This morning, we will focus on a very interesting rumor that we briefly mentioned in one of our last Epcot photo-updates, which involves one of the park's most popular attractions: Soarin'. This family-friendly flight simulator originally opened at Disney's California Adventure back in 2001 and quickly became one of the park's most visited attractions. This prompted Walt Disney World to request an almost exact copy of this attraction for Epcot, which opened back in 2005.

While the ride continues to pull long lines throughout the year and is still one of the highet-rated attractions in the park, most fans were overjoyed when they heard that the ride was (finally) going to include aerial views of countries around the world, instead of just California. Indeed, just a few months ago, the Parks & Resort division of The Walt Disney Company announced that Soarin' would soon become Soarin' Around the World at Epcot and Disney California Adventure park in Anaheim.

Persistent rumors about this new version of the ride (coming from multiple, reliable sources) recently made their way to our office. Before talking about the details, we would like to remind all our Readers that the following information should still be classified as rumors because they have not been officially confirmed nor acknowledged by the Walt Disney World Resort. That said, we are always very selective when it comes to rumors; therefore, we are confident that the following will be confirmed soon.

According to the rumors, the Epcot version of Soarin' will close for an extensive refurbishment starting from January 2016. While we have not been able to confirm the actual length of the refurbishment, some sources told us that the attraction could remain closed for about six months to perform the following:
  • Change the configuration of the restrooms;
  • Modify the attraction's entrance;
  • Enhance the theme of the queue;
  • Connect the third theater to the other building;
  • Install new projectors used in the ride;
As you can see, there is plenty of work that will be done during the downtime, making the six-month closure rumor more likely to be true. Let's briefly discuss about every single one of these changes.

Many Guests visiting The Land pavilion might have noticed how the restrooms located next to Soarin' are constantly busy, sometimes even resulting in lines to access the women's restrooms. This prompted the park to install signs directing Guests to the restrooms located on the second floor of the building. That said, few people actually make the short walk upstairs to use the additional facilities.

For that reason, we have been told that a new restroom area is currently being built in the space formerly occupied by the stage of the old Kitchen Kabaret/Food Rocks attraction (in the past, we had incorrectly identified that particular space as being a possible future extension of Soarin's new queue).

When work will be completed (possibly in conjunction with the reopening of Soarin'), the male and female restrooms will be separated. One (probably the man's restrooms) will be moved to the new location, closest to Soarin', while the other one will remain in the same place while also being expanded.

The construction of the new restrooms might force the entrance of Soarin' to be moved a few feet. As a result, the Soarin' desk (which is now very similar to a regional Guest Relations) could be completely removed. This means that Guests wanting to check in for the Behind the Seeds Tour may soon need to visit a new location within the building. At this time, it is unclear what will be done in that regard.

As we mentioned many months ago, a new, themed queue will soon come to Epcot (recent rumors we have read on other sites stated that work will also be done one the queue of Soarin' Over California at Disney California Adventure). While we have absolutely no information on how different the new queue will be, we have been told to expect a different theme. If rumors are true, gone will be the cold, bare walls with modern lights that currently welcome Guests to the concourse.

Part of the work that will be done during the refurbishment project includes connecting the new theater that is currently still under construction behind the existing building housing the other two theaters.

Plenty of work has been done on the new theater since our last update. According to one of our sources, the side of the building are now being enclosed, meaning that we are getting closer to the testing phase. Once all will be completed, the new theater will be connected via a new indoor walkway.

While the Disney California Adventure version of the ride recently received new projectors, the Florida version still has the old projectors. These will be changed during the refurbishment, resulting in a crystal-clear view of the wonderful natural treasures found around our beautiful planet.

When the ride reopens, it is expected to still feature the California-themed short movie. Wouldn't it be nice to have Disney surprise us and change it to the new Soarin' Over the World version instead? Who knows.

That is all, for now. Once again, be sure to note that the information presented above is still being filed under the "rumors" category. The Walt Disney World Resort has not confirmed any of these changes, other than the fact that Soarin' Over the World will make its way to Epcot in 2016.

15 Comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one that thinks this is silly to do? There are so few rides as it is in the park, why would they close their most popular one before the Frozen ride opens? I can only imagine how horrible the lines for Test Track will be during that 6 months...

Anonymous said...

Why would any of these projects require such a lengthy down time? The queue can be re-themed in a week, projectors can be installed in the same time as well as the ride entrance moving a few feet. The restroom and entrance to the third screen are major projects, but that can be done behind construction walls not impacting daily operations.

Anonymous said...

Disney probably won't comment on this until the new version opens, but one has to assume that the glorious Jerry Goldsmith score is being dumped as well.

It would be a miracle if they could keep it. I can't imagine the ride without it.

Anonymous said...

As an ex-cast member, disney takes so long on refurbishments because the details must be exact, and the detail is precise. Everything Disney does is calculated to the millionth degree, so something as simple rethemeing a queue, or touching up an attraction takes weeks. Plus, they don't work around the clock -- they work the normal 9 - 5 on these refurbishments.

I know from experience, The Haunted Mansion was closed for 15 days in Dec. 2014 to simply paint a few hallways, and replace the Load/Unload belts. They didn't even touch the paint until 3 days in, and then in the process, started on the belts. The renovations were completed 4 days prior to opening, and the attraction sat closed and unused for the flooding 3 days, before opening to the public again.

This what they should do get the 3rd theatre open and close 1 theatre down at a time with a temp queue from the exit area while the new queue gets rebuild. I'm thinking it could be rethemed to a airport lounge area. First part you could scan fake boarding cards at the checkin desk,then walk thought a area where you will walk thought fake scanners then you in the lounge area where there's games,monitors with flight times,fake shop fronts. Then you get to the front and have your boarding cards ready and then told to go to boarding gates 1,2 or 3. Where you watch the video before boarding.

Anonymous said...

Experts everywhere but at Disney! How is it that such a grossly inept company has been so successful in seperating the experts from their money?


jon81uk said...

I agree, they should be able to keep the attraction running on one theatre only at least during these works. But queues would be awful (FP only?) with only one theatre open at a time

Anonymous said...

You also have to understand, that with refurbishments or new construction, no one knows just how long each project will take. There's always going to be extra time budgeted into each one, just in case something isn't right. Even then, sometimes they'll extend or rush up-to-the-minute for refurbs.

Anonymous said...

If they remove the iconic soundtrack and the scents, I am not going to be happy!

I also am in agreement that closing this ride for 6 months seems insane! I always find it funny people complain that Hollywood Studios has nothing to do, yet it has Toy Story, Tower, Rockin, and Star Tours as 4 major rides. Epcot has Test Track and Soarin as major rides and a few minor rides. Close Soarin and the only thing left is Test Track, Mission Space, Nemo, Figment, and Spaceship Earth. That's 5 rides inside the whole park and only 1 of them is considered major (mission space, while exciting, never draws crowds).

After the crowd levels in the park I just witnessed Sept 22-Oct 1st, closing anything at this point is going to be a disaster at this park. The parks are growing WAY to busy even during non-peak times. Some days, the parks were worse in Sept than they were when I went at the end of June! Price hikes are not going to be enough to keep people away. They need to get started on a 5th gate quickly. I can't imagine what Star Wars Land is going to look like when it first opens. The main ride is going to have a 6 hour+ queue.

Anonymous said...

The "World" clips they've shown on YouTube feature new music, so I think it'll be a new score. Hopefully the original music stays present within the queue somehow.


I can't wait to ride Soarin' over the world for 2016! Awesome!

Anonymous said...

The Soarin music is one of the few, newer, scores that stands out above the rest, it definitely fits with most older EPCOT music to me, aspirational, and emotional. I'll play it while driving to calm me down, lol. I hope the new score can live up to how good the current one is!

Anonymous said...

Nobody is being forced to go to a Soarin-less Epcot

So much drama and rhetoric!

Erica said...

Is the new "World" Soarin' going to replace the California track, or will both be offered?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank goodness for all you armchair engineers out there! And here I thought all you folks did was comment on blog sites, study for your 9th grade final and hang out in moms basement. I have a funny feeling Disney will completely reevaluate the downtime after reading that it can be completed so much quicker!

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