Tokyo DisneySea’s very own version of Soarin’ opened today (well, technically last night), located in the Mediterranean Harbor section of the park.
The 4th version of Soarin’ to open worldwide, “Soaring Fantastic Flight” is based on the popular attraction “Soarin’ Around the World”, except after having ridden it, it’s safe to say that you can pretty much close every other Soarin’. There’s just no comparison.
Of course, all of these photos were taken before the attraction’s grand opening. (They’re from our recent Summer 2019 Tokyo DisneySea Photo Report.) Here’s what it really looked like this morning:
The rain was coming down hard, but that didn’t stop Tokyo DisneySea guests from lining up to be among the first to experience the attraction.
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) July 23, 2019
By 9:10 AM, just ten minutes into the park’s opening, no FastPasses for the attraction were left.
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) July 23, 2019
The posted wait time was at 220 minutes by the time we got in line (quickly climbing to the above number), but at least that gave us plentiful time to take in the new surroundings and attraction facade:
The backstory behind the new attraction is that it takes guests into the Museum of Fantastic Flight, which is dedicated to the dreams of flying. The current exhibit on display honors Camellia Falco, a name we’ve seen in Disneyland’s Tropical Hideaway restaurant. Falco was an innovator and a member of S.E.A. the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. As guests take in the tour inside of the museum, they can see all of the adventures that Camellia has been on before boarding on her latest invention, a Rennaissance-era flying vehicle known as a Dream Flyer.
There is a lot of exterior queue, but fans blasting cool air (and warm when the weather dfools down) can be found throughout. Where are they? Well, instead of being just attached to poles, Imagineering hid them jn the walls and various displays.
Of course there are themed garbage cans…
Murals of aviation visionaries adorn the lower outdoor queue area.
Guests then enter the interior queue, the museum.
The first pre-show is something special. While hard to tell, there is a three-dimensional background behind Camelia Falco’s portrait once it comes to life. How they accomplished this is beyond me. It’s a real Disney “wow” moment.
While the attraction features mostly the same scenes from the “Around the World” attraction, There are some big changes to the on-ride portion. This version also boasts two new scenes, with Paris removed and replaced with scenes of Tokyo (featuring the Tokyo Tower), followed by a finale at Tokyo DisneySea. The Emmy-winning composer Bruce Broughton, who’s created the scores for other Disney attractions such as Soarin’, also created the score for Soaring Fantastic Flight.
You can experience a full walkthrough of the exterior, queue and, pre-show, as well as a POV ridethrough of the new film in the video below:
We thought the addition of the Tokyo Tower was a brilliant one, and the audience responded accordingly, with tremendous applause. Between the gorgeous queue and pre-show, to the added details of the ride vehicles, we believe Tokyo DisneySea has done it again, taking a staple attraction found at many Disney Parks around the world, and simply outdoing all those versions in terms of themeing and immersion.
It’s by far the best version of this ride that has ever been built, and one that addresses all of the other issues I have with Soarin’, which relies far too heavily on screens and unthemed, sometimes hideous queues in most of its iterations. Even the moderately-themed Soaring Over the Horizon in Shanghai Disneyland leaves a lot to be desired.
Soaring Fantastic Flight is Disney storytelling at its best, salvaging what is, immersion-wise, one of the weakest, yet most popular attractions they’ve ever built. The queue is brilliant, heavily detailed, and there’s tons to look at. The preshow gets audible gasps every time. There’s a whole scene behind the character, and it’s almost like it’s 3-D without the need for glasses. This is still the Soarin’ experience that everyone has come to love, except with a brilliantly themed loading area and themed ride vehicles. With the right amount of money and right amount of care, Tokyo DisneySea has successfully addressed most of the issues that plagued Soarin’. Yes, things still look crooked from the side seats…
Soaring is absolutely a worthy addition to what is already the greatest theme park that Disney has ever built, and a much-needed capacity addition to the park. The only real problem DisneySea truly has is its lack of attractions, and it desperately needs more rides to cut down wait times. Between this, and the upcoming Fantasy Springs expansion opening in 2022, the park should have the perfect lineup.
Simply put, they’ve made Soarin’ a DisneySea-quality attraction. The Oriental Land Company has once again put the theme parks around the world operated by The Walt Disney Company to shame.