Behind The Magic: Taking Flight with 'Soarin Around The World', Coming To DCA and EPCOT

“Soaring Over the Horizon”, the ride that takes you and your dangling feet from the top of the Eiffel Tower to the Taj Mahal to an African savanna filled with elephants, held its world premiere at Shanghai Disneyland before it debuts in Anaheim.

Beginning Friday, Disney California Adventure guests will experience the same ride, with some slight differences in the title, story set-up and ending scene, as the one unveiled in Shanghai. In Anaheim, the ride will be called “Soarin’ Around the World.”

Photo Credit: Jeff Gritchen

Photo Credit: Jeff Gritchen

The Register was the exclusive guest of Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, during the Shanghai Soaring premiere.

The new Soaring ride “is a substantial step forward from what we did in Disneyland,” Chapek said. The photography is done with high-definition cameras, laser illumination and proprietary shooting techniques that separate Disney’s effects from the rest of the world.

It has become, during months of testing, the most popular ride among Chinese guests at Shanghai Disneyland.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gritchen

Photo Credit: Jeff Gritchen

“When you're riding with Chinese guests, it’s all oohs and ahs,” Chapek said. “It wildly exceeds everybody’s expectations.”

In Shanghai, the ride’s back story is that a shaman helps each guest release a birdlike ability to fly. In Anaheim, the ride recalls early airplane culture.

“In China, many guests are familiar with Ferris wheels," Chapek said. “They have never conceived of this idea. Guests are blown away.”

Soaring Over the Horizon whooshes over six continents. It features:

-- the Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland

-- the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria

-- the Sydney Opera House in Australia

-- a balloon festival in Monument Valley in the American southwest

-- the Iguazu waterfalls in Brazil

-- a deserted island in the South Pacific

-- the Eiffel Tower in Paris

-- the pyramids in Egypt

-- the Arctic Circle in Greenland

-- the Great Wall of China

-- the Taj Mahal in India

-- a savanna in Africa

-- the skyline in Shanghai

The end of the ride features fireworks in the Pudong section of Shanghai, just a few miles from the site of the new Disneyland. In Anaheim, the ride will end with fireworks at the original Disneyland.

The smell effects are also working in Shanghai. As you swoop over the Taj Mahal, you can smell roses from the surrounding gardens. You can also smell the ocean water of the South Pacific.

The orange groves, surfers and golf scenes are gone in the new version of Soaring.

“But we never depart from the Disney DNA,” Chapek said.

The rousing musical score that accompanies the ride is basically the same as it was in Anaheim. The new score, composed by Bruce Broughton, is based on the work done by the late Jerry Goldsmith for the original Soarin' ride. Broughton's score is performed by the London Studio Orchestra.

Soaring Over the Horizon was not part of the original plan for Shanghai Disneyland, but it was added to the Adventure Isle section of the park.

“As the project developed, we realized we needed to be more ambitious," Chapek said. "We wanted a guest pleaser.”

Chapek was particularly pleased that Disneyland has an infrastructure that can handle a technologically advanced ride like Soaring.

“We have enough fiber optics in the ground to stretch from Shanghai to Orlando and back to Anaheim,” Chapek said.

Stan Dodd, one of the lead Imagineers who worked on Soaring, said it’s not the film that makes him happiest.

“My favorite part is seeing how enthralled the guests are," Dodd said. "There's always applause at the end of the ride.”

Source: OC Register

Banner Photo Credit: Disney