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David Koenig
Soarin' Off To Florida



The attraction building houses two opposing theatres.

What form will DCA's star attraction take at Disney World?

Rave reviews for Soarin' Over California, the IMAX film-based hang-glider simulator at Disney's California Adventure, has convinced Disney that it's found its next "franchise"-a signature attraction like Space Mountain or Splash Mountain that can be duplicated from Anaheim to Orlando to Tokyo, Paris and beyond.

Copying attractions from coast to coast provides a known commodity and proven crowd-pleaser for less money and time than developing another project from scratch-since you avoid the biggest initial expense, the development phase. Plus, movie-based attractions like Soarin' are, by nature, more affordable to reproduce and easier to dramatically alter. No track to tear up, no expanding the show building, no rebuilding animatronic figures; just shoot a new movie and reprogram the vehicles to react to the new scenes.

A new movie is, of course, a necessity for other parks. Just don't expect Soarin' Over Florida. Never mind that Florida's topography doesn't lend itself to hang gliding (since you could slightly alter the vehicles to create a parasailing ride that careens along the coast, sometimes even a little too close to land).


Inside Soarin' Over California.
The seating units lift and move forwad into an inverted dome 48-fps Imax Screen.

It's no knock on Florida. California is the perfect theme for Soarin' Over California because the Golden State is the overall theme of DCA. Orlando's parks aren't themed to Florida. Their themes, in fact, offer even more exciting possibilities. Consider how well Soarin's set-up could perk up any of Epcot's staid international exhibits, such as the Great Wonders of China. Imagine swooping over the castles of Europe or the slopes of Switzerland. In the United Kingdom pavilion, you could enjoy a Bedknobs and Broomsticks or Mary Poppins-esque jaunt over the rooftops of Victorian England. Better yet, after viewing the American Adventure, guests could climb between the wings of a rickety biplane and relive the Wright Brothers' raucous first spin on the sand dunes of Kittyhawk, North Carolina.

While Star Tours effectively gives the illusion of motion, Soarin' provides a more immersive sensation of flight-ideal for the more nature-based environment of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Imagine soarin' with the pterodactyls in DinoLand U.S.A. or caught up in a truly 3-dimensional True Life Adventure over exotic Asia or darkest Africa.

Disney-MGM Studios always has had trouble replicating rival Universal Studios' biggest strength: making guests feel as if they are a part of The Movies. Soarin's technology, along with the wealth of backdrops available in the Disney and MGM film vaults, allows Disney to beat Universal at its own game.

Take, for instance, Alfred Hitchcock's MGM masterpiece North By Northwest. Guests could play the villain in the crop duster pursuing Cary Grant through the cornfields, then narrowly avoiding a collision with a tanker truck, before veering onto a climactic chase atop Mount Rushmore-all the while the buzz of your biplane is drowned out by Bernard Herrman's frenetic score.

Or, audiences could drop into one of the few movies that's as timeless and beloved as Disney's own-the MGM classic Wizard of Oz. Can you envision a more marketable E-ticket than Soarin' Over Oz? Visitors could pick up where the movie left off, joining the Wizard on his hot-air balloon as he floats out of the Emerald City, back over the scented poppy fields, past the flying monkeys circling the witch's castle, over the Enchanted Forest and Munchkinland, before being caught up in a twister that sends them back to Kansas-er, Orlando. Disney could even use the black-and-white to Technicolor effect pioneered at the Animator's Palate restaurants on its cruise ships.

Equally tantalizing opportunities lie in the Magic Kingdom, with its natural tie-ins to Disney's own characters and tales. Again, the Soarin' technology could drop you into the middle of any Disney classic, allowing you to hover atop the treacherous Elephant Graveyard of The Lion King, past the honey trees and rain clouds of the Hundred Acre Wood, or along the side streets of Aladdin's Agrabah. Try trailing Tarzan as he swings through the trees beneath you.

Dumbo no longer has to remain chained to a post, spinning in circles in the middle of Fantasyland; he can break free and take guests on a madcap flight over the entire Disney World resort.

The odds-on favorite, though, would probably be to give Mickey's neighborhood its first E-ticket, Soarin' Over Toontown. Goofy could pilot guests on a wild and wacky trip through the cartoon land of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Or maybe this is the opportunity to get Roger Rabbit, himself, back into pictures.

The possibilities seem endless. Any more suggestions?


You can write to David atthis link..

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