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When Did Soarin’ Open at Epcot?

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Soarin’ is a popular flight simulator attraction that has captivated audiences at Disney parks around the world with its immersive hang gliding experience. But when did it first open its doors at Epcot, the second of four theme parks built at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida? Let’s take a deep dive into the history, design, and evolution of this beloved attraction.


Soarin’ first opened its doors at Epcot, one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida, on May 5, 2005. This followed the successful debut of the original ride, Soarin’ Over California, at Disney California Adventure on February 8, 2001.

A Soaring Debut

Soarin’ first opened its doors at Epcot on May 5, 2005. This followed the successful debut of the original ride, Soarin’ Over California, at Disney California Adventure on February 8, 2001. The immense popularity of the original ride led to its replication at Epcot, where it quickly became a fan favorite.

The Inspiration Behind Soarin’

In 1996, Disney Imagineers were constructing an attraction for Disney California Adventure Park. The original concept, named “Ultraflight,” aimed to simulate a motion ride that lifted guests into the air over a gigantic OMNIMAX screen, giving them the sensation of hang-gliding over California. The idea faced some challenges, but Disney Imagineer Mark Sumner eventually figured out how to create the desired sensation. The ride officially opened at Disney California Adventure Park in 2001 under the name “Soarin’ Over California” and quickly became a popular attraction, leading to its expansion to other Disney parks.

Evolution of Soarin’

Soarin’ has undergone significant changes since its opening. The original Soarin’, known as Soarin’ Over California, took guests on a flight over various California landmarks. However, in 2016, both versions of the ride were replaced with a new version called Soarin’ Around the World. This updated version features 13 different scenes from various locations across six continents, including the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China. The new version also has more intense scenes and a heavier use of scents to enhance the immersive experience.

Unique Features of Soarin’

Soarin’ incorporates several unique technology and design features to create an immersive flight simulation experience. Some of these features include a mechanical lift system, an 80-foot concave, 180-degree OMNIMAX laser projection screen, motion-based ride technology, multi-sensory experiences, high-definition imagery, transitions between scenes, and a global scope, covering locations in six of the world’s continents.

Reception and Popularity of Soarin’

Despite the changes and updates to the attraction, Soarin’ has maintained its popularity and positive reception over the years. The immersive experience, stunning visuals, and thrilling yet smooth ride continue to make it a must-see attraction for guests of all ages who meet the height requirement.

Fun Facts About Soarin’

There’s more to Soarin’ than meets the eye. Here are some fun facts and trivia that every fan of the ride should know:

  1. The original “Soarin’ Over California” ended in Disneyland, but the new Around the World version has a different ending specific to each park.
  2. Soarin’ uses Smellitzers to enhance the experience by adding scents like orange groves, beach, Tanzanian wildlife, and the Taj Mahal.
  3. Some scenes in Soarin’ were staged, and professional stunt actors were used for activities like skiing, surfing, and rock climbing.

In conclusion, Soarin’ first opened at Epcot on May 5, 2005, and has since become one of the most popular attractions in Disney parks due to its unique and immersive experience. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a first-time rider, there’s always something new and exciting to discover about this beloved attraction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the height requirement for Soarin’?

The height requirement for Soarin’ is 40 inches (102 cm) or taller.

Is Soarin’ accessible for guests with disabilities?

Yes, Soarin’ is accessible to guests with disabilities. However, guests must transfer from their wheelchair, motorized scooter or ECV to board the ride vehicle.

How long is the Soarin’ ride?

The Soarin’ ride experience lasts approximately 5 minutes.

Is Soarin’ available in other Disney parks besides Epcot and Disney California Adventure Park?

Yes, Soarin’ can also be found at Shanghai Disneyland Park, where it is known as Soaring Over The Horizon.

What are the operating hours for Soarin’?

The operating hours for Soarin’ typically align with the park’s operating hours, which can vary. It is recommended to check the official Disney website or app for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Is there a FastPass option for Soarin’?

Yes, Soarin’ is one of the attractions that offer FastPass+ service at Walt Disney World Resort. However, Disney’s FastPass service is subject to availability.

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