Soarin' Around the World opens at Epcot, California Adventure
June 17, 2016, 11:17 AM ·
Disney debuted its new version of its popular travelogue Soarin' at Epcot and Disney California Adventure today. Soarin' Around the World replaces Soarin' (Over California) with snippets of iconic destinations from around the world, including a few that inspired popular sights in Disney theme parks.
The new version first opened officially yesterday at Shanghai Disneyland, where it plays as Soarin' Over the Horizon. Unique to this show is the different ending in each park. The DCA version I saw retains the flight down Main Street USA in Disneyland, while the Shanghai version shows that city and the Epcot version visits that park.
(To clarify: It's a reshot flight down Main Street for the DCA version. But it's still Main Street. And as much as I like that flight down Main Street, it's still weird for the climax of a theme park attraction to be a scene from... another theme park. With DCA's beautiful new Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle, California Adventure could have provided a delightful ending for its own Soarin' film. I'd even have preferred it to the rather bland Epcot finale.)
The concept is the same here as in the old Soarin' — we're "flying" on hang gliders above famous and interesting sights. Even the pre-flight instruction video is the same. (And yes, you'll still get to enjoy a variety of scents while flying.) While the concept traps the camera in the air and prevents us from getting too close to or lingering too long on any one subject, freeing us to travel the globe instead of just around the Golden State allows us to visit many more compelling locations. Here's the video of the DCA show, with location spoilers in the next paragraph.
The new show opens with the Matterhorn and includes glimpses at the Arctic, the Sydney Opera House, Neuschwanstein Castle, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, Monument Valley (look for the hidden Mickey!), Fiji, the Iguazu Falls in Paraguay, and the Eiffel Tower, as well as the local finale.
If there's a missed opportunity here, it's that Soarin' Around the World uses the same soundtrack as the original film. One of the reasons why Epcot's Impressions de France sets the standard for theme park travel films is its enthralling classical score. While the repertoire of California-inspired classical music is pretty thin (the Korngold violin concerto? Maybe?), retheming Soarin' to the entire world opens the entirety of classical scores for potential use. How much more thrilling this could have been if we could hear music as memorable as these vistas on our five-minute journey around the world.
And that opening shot of the snow-covered Matterhorn made me wonder,if just for a spilt second, if Paramount actually filmed the new Soarin' film.
Still, it's a fun ride, and it's nice for loyal Disney theme park fans to have an attraction such as this updated with a fresh show.