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  1. #1

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    Learning to Soar

    There is a lot of discussion that focus on what many contend makes Disney parks just so "Disney". Support is drawn from attractions and offerings past, present, and even future. In all of this, I have noticed one attraction that rarely comes to the forefront of discussion, an attraction that comes from, of all places, Disney's California Adventure. I am talking Soarin' Over California. In a park plagued with trials and tribulations, Soarin' Over California proved to an attraction so popular that the attraction was built at EPCOT Center and rumors persist of similar additions at Disney resorts throughout the world. I am of the opinion that Soarin' Over California, in a time when Disney parks must change in order to be "culturally relevant", proves that the "old" ways can, and do, still work.

    Story
    The Disney park experience has always been one of story. Most of the time today, the story of a Disney attraction is quite explicit. The "something goes horrible wrong" story has become somewhat cliche as the standard Disney attraction story. Such a story is not present in Soarin' Over California. Guests are left to merely experience scenes of the state of California.

    Cultural Relevence
    There is no synergy present at Soarin' Over California. No famous Disney animation characters. No Stitch. No Captain Jack Sparrow. No Disney Princesses. Nothing. The attraction stands entirely on its own. While Patrick Warburton appears in the preshow with a few announcements during the ends of the show, he does so as our flight attendant, Patrick. He does not appear as Krunk (Emperor's New Groove and related properties), Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger (Buzz Lightyear of Star Command) or Steve Barkin (Kim Possible). At the most, I imagine a few recognizing Elaine's on and off boyfriend, David Puddy.

    Presentation
    At its root, the attraction is a film. A film shown in a ridiculously complex and expensive manner. Disney could have presented the film is several different, and cheaper, manners, but the attraction is not.

    Soarin' Over California is a recent attraction that is extremely popular. Popular despite being built in a time when it is said that a successful attraction needs a set story and recognizable characters. I believe Soarin' Over California is a success because it follows the classic Disney guidelines. The attraction allows guests to experience a pure experience in a manner that goes above and beyond expectations and what others are doing.

  2. #2

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    I agree--and furthermore, I think this great attraction's scattering of failings are due to the places where it has deviated from the "old ways." The queue, for instance, is merely mediocre, though it really doesn't bother me as much as it bothers some. Also, the presentation suffers somewhat because the mechanism of the attraction is so immediately obvious. Can't think of any ways to solve the latter (except perhaps darken the screen until after takeoff), but it's a problem nonetheless.


  3. #3

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    For our family the concept of a "family ride" is important. We we go to the park with our 2 children and my Mother there are a variety of needs presents. In Disneyland we can ride a good portion of the rides together as a family unit. In DCA soarin is the only ride that we can all go on together.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    That's a good point, poohnpiglet. The only people Soarin' excludes are those who are extremely prone to motion sickness and those who are afraid of heights. It provides some thrills, but in a way that's physically very gentle.


  5. #5

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    Actually ability to ride seems to come in currents. Sometimes everybody being able to physically ride is winning, other times it is not. However, of late "cultural relevance" seems to play a larger role in terms of being a "family ride" than physical ability.

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    Mmm, I'm not sure to what extent I agree with that. The thing is, people who don't want to ride an attraction still can, and they may even have fun despite their misgivings. But if you can't ride...well, you can't.


  7. #7

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    Part of the success of Disneyland, cited by multiple individuals, authors, tour guides, travel agents, parents... you get the idea... is that it is built for the child in all of us. Minus a few very specific thrill attractions which are height based, the majority of the park's attractions can be ridden by anyone, allowing a family to remain a family and not be split up from each other. DCA by comparison lacked a substantial amount of child friendly rides when it opened, Soarin was one of them, and so prospered from the advertising and lack of competition. I am not faulting Soarin', it's simple, elegant, and immersive, but I have to say a lot of it's success is a combination of placement and the ability to cater to a whole family instead of portions of it. DCA is still desperately trying to shake off that "teens and parents" reputation the park has had ever since it opened. If you look at what was once opened, what has since opened, and what is being planned, you realize it is kid friendly ride after kid friendly ride!
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  8. #8

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    It also doesn't speak volumes for the creative efforts of Disney when what is deemed "popular" is quickly cannibalized, carbon copied, repackaged, and shipped off to all the other parks. What happened to the concept of originality and the health of a little competition?
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  9. #9

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    Re: Learning to Soar

    While I am sure the offerings at Disney's California Adventure did help the popularity of Soarin' Over California, I believe there is much more to it all. The attraction has also enjoyed much success at Walt Disney World as Soarin'. Attraction demographics might also be a factor at EPCOT Center, but the attraction is one of the most popular of all four theme parks.

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