Thursday, April 17, 2014

First visit to Disneyland, Day Two, Post No. 4


On our way to Soarin' Over California which I had heard was an absolute must at Disney California Adventure, I spied sweetness herself, Minnie Mouse, outfitted delightfully as an airline stewardess. Oops, to be politically correct, I should say flight attendant. Whatever you call her, Minnie made this little girl very happy by signing her autograph book. I'll bet the book is the Official Disneyland Resort Autograph Book--I saw lots and lots of kids filling their books. By the way, that helper in the shirt with the red collar evidently cannot talk without moving her hands, and I caught her left hand mid-motion. Looks sorta weird, doesn't it?

Soarin' Over California at Disney California Adventure is one of the most popular attractions in the Disneyland Resort and usually has wait times ranging from 30 to 150 minutes. However, the attraction is tied into the park's FASTPASS system, allowing guests the option of bypassing a long wait. In front of the building, there is a mock-up RS-25 rocket engine. (We didn't do the FASTPASS, but if I ever go back, I surely shall take advantage of that option, if it's still offered and I still relatively mobile.)


While waiting in line, guests pass the Wings of Fame, an homage to significant aircraft in the history of aviation in California. Some of these include the P-51 Mustang, SR-71 Blackbird, and the Bell X-1.


There is also a section dedicated to individuals such as Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, Jack Northrop, the Wright brothers, Howard Hughes, Jacqueline Cochran, Kelly Johnson, and Chuck Yeager.


His info plaque.


(I just had to take a close-up of Mr. Yeager because he reminds me a whole lot in this photo of a man with whom I work. I shall send him a message to check out this photo--I hope he agrees with me!)

Before entering the theater area, guests are placed in one of three preshow areas, called "Alpha Gate", "Bravo Gate", or "Charlie Gate," (named for the first three letters of the NATO phonetic alphabet). Just before boarding, guests watch a pre-boarding video hosted by their chief flight attendant, Patrick, portrayed by actor Patrick Warburton wearing the uniform of a first officer. (That was a lot of fun!)

More info about this splendid ride which I am proud to have ridden. The fact that I didn't get sick from the motion (read the rest of this post for more info on that motion) thrills me no end. What a great experience!

The Soarin' Over California is a simulator attraction at Disney California Adventure. The ride employs a mechanical lift system, a film presentation on a large concave projection screen, and at certain points artificial scents to simulate flight via a hang glider ride over several California landmarks. The ride's soundtrack was written by Jerry Goldsmith.

The original Soarin' Over California was an opening day attraction at Disney California Adventure on February 8, 2001. In addition to the main ride and film presentation, the attraction features a pre-show tribute to the history of California's aviation industry. Soarin' Over California has consistently been a popular attraction at the park despite its low attendance in its early years, and the ride was duplicated at Epcot under the name Soarin' in 2005.


The attraction, which lasts about four minutes and 51 seconds, takes 87 guests at a time on a simulated hang glider tour of California, flying over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Redwood Creek in Humboldt County, Napa Valley, Monterey, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park (including Yosemite Falls and Half Dome), the PGA West Palmer Course in La Quinta (credited in the queue video presentation as Palm Springs), Camarillo, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego, Malibu, Los Angeles, and Disneyland itself during the Christmas season. The last few scenes transition from daytime to dusk and then to night, culminating in Disneyland's Holiday fireworks surrounding the riders in the nighttime sky. In addition to the state's various landscapes, the ride also highlights its diverse recreation, including snow skiing, river rafting, kayaking, golf, horseback riding, hot air ballooning and of course, hang gliding. The USAF Thunderbirds and aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) at Naval Base San Diego are also featured. An original score by film composer Jerry Goldsmith accompanies the imagery, and appropriate scents (citrus, pine, sagebrush, ocean mist) fill the air as the ride vehicles themselves move gently to simulate the sensations of flight.

Ride design Soarin' Over California was first conceptualized in 1996 as "Ultra Flight," a name which can still be seen on the tower consoles of the California Adventure attraction. It was to feature an OMNIMAX screen with an inverted track allowing guests to fly over California's landmarks. The attraction would have three load levels and the system would operate on a horizontal cable, much like a dry cleaner's rack. This plan was abandoned, however, when it was determined that the construction and labor costs for that design would be prohibitive. It seemed that Soarin' wouldn't become a reality until engineer Mark Sumner developed a different idea for the ride vehicles, using an Erector Set and string to create a working model. This design would allow Disney to efficiently load guests on one level instead of three, thus cutting construction and labor costs greatly.

Each ride vehicle within consists of three rows of seats under a wing-like canopy. After guests have been safely restrained in the vehicle using standard lap belts, the canopy descends slightly and a cantilever system lifts the chairs forward and into the air with the guests' feet dangling freely. The vehicle is lifted forward so that guests look into a large, concave movie screen onto which aerial views of California are projected. The scenes were shot with an IMAX HD frame rate - 48 frames per second, twice the conventional output for regular films. Since the vehicle is moved forward toward the center of the dome, guests can only see the images projected on the screen and experience the sensation of flight. The ride structure contains about one million pounds of steel, and 37 tons are lifted during each ride cycle.

To enhance the illusion of flight, subtle vertical movements of the seats are synchronized to the film. According to cast members who operate this attraction, the carriages do not move horizontally. Sensations of horizontal motion are created using a combination of vertical carriage movement and then turning image on the screen. In addition, scents complementing the various scenes are injected into the air streams blowing on riders. In the Ventura orange field scene, for example, guests are treated to the scent of orange blossoms. The mountain scenes are accompanied by the aroma of evergreens. The Monterey and Malibu scenes have the scent of a sea breeze.

Soaring Music One of the most unforgettable aspects of Soarin' Over California is the serene and dramatic musical score. The music was written and recorded for the attraction by Academy Award®-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith. Inspired by the optimistic spirit of California, the magnificent score is one of the master musician's final works and the culmination of a 5-decade career.


William Kendall said...

Jerry Goldsmith was one of my favourite film composers. He was at the top of his game, even towards the end of his life.

That attendant you mention moving her hands? Reminds me of the fact that I have to be careful not to be doing the same while I'm talking.

Randy said...

Love that first shot.