I read a lot of things about how people love Soarin' Over California. Indeed, the attraction, when it's in top form, is pretty darn amazing. However I feel like people dump too much praise upon something that maybe doesn't deserve it.
I guess my point is, a guest's ride experience on Soarin' is sometimes not all it's cracked up to be. Here are a few talking points:
1) The black or white ride experience.
I can't think of any other Disneyland Resort Attraction that has this unique flaw. Depending on where you sit, your ride experience is either fantastic or (in my opinion) abysmal. If you're seated front row center, things look pretty good and the ride is a technological marvel and pretty immersive experience. If you are seated, oh I don't know, let's say third row far right (or left) you get the special feature of only seeing part of the screen, two (count them two) rows of dangling feet and spectacular view of the floor, walls as well as the top, bottom and sides of the screen.
I guess my big issue is the attraction does not offer any sort of consistency. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Other attractions never really offer bad experienes (Superstar Limo and Innoventions excluded ). Oh sure, you may not have the best seat in the house for It's Tough to be a Bug, but you don't have a bad time. In fact, changes in seating locations for any given attraction usually offer something new, something you may have missed the first time around. In contrast, seating changes on Soarin' don't yield anything but frustration.
2) The complete lack of an immersive and entertaining queue.
A winding outdoor standard issue serpentine, a unimaginative an boring interior queue as well as long wait times make for a grating experience. They put in this queue on the cheap for sure - and whatever sort of info/theme they do have on the walls is too far away to read due to Fast Pass.
Basically the whole queue is awash with cheap stupidity. It tells no story, it's not immersive and the safety film is... well actually I sort of like the safety film so never-mind.
3) The Ride is in desperate need of cleaning and refurbishment.
The film is dirty, splotchy and occasionally out of focus. The screens have schmutz and junk all over the place. The handrails and walls have vandalism, peeling paint and chipped chunks of drywall. It's a pretty ugly experience these days and the devil's in the details.
So in summary, I feel like the core ride experience CAN be really great, but it's not supported by any sort of story. The whole attraction could be wrapped up with a neat and and thrilling package (like Indiana Jones) from start to finish. Of course all of this begs the question: Will Epcot's version learn from any of these mistakes?
I guess you can all go ahead and throw tomatoes now , but I just had to get that off of my chest. Everyone seems to lavish praise upon Soarin' (it really bugs me that it has no "g"), and I thought I'd offer a contrasting opinion.
Commence tomato throwing on the count of three.