable experience combines cinematic artistry and state-of-the-art motion base technology. Guests are literally lifted 40 feet inside a giant projection screen dome and completely surrounded with the beauty and wonder of the state of California as their elevated theater seats take them on a scenic tour over the Golden Gate Bridge, the Redwood forests, Napa Valley, Yosemite and more. The free-flight experience intensifies as guests feel the sweeping winds and smell fragrant orange blossoms and pine trees around them.
The making of Soarin' - facts and info
Location: Epcot, The Land
Area of attraction: 59,895 square feet (includes ticketing area, Great Hall, skyway, Concourses 1 and 2, gate areas and two flight theaters)
Great Hall: Before boarding, guests pass through the Great Hall where five of Earth's biomes are depicted in 20-foot-wide panoramas, along with interesting facts and quizzes displayed on large flat-screen monitors. The featured environments are: polar ecosystem, mountain ecosystem, desert ecosystem, rain forest ecosystem, temperate (deciduous) forest ecosystem.
Flight experience: A breathtaking glide over the majestic and diverse natural wonders of California
Duration of ride: The Soarin' experience, including pre-flight briefing, is ten minutes. The Soarin' flight lasts approximately five minutes.
Locations featured: San Francisco, Monterey Coast, Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs, San Diego, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Los Angeles, Malibu and Disneyland in Anaheim
Scents experienced: Orange blossoms, pine forests and ocean spray
Music: Orchestral musical score created by renowned film and television composer Jerry Goldsmith ("Mulan," "Air Force One," "Star Trek: First Contact")
Projection system: IMAX projection system, with high-speed (48fps) high definition Omni-max film projectors (twice the speed of normal motion picture film)
Size of projection screen dome: 80-foot diameter
Ride system: Walt Disney Imagineering-developed motion-based technology, the original ride inception was based on an erector set model created by Imagineer Mark Sumner. One million pounds of steel provides the ride structure and 37 tons are lifted during each ride cycle.
Height guests are lifted into screen: 40 feet
Total number of guests per each ride cycle: 87
Queuing options: Standby line, singles line, FASTPASS
Height requirement: At least 40 inches tall.
Accessible: Guests in wheelchairs must transfer from their wheelchairs to experience this attraction.
Producing the Film
- The Soarin' film uses IMAX projection systems, with high-speed (48 fps) high definition Omni-max film projectors. That's twice the speed of normal motion picture film.
- Because airspace inside national park boundaries is protected, it took several months for the film crew to obtain permission to fly a helicopter into Yosemite National Park. The last time a helicopter was permitted to fly through Yosemite was in the mid-1900s, when a flood had closed the park to visitors.
- Though it may be hard to see them, mountain climbers in the Yosemite sequence are making their way along a cliff face before the waterfall comes into view. The six members of the Yosemite Mountaineering School spent an entire day before the shoot placing pitons for handholds and footholds during filming. While the shot was being set up, and in between takes, the climbers literally "hung around," suspended from the cliff by ropes. One climber clung to the cliff for about six hours before the shot was ready to go.
- Because of the status of Monterey/Point Lobos as a marine sanctuary, it took a year to obtain all of the necessary permits to film that sequence. One of the boats in this shot is a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration) boat, whose job it was to monitor marine animal and bird activity during filming. Fortunately for the animals and the film crew, the shot was pulled off without disturbing any of the protected sea otters, sea lions or brown pelicans.
- The scene in which guests go soaring over the USS Stennis aircraft carrier as it heads out of the San Diego port is unusual in that all of the Navy jets and helicopters can be seen on the carrier. Normally the carrier offloads all of the aircraft as soon as it comes into port. When this scene of the film was shot, the vessel happened to be making a quick turn-around and had not had time to offload the aircraft. The USS Stennis is the largest aircraft carrier in the Navy's fleet weighing in at 97,000 tons with a flight deck area of 4.5 acres.
- There is a scene in the film in which horses and riders gallop through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Prior to filming this scene, the crew was required to hire an archaeological team to perform a biological and paleontological resource assessment. In other words, the team hand-dusted the area from Fonts Wash to Fonts Point -- a four-mile stretch of trail -- in order to be sure no artifacts would be disturbed by the horses and riders.
- In the Anza-Borrego shot, the Thunderbirds fly over the horseback riders. Many meetings with Air Force personnel were required to set up this shot. Flight paths for both the Thunderbirds and the helicopter film crew had to be carefully charted and arranged. The jets travel so fast that they would not be able to see the helicopter in time to avoid intercepting its flight path. Timing its departure and GPS location very precisely, the helicopter departed only a few miles from the filming rendezvous point, while the Thunderbirds took off from Nellis Air Force base, near Las Vegas, more than 200 miles away.
- Lt. Col. Brian Bishop, the Thunderbirds' lead pilot, uses the code name Be-Bop. The lead pilot for the Thunderbirds may hold his or her position for no more than three years, and Lt. Col. Bishop's participation in the filming of this sequence for Soarin' constituted his final flight as commander of the Thunderbirds.