Epcot Soarin' to close January 4 for overhaul

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Following the announcement that Soarin' at Epcot would be upgraded with new projection systems and an increase in capacity from two to three theaters, the resort announced the attraction will close January 4 and reopen in the summer of 2016.

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OhioStater's avatar

Well fiddlesticks.

Going to be there the first week in March. Should be great when it reopens, though.

The word "upgraded" should really be changed to "downgraded".

The projected image in California since the change to digital projection is worse than I expected it to be. It was really disappointing.

Jeff's avatar

I don't think I'll miss the giant fuzz balls projected across the screen.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

OhioStater's avatar

egieszl said:

The word "upgraded" should really be changed to "downgraded".

The projected image in California since the change to digital projection is worse than I expected it to be. It was really disappointing.

I'm a little dumbfounded as to how this could be the case. Care to elaborate?

slithernoggin's avatar

What were you expecting and how has it not lived up to your expectations?

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

I wonder if the new film score will reuse the late Jerry Goldsmith's themes or if they are going to have someone else write new ones. The main Soarin' theme is pretty classic, so perhaps they will use quotations of it along with new material to match the new sights.

"Thank the Phoneticians!"

You'll see.

The few dust annoyances will seem minor when compared to the horrific pixelation, lack of clarity and sharpness, and overall darkness in the image that will be projected in the digital version. Not only was the picture now blurry, but it was like I was watching Soarin' with a pair of sunglasses on.

4K digital projection doesn't even equal the resolution of 35mm film, much less 15 perforation 70mm IMAX film. the largest projected film format in the world. I don't even think Disney is using 4K, but instead using the typical "Digital IMAX" setup of two 2k projectors with the image from both overlapping. Basically, half the resolution of a 4K projector, but twice the brightness because of two projectors.

A 4K projector is not even capable of properly projecting an image on a full size IMAX screen, which Soarin' uses. A 2K projector is even worse.

It's a shame that Disney is too impatient and didn't wait for the IMAX Laser projector that is now slowly being rolled out to the full-size IMAX screen theaters, just like Soarin'.

I am more curious to see what this does to Epcot next Spring Break and Easter season. Frozen wont be ready yet, and Soarin' is arguably one of the hottest e tickets on property. We could see some long lines for Imagination and The Seas. I hope at some point the rest of Future World gets some love.

Last edited by BrettV,
OhioStater's avatar

When is Frozen going to be ready? Every time I ask they simply say "sometime in 2016", and I have yet to find any hard confirmation online (or elsewhere) anywhere with regards to even an estimated opening day.

Does anyone actually have even an estimate at this point?

Last edited by OhioStater,
Jeff's avatar

Considering Epcot Soarin' hasn't even closed yet, we don't really know for sure what they'll do there.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Having just ridden the digital projection version in Cali last month, I thought it actually looked better than how the Florida film has been the last year or two. I guess if you're into projection/movie technical stuff and know what you're looking for you might notice it, but I certainly didn't, and thought it looked pretty darn good. The digital transition will definitely be an upgrade for Florida considering how much they seemed to not take care of the film and projection system here.

I agree about hopefully keeping bits of the Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack. It really is some great music.

Original BlueStreak64

I believe I'm the only one who doesn't go totally gaga for Soarin. I guess it's ok, but after I rode it once I could never see waiting as long as you have to or burning a FastPass for it.
The most thrilling part of the ride is the sudden lift into the air, but somehow that ride vehicle with all it's trappings seems slightly over- produced. And the film has never done much for me except for a couple of brief moments. The abrupt transitions from scene to scene are jarring and a mood killer. (I'm not sure what I'd do to make all that diverse scenery more seamless... clouds?) And a ride all about the beauty of California seems to belong just there and nowhere else.

If the film quality is improved that will be a plus, and increased capacity is never a bad idea.

Jeff's avatar

I wouldn't call it burning a FP, really. There are only two attractions that really require it, the other being Test Track. And you can't get both the same day.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

True. On my last visit FP+ was fairly new so all we got any given day was two (was it three?) reservations, and we usually plan only one day at EPCOT for attractions. Anyway, my partner will take Soarin any day over Test Track. Ideally we'd have both, but in the meantime we use our FastPass for Soarin and we still have to wait. If the third theater is dedicated to FP guests maybe that will help.

And it sure seems that EPCOT could use a couple/three new E-ticket attractions.

Jeff's avatar

It is three per day, at the same park. After you use them, you can book additional, but typically Test Track and Soarin' are sold out at that point. (Pro tip: If you've seen Illuminations before, you can often do one of them in 20 minutes near the end of the day.) The other big FP ride was Maelstrom, which will of course be Frozen somethingorother next year. I'm interested to see how they'll allocate capacity for Fastpass vs. standby when they have three theaters on Soarin' v2.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Last night after a lap of Food and Wine, we experienced our first ever Soarin' walk on around 8:50. Had an entire row to ourselves. Doing WDW, much like Cedar Point, is all about timing.

Jeff's avatar

That's better than I've encountered, for sure. Well done. F&W gets so crowded at night, but it definitely draws people away from the few attractions in Future World that are open that late.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Last night was our 3rd or 4th after work trip to F&W and by far the least crowded we have seen. I was finally able to really get some real eating in without absurd waits at the food booths. The weather was spectacular, and the Soarin' walk on/empty row was the icing on the cake, a true once in a lifetime. I think a lot of it has to do with the concert, and it didn't seem Air Supply was packing them in like some of the others do.

My wife and I shot down to F&W last weekend (Oct 17) and while fully expected, Epcot was pretty darn crowded, especially toward the evenings. Outside of NYE, it felt close to as crowded as I have ever seen the World Showcase. And with respect to Soarin, I didn't see the wait less than 60 minutes, and it was up to 90 minutes at some points.

However, despite the crowds, I was pretty impressed with how fast the food and drink lines moved. Aside from a couple of outliers, I don't recall waiting more than 5 min for the majority of the joints. Even when the queues were full, the lines still moved pretty quickly.

On a side "note for the future", we spent two brief afternoons at the MK on days that the Halloween party was scheduled for 7pm. MK was pretty "dead" on both visits ("dead" for MK standards at least). I've always heard to hit the MK on days that the park closes at 7pm for special event nights and my recent experience seems to support this notion.

Last edited by Hanging n' Banging,

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