I know there are plenty of people out there that love Soarin', and consider it a solid E ticket. I personally think the whole ride stinks -- it's no more immersive than watching a movie from a swing set.
My reason for this thread however, is that this past weekend I did the real thing, and went hang gliding for the first time. That hang gliding experience and these forums got me thinking about how UNREAL the Soarin' ride actually is. It makes me wonder if the Imagineers did ANY research on this one?!?!
Let me explain:
From the few times I have ridden Soarin' the only sensation of motion I have ever experienced is the gentle (slow and fairly hydrualic feeling) movement of leaning back and forth -- the rest seems to have been left up to your imagination, and the optical illusion of being in front of such a large screen.
With the exception of cheap tricks, like orange scent (whoopie), and maybe a gentle breeze? (I forget if wind blows at you) THAT'S IT! That's the whole ride experience.
With the real thing though, there are for more exhilerating elements to the experience. Namely, thermals and wind! As you are hang gliding, for real, there is wind in your face. Not too strong on my experienc, but enough that your hair is going to be moving (about 20mph) and you can feel it's force. It's not consistent like being cooled by a fan, but rather intermittent in strength and frequency. This could easily been acheived by Disney.
Thermals are the biggest difference of all. As you are hang gliding, you go through thermals from time to time. The hang glider tugs on your harness with good force and you can feel you are being lifted higher into the sky. The sensation is much more like the feeling of Star Tours entering warp speed than it is with Soarin's gentle leaning back of the glider and pointing upward 5 degrees. What's more -- as often as you fly into these thermals on a hang glider -- you also fall out of air when going through pockets with no lift. The hang glider will drop a few feet, and you get that tickle in your stomache each time it happens. It's a great feeling -- it's exciting!!!
My thoughts on how it could be improved:
- Wind need to be stronger, intermittent, and more like the real thing.
- Wind could die down for a split second, and the glider would subsquently drop quickly to give you a little tickle in your stomache (nothing scary). Conversely, the wind would pick up and simultaneously the glider would lift higher.
So, I pose this question to you all: The haters, and the lovers of this monster sized erector set with a movie screen. Providing I did a good job of explaining what real hang gliding is like, do you think this ride would be better with elements like this? Does anyone agree with me that the current effects are very weak?
For me, this ride is NOTHING like hang gliding, but it has the potential to be a unique and exhillerating ride experience if it were more true to the real thing.