Caity Weaver and Rich Juzwiak, Gawker’s chief restaurant critics, recently ate, drank, and gasped their way through every international pavilion and theme park attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot. This is their review.
Rich: For some reason, Soarin’® is treated like the crown jewel of Epcot attractions. As we walked into Epcot on our first day there, I overheard a small girl with a set of Minnie Mouse ears that had a wedding veil attached to them say, “Soarin’® is the best ride ever!” That made me legitimately excited for our eventual Soarin’® experience. Stupid. That’ll teach me to trust child brides.
Caity: I’ve waited weeks to say this: Soarin’®...
...more like Borin’®!
This ride was borin’!
Rich: More like Snorin’®. This ride had me snorin’.
Caity: Soarin’® has no place dropping that /g/, or using any other lexical trickery to imply the ride is going to be fun in any way. Basically, Soarin’® is a simulated hang glider ride: you sit in front of a giant IMAX screen in a mechanized contraption that is sort of like an inverted roller coaster (where your feet hang down), but instead of moving around a track, you just dangle in place for the duration of the ride. After you’re buckled in place and have either secured or removed your footwear, all the seats raise up off the ground, leaving you suspended in mid-air, to create the sensation of flying. Idiotically, the ride only simulates hang gliding over various parts of California, even though there is a whole world over which to hang glide. It’s just not that exciting to kind of fake hang glide over a random golf course. I wanted it to be terrifying.
Rich: Soarin’®’s art and literature suggests hang gliding, but the actual effect is that of riding a ski lift. A ski lift when you wanted a hang glider is like 1,000 spoons when all you needed was...a fucking hang glider. Give me a goddamn hang glider already.
Caity: This ride, more than many others, would benefit from some tactile special effects—certainly more than Captain EO, which inexplicably has them. I wanted to feel the ocean spray against my sandaled feet; I wanted my toes to get all caught up in a skier’s hair as he zoomed down a mountain I like to think of as Mt. California.
You mentioned that the ride incorporated a few scene-appropriate scents, like citrus and pine, but I didn’t detect any of them.
Rich: The orange smell was legitimately the most exciting thing about this ride, which is nonetheless so popular that the wait time hovered around the 60-minute mark throughout our stay (I checked wait times so often via the official Disney World app, you’d think I was using Grindr). The popularity of Soarin’® is testament to how low-level Epcot’s thrills are. Yeah, crawling is incredibly exciting, too, if you just spent six months virtually immobile ‘cause you’re a goddang baby.
To help manage the crowds and make sure that you aren’t spending your days at Disney parks waiting in line, the company has devised the brilliant FastPass+™ system. It’s like making a restaurant reservation but the catch is that the maître d (in this case Uncle Walt) decides what time you feast. Either on your computer or at specified stations around the park, you select three rides from various tiers of popularity and then you’re given times that you can report to those rides. You have one hour, good luck.
Once there, instead of waiting in line, you use your MagicBand bracelet, which is linked to your account (and your Disney hotel room, and has clearly been tracking your whereabouts from the second you put it on) to access the considerably shorter FastPass+™ line. The wait for Soarin’® was, I think, listed around 50 minutes on the display outside the attraction. With our FastPass+™es, we waited about 10, and that’s longer than you generally do with a FastPass+™, at least in Epcot. (Like I said, Soarin’® is inexplicably popular given its blandness—it is the Katy Perry of theme park attractions).
The FastPass+™ is a wonderful, efficient system for maximizing your time at the park and for making you feel superior to all the chumps who don’t have a FastPass+™ for whatever ride you’re getting on. You watch them stand still as you fly right past them. Really, the part of Soarin’® when we were actually soarin’ was in line. It was all downhill from there.
Ride Report Card
Rich: I give Soarin’® a C. You don’t get to sit on something like that everyday. If I’m being generous, blame the aromatherapy.
Caity: This was hugely disappointing, felt like a big waste of time, and I hated it. In other words: It’s an Epcot A.
Explore All of the Best Restaurants in the World
Images via Rich Juzwiak and Caity Weaver.