At a panel during the recent Disney Destination D23 event, EPCOT VP Kartika Rodriguez announced that Disney will be bringing back Soarin’ Over California to EPCOT for a limited time during the Disney100 celebration, beginning September 22nd.
As you might expect, fans were very excited about the return of the classic Soarin' experience. And while Disney has said that this isn't going to fully replace the newer Soarin' Around the World permanently, there are several reasons why it wouldn't actually be a bad idea if the original California version of this ride stuck around for more than just a "limited" time. And here's why:
1. The original Soarin' is timeless
The original Soarin' Over California film last played at EPCOT on June 16, 2016. And though it has been over seven years since this experience closed forever, fans still remember this version of the attraction fondly. From its iconic score to the head-dodging golf ball scene and of course that amazing orange smell, there was some definite Disney magic happening that helped Soarin' Over California just work in a way that simply hasn't been replicated.
Though Soarin' Around the World tried to emulate some of these timeless aspects of the original film, with new music "inspired" by the original score and action shots that drew inspiration from the California film, this "sequel" attraction never quite lived up to the standard set by its predecessor. And speaking of...
2. Soarin' Around the World already feels dated
Soarin' Around the World was a great idea in theory. With EPCOT's international theme, having a version of Soarin' that took guests to destinations in France, India, Africa, China and the Pacific Islands seemed like a natural way to refresh the attraction and make it feel more in tune with the modern world.
However, the resulting film has been plagued with issues. One of the biggest has been the massive digital distortion that guests not sitting in the center of the theater experience, which makes iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal "bend" to the side as guests "fly" over them.
Another common complaint has been the awkward, digitally enhanced transition scenes, which have not aged well in the seven years since the newer film debuted, and come across as cheap-looking and fake on the Soarin theater's giant screens.
3. With three theaters one could be devoted to Soarin' Over California year-round
Soarin' Around the World has been subject to plenty of criticism over the years, but this version of the film undoubtedly does have at least some fans, and it's undeniable that its global theme fits better with EPCOT. So, with three different theaters showing this attraction at EPCOT, could there be space for both versions of the film to coexist? We say, yes!
Though the queue might need to be reworked a little bit to accommodate this, Disney could easily keep Soarin' Over California in at least one theater year-round, especially if fan demand for the older version of this attraction remains high, while keeping the newer version in the other two theaters.
Soarin' Over California's return to EPCOT later this month was certainly not an announcement we saw coming from Disney's recent D23 event but it was certainly a welcome one. And though it may not be the newest version of the attraction, we truly hope Disney can find a way to keep it around long-term!
Should Soarin' Over California's Return to EPCOT be a Permanent one? Let us know your thoughts by voting in our poll or by leaving us a comment below or on our Facebook page.