I had wanted to ride the newest update to Soarin’ ever since it was announced, which was during my Disney College Program back in 2015. In fact, refurbishment began the very same day my program ended. This summer, I finally got the chance to ride it. I was apprehensive about the changes, as I did not hear good things about them.
The only thing that seemed to change with queue was the addition of monitors similar to the ones at airports that post the time of flights. The monitors show trivia questions about the different places Soarin’ takes its passengers. This is a great way to pass time in line. I love that this adds an educational component to the attraction as Epcot was made to be an educational park.
Fortunately, the preshow video with
Kronk Patrick Warburton still remains. Before he appears, a
video of an airplane flying over a map shows the audience where it will take
its passengers. My first impression of seeing the map was that there are a lot
of places on it, 13 to be exact. Turns out, this was the same number of
locations Soarin’ Over California took us.
This was the first time riding Soarin’ that I was in the second row rather than the first. It is true that you see the feet of the first row passengers dangling down. However, I found it easy to focus on the screen and tune out the feet. The ride is about 30 seconds longer now, but it feels even longer than that. Everyone’s favorite orange grove smell is gone, but there are other delightful smells like roses when the ride takes us over the Taj Mahal.
The transitions between each location were very well done, even though it did scare the teenaged girls sitting next to me. My only complaint of the attraction is that they decided to literally scream at every single transition. The unnecessary screeching took me out of the moment a few times. But that’s a complaint about annoying guests and not the ride itself.
I have heard complaints that the ride isn’t “Disney enough” (whatever that means), but I disagree. There are little nods to Disney all throughout the ride. For example, the first place the ride takes its passengers is around the Matterhorn in Switzerland. As any Disney Parks fan knows, the Matterhorn bobsleds are a famous attraction in Disneyland. Another place is Sydney, Australia like in Finding Nemo. The flight also goes around the stunning Neuschwantsteitn Castle in Germany, which served as inspiration for the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Then there’s the Great Wall of China that was featured in Mulan and the Eiffel Tower, which can be seen in The Aristocats and Ratatouille. Furthermore, Soarin’ Around the World fits perfectly with the theming of Epcot. Even though the attraction itself is in Future World, it is reminiscent of the World Showcase area of the park. Both are designed to take guests around the world.
One of my other apprehensions was about the Disneyland scene at the very end of the flight. Seeing Tinkerbell fly in always put a smile on my face. To my surprise, the flight did take us back to not Disneyland, but Epcot! This makes more sense for the Epcot version as it feels as if guests are flying back to Epcot to continue their day exploring the park.
Soarin’ Around the World truly does fit the theme of Epcot so much better than Soarin’ Over California did. However, I still wish the California version remained on the west coast, as it would fit the theme of Disney California’s Adventure. This could also be a compromise for Californians as the original version of the ride is special to them. The technology upgrades are stunning and the longer runtime makes standing in line for half an hour worth it. Soarin’ Around the World is a testament that changes to the Disney Parks can be for the better.