I took my place in line...camera on hand and sanpped a couple of pics of the CMs in action. Their new costumes are very classy looking in neon navy jackets, troussers or dresses for the ladies, complete with epaulettes, and hangglider pin attached to them, with attraction logo motif on their ties and scarfs. Quite neat! However...the entire ensemble looks nice on guys, but on ladies...looks great if they have a figure, but the choice of neon navy does not look all that flattering on the ladies of fuller figure... It was like looking at a Delta Airlines old timer flying under the Song Air division. A bit off.
We were then escorted backstage in the unflattering area between The Land and Imagination. I was told to put my camera away by the CM and to never even think about taking pictures in the backstage area. I guess she was on to me and it worked since I felt totally cohivited from taking any more pictures from this point on...
Anyways... the CM went on to explain what 'Soarin' was all about..etc, that the queue was iinspired by airports from around the World etc etc, construction is still going on... etc etc... Then we entered the building thru a side door and into the lobby area where 'Soarin's main indoor entrance is. My immediate thought was..."nice ultra cool lounge feel to it". The FP and Standby line set up is up, and so are the FP machines to the immediate right of the entrance right where guests come out of the ride. We proceeded down the cavernous queue area and after waiting about 7 minutes in a small hallway (similar to DCA's queue), we were then sorted into the different lines in three "gate" areas from where we are led into the main theater for the show, again..similar to DCA's set up.
The show inside the theater is the same as DCA... same movie, with same smells and same Xmastime finale at Disneyland, which I love! So in that regard, expect no surprises if you have been on the original 'Soaring Over California' ride. After the ride ended, we all go out the left side into the long hallway just one level below but next to the area we came into the ride. We were then led to towards the exit, passing by the FP distribution area and out the door into the backstage area and back into Future World the same way we went in.
Now... I have to say, the ride remains as simple as it is in DCA, and fun too. An example that less is sometimes more, and 'Soarin' delivers a ride where the entire family can ride together and have fun. However...the big improvement here over DCA's version is the queue area. The queue is done in very contemporary decor with stylish attraction logo light up signs, neon lights and lighting effects. They also have a huge wall with pictures from the himalayas and other areas of the World, with trivia info from those areas on plasma TV monitors built into the walls. The queue alone is inviting, airy, well lit and rather lovely. The only area where the queue's decor goes out the window and becomes unsightly, is at the very last down platform before we are shown to our respective gates.. Here (just DCA's) the queue becomes a small hallway with nothing but a plain looking ceiling with pipes and A/C equipment exposed for all to see. I did however like the wallpaper which resembled straw-like macrame. All in all, the queue's decor elevated the entire experience in a design that combines contemporary feel with a dash of art deco to recreate the feel of those good old glamorous days of air travel.
Out by the immediate entrance into the 'Soarin' queue, I also spotted what may be the new look for the rest of the pavillion (maybe?) which was dark wood paneling and other light colors with aluminum accents. There was also a reservations tour desk which I assume will be the spot where guests can sign up for the "Seeds of the World" tours on The Land's greenhouses.
In the end...I was impressed with the lovely queue and was quite entertained by the ride again, and am sure this is a welcomed addition to EPCOT's lineup. But do take FP...as I suspect this line to be painfully slow as it is at DCA.