Yesterday, Disney Vacation Club began a new, complimentary member tour of Soarin’ Around the World in Epcot. I was invited to experience the tour and thought you might like to have all the details.
Before we begin with the review section, here’s a few details Disney Vacation Club presented about the tour online:
Disney Vacation Club Members and their guests (up to 4 people total per member) are invited to embark on a high-flying journey during a complimentary* behind-the-scenes tour of Soarin’ Around the World.
Located in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort, this newly re-imagined attraction features all-new digital screens and projection systems—for a truly immersive experience.
Get an inside look at Soarin’ Around the World—and enjoy an exciting ride experience.
During this hour-long tour, Members and their guests can:
- Navigate their way through the inner workings of this beloved attraction
- Learn about the attraction’s concept origin, research and development, and the imagineering process behind this beloved attraction
- Discover fun facts and operational details
- Enjoy the full ride experience
When & Where
Get details about the dates, time and location of this complimentary* Member experience!
- Date: Most Wednesdays beginning November 30, 2016
- Time: 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM Eastern Time
- Location: Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida; check-in desk is located between Fountain View and Club Cool
My friend and I were asked to meet my friend Diane at the International Gateway at 7:30am. You could enter there or you could enter at the regular front gate entrance. The gates opened promptly at 8:00 am for tours and breakfast reservations and we made our way to the check in desk, which is between Starbucks and Club Cool.
We were given our hearing assist devices and walked over to the area with various photos and a timeline for Epcot. Laura was our guide and she was very upbeat but not overwhelming at this early hour. She began by discussing some history of Walt Disney and his creation of the animated film. This led to his development of the modern theme park design that we know as Disney Parks. She then focused on the role of Imagineers in design and engineering. She discussed Walt’s dream of EPCOT as an experimental community and how difficult his dream would be to achieve without him present. He had passed away only 3 months after the television showing of the famous reveal of his dream of EPCOT. Roy would come out of retirement to try to accomplish at least some of Walt’s dream and get the Magic Kingdom constructed.
We were guided to the Land pavilion and Laura discussed the overall design of Epcot. She said the East side was seen with more stark, straight lines and the West side was more flowing, curved and green. Did you know the Land pavilion is actually designed as a volcano?
She discussed the importance of team within the Imagineer community as Walt desired. She said most works aren’t signed by the artist in the Disney Parks because it was a cooperative effort, so they find ways to sneak in little hints at their work like this one, single green tile.
As we entered the building, she pointed out that the interior of the building was designed to reflect the four seasons that many parts of the earth experience. Not so much in Florida though :) She mentioned the yellow and orange banners flowing downward represent the rays of the sun and the green poles are representative of growing grass. She mentioned that the 4 lower hot air balloon designs represent the 4 seasons.
We were then led toward Soarin’ Over the World. She led us out the side door beyond the restroom area. We were asked not to take photos back stage. She talked to us about the design of the buildings into the overall park. One building was painted green to blend into the trees while the taller buildings are painted baby blue to blend into the sky. She said you can see the Soarin’ show building from a few locations in the park, so it was painted to make it blend in better. In a similar way the backside of Tower of Terror is painted to match the Morocco pavilion.
She talked a bit about the ride and how difficult it was to design. She said they wanted to build the ride many years before, but couldn’t find a way to do it until one Imagineer used his childhood Erector set to design the mechanism that would become Soarin’ It would take 5 years to design and build the massive armature for the ride. The ride debuted in California Adventure in 2001 and didn’t come to Walt Disney World until 2005.
She showed us one of the scent canisters that are used to inject the smells that make the ride really seal into your memory. The one she displayed had the smell of pine that was used on the former version. She said many malls and stores use similar scent injection canisters. She talked about the new smells of grass (Africa), rose (India) and ocean (Fiji). I mentioned that I thought the India scene smelled like Jasmine and she said that it is actually rose and roses are common in their cultural experience.
We were taken through the Fastpass+ line about 8:45am to experience an exclusive ride. There were only about 16 people on the tour, so we all had terrific views from section B. I was on my favorite row of B1 which is the top row, center section.
She narrated a little while we rode Soarin’. She told us in advance that we could turn off our ear piece, if we desired. I chose to leave it on as I’ve ridden a number of times and was interested in the discussion. She pointed out when the scent canisters were charging and dispensing. She said the ride is designed to re-circulate the air really quickly so the scents aren’t left in the air for the next ride.
After the ride we took a brief look into the pit and at the ride mechanism while they loaded regular day guests. After the tour she allowed us to take a photo of the map that displays the pin points for each section of the film. If you aren’t aware, the final scene of Soarin’ Around the World is different in each park. Here, we end with Epcot, in California it ends with Disneyland and Shanghai ends with their park. I still think it’s funny that they filmed the Epcot scene so it looks like fireworks are being shot from the parking lot instead of World Showcase.
The new Disney Vacation Club Soarin’ Around the World Tour was fun and we learned a few details that we didn’t know along the way. I liked seeing the actual scent canisters. Laura was a great host. Thanks to Diane for inviting me and my friend along to experience the tour!