Take Flight over California on Soarin’ at Epcot's The Land

It's one of those must-do-and-I-will-run-to-get-FastPasses rides. A visit to Epcot is just not complete until you've had a chance to ride at least once. OK, maybe twice. And then there's the fact that guests actually applaud at the end of each flight. Yes, I'm talking about Soarin'.

Opened in 2005 inside The Land Pavilion, Soarin' quickly climbed to the top of the "must do" attractions list at the Walt Disney World Resort. On any given morning you will see people running toward The Land in order to secure their FastPasses. The "Soarin' Sprint" is actually quite fun to watch - especially if you already have your ticket to ride.

Are You Ready To Do The Soarin' Sprint?Are You Ready To Do The Soarin' Sprint?

There are two queues for Soarin' - one for the FastPass and one for the standby riders. The standby queue is interesting in that it gives guests a chance to participate in interactive games while they wait and wait and wait. The FastPass queue is less exciting, but also goes much quicker. Either way, be prepared to stand in line for a little bit.

But enough about all that - let's talk about the ride itself.

Ask A Cast Member To Sit In The Front RowAsk A Cast Member To Sit In The Front Row

Once you arrive at the "gate" to board your flight to California - notice the Cast Members are wearing flight attendant costumes - you will be loaded into a row. There are three rows per ride vehicle. Here's a little secret - you can ask to sit in the front row. Even if you're supposed to be in the third row, just tell the Cast Member that you'd like to wait for a front row seat and he or she will have you step aside until that row is available. The best part of sitting in the front row is this: there are no feet dangling in front of your face which means you have an unobstructed view.

After brief pre-flight instructions, guests are loaded into ride vehicles that feature a winged canopy. Once everyone has stowed their belongings and is buckled in it's time to soar. Now, a word of caution, if you are prone to motion sickness (or have a fear of heights) this might not be the ride for you. As Soarin' begins, the vehicles lift riders up 40 feet up in front of a 180-dgree IMAX panoramic dome screen. And yes, you really do feel as if you're flying thanks to slight vertical movements from the ride vehicle.

Guests Buckle in to Soarin' Ride VehiclesGuests Buckle in to Soarin' Ride Vehicles

The journey begins over the Golden Gate Bridge and travels through a redwood forest (smell the evergreens!), then you'll fly with the hot air balloons in the Napa Valley. The flight takes you over the Pacific coast in Monterey, and then you're flying over skiers on a mountain side - watch for the skier who wipes out at the top! Next you're coasting along with hang gliders near Yosemite Falls and then you're over a PGA golf course. Fore! Watch out for that golf ball! Blink and you'll miss the Hidden Mickey!

And then you're at the best (in my opinion) scene in Soarin' - the orange groves. Sure the scenery is lovely, but it's the smell of the orange blossoms that make brief scene so special. The rest of the flight includes a trail in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego, the Malibu surf at dusk, Los Angeles at night, and finally the flight ends up at Disneyland. Be sure to watch the fireworks at the end, you might just see another Hidden Mickey.

Experience Flight High Above CaliforniaExperience Flight High Above California

Between the beautiful California scenery, the smells of evergreen and orange blossoms, and the amazing score by Jerry Goldsmith, Soarin' is quite possibly one of the most magical attractions in all of Walt Disney World. (And it might reduce me to tears each time I ride it).

Thanks so much to Traci C. for this fantastic review of one of Epcot's best attractions. We also extend our thanks to Michael Gray, Octavio S. Neto, John Stavely and Josh Hallett for sharing their fantastic images of Soarin' through Creative Commons.

Tell us, what is your favorite part of Soarin'?

PirateGirl wrote on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 20:35:

I agree with you, the smell of the orange blossoms are heavenly. Can't wait to ride this again.

JeffC wrote on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 21:26:

I agree - this is top of the must do list for us as well. It just never gets old. I could ride it several times a day.

I love love love the smell of the evergreens and soaring just above the river over the canoers. And I know I swing and sway my feet, though I try not to - sorry people that see my feet dangling!!

Thanks Traci! And thanks everyone for the pics :)

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