Targeted Goal: Add Interactivity
Currently, the Soarin' attraction is simply a glider-simulator that goes through one set of scenes, that being California. This was because the ride debuted in the California Adventures park.
Now, there's no problem with the California scenery itself the first time you watch it. In fact, this is one of the few rides that all ages truly like (anything that can appeal to my kids and my mother threads a needle of impossibility). My mother actually wanted to ride on it again! This does not happen, folks.
But, something happens after the 2nd ride. You get a bit bored with the scenery. Sure, the experience of gently gliding is fun, but it has a been-there, done-that feel to it. Simply put, we need more interactivity to spruce this up.
Disney has already figured this out. Part of their genius in the renovation of Star Tours was the adding of multiple scenes. Participants do not know what scenes they will experience in the simulator, meaning there is both the element of surprise, and the draw to ride the attraction again. Sure, it can create longer lines with multiple rides (this will be a much bigger issue with Soarin' than with Star Tours), but it also adds more enjoyment.
The key to finding additional destinations for Soarin' is to have a wide variety of majestic scenes that look great on the big screen. California, of course, is perfect for this as a diverse environmental marvel. But there are other places that would work.
My proposal would be to add:
- Philippines or Indonesia
- Brazil or Peru
Ten additional destinations might be a bit much, but having at least 7 total, including California, would be the goal. The destinations chosen are all purposeful. Each has quite a bit of natural beauty to them, and enough diversity to make for a great video. Most of them have an iconic scene to make for the final descent (Sydney Opera House, Taj Mahal, Acropolis, St. Basil's Cathedral, Christ the Redeemer, etc).
Expanding the attraction has many benefits beyond the interactivity. Epcot, of course, purports itself to be a world showcase. That world apparently doesn't include Africa or South America or Oceania. This would be a way to further expand the world-wide reach of Epcot without having to massively build new lands in the showcase.
Which, leads us to the next benefit. This is a very inexpensive fix, keeping those shareholders happy. Creating videos for flight won't require the ride to be down (though, it would be better if the gliding mechanics could be personalized to each flight).
Plus, this can lead to perpetual updates. Disney could release a new flight each year. Having something new at each park on an annual basis is a must-have to move Five-Years to Annuals.
As mentioned, the downside to this is the potential line increase. Soarin' is already very popular, and the wait times are notoriously long. Adding some additional hangars would be a nice addition as well, and would maximize one of the more popular rides in the park (instead of forcing people into a boring people-eater). Interestingly enough, it is rumored that Soarin' is adding new hangars with the potential of creating a new destination. I'd add, having one new destination only delays the feeling of been-there, done-that. We need to go to multiple destinations to truly maximize the benefit.
Bottom Line: More interactivity, greater tie-in with park theme, low cost and easy future development schedule... let's get started on this right away.