Thursday, May 29, 2014

Take Flight-Soarin' Over California

My Favorite Rides - Soarin’ Over California

Your feet are dangling above the clouds as you slowly soar through the empty sky with majestic music swelling all around. You swoop downwards and the Golden Gate Bridge appears below you as you glide serenely through the air. Suddenly you dive down and speed rapidly just above a northern California river. The kayakers call out to you and the unmistakeable evergreen scent of the redwood forest surrounds you.

Soarin’ Over California opened in 2001 at Disney California Adventure in the Condor Flats, an area dedicated to the rich aviation tradition of California. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the Disneyland Parks and the wait time can be considerable. Luckily FastPass Service is available.  In 2005 a virtually identical version opened at Epcot in The Land pavilion. The illusion of flight is created by groups of seats being lifted into the air and brought close to a giant concave movie screen so that the riders can only see the images that are being projected. Movements of the seats are synchronized to the film and breezes and appropriate scents waft around the riders. 

As you enter Condor Flats you see the large tan hangar like building that houses Soarin’. The monorail track runs directly in front of the building making for a wonderful sight when a monorail runs past. As with most Disney attractions the queue as you enter the building begins to tell you the story of the ride. Heroic music suggests the majesty of flight and the walls are lined with photographs from aeronautic history focusing on the rich tradition of famous and historic pilots and their aircraft. Next you come to the departure gates where you’re treated to a short and humorous video featuring the chief flight attendant, Patrick, played by actor Patrick Warburton.

Next you enter a large darkened dome shaped auditorium and take your seat and strap in. As the ride begins your seat rises into the air and you feel as if you’re literally soaring through the skies of California. The ride consists of thirteen scenes of iconic locations from all over the state. These include the Golden Gate Bridge, and Redwood Creek in northern California, as well as balloons flying over the Napa wine country, hang gliding in Yosemite, surfing in Malibu, the rugged northern Ca. coastline, the Naval Base in San Diego, a breathtaking view of freeways twisting through a night time Los Angeles and finally ending in the middle of fireworks over Disneyland.  

For me this ride never gets old. I’ve ridden it countless times and hope to ride it countless more. The feeling of flight combined with other tactile and olfactory cues such as the wind wafting around you and the sounds and smells of the region you’re visiting along with the original music by famous film composer Jerry Goldsmith makes for a completely immersive experience. Soarin’ over California is indeed one of my very favorite rides.


  1. This is easily my favorite ride at WDW. Haven't tried the DL version yet!

    1. Soarin' is the same at both Disney California Adventure Park as well as in Epcot. I think one of my favorite parts is listening to people's reactions when the golf ball is hit and of course coming in for a landing after flying over Main Street Disneyland at Christmas time. I'm both excited and sad to hear that it's being changed but I'm sure it will be just as spectacular.