Disney’s “Soarin'” to come to Abu Dhabi

“Soarin’ over California” in Disney’s California Adventure respectively it’s WDW-incarnation “Soarin'” in EPCOT has been one of the most stunning additions to the line-up of Disney theme park attractions in the last years – from a technical point of view as well as from the point of view of guest experience. The unique ride system allows guests of all ages to experience a flight over California on a huge concave screen with synchronized movements of the suspended seats simulating the experience of a hang glider flight. Even so guests frequently return over and over to re-ride “Soarin'” especially the arrival of the attraction at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, where its title was shortened to “Soarin'” made fans wonder: when will Disney pioneer a new movie for the attraction – and what will it show?

There have been rumors galore on fan-sites from “Soarin’ over the US”, to “Soarin’ over the World” or “Soarin’ over Hollywood” (complete with scenes in which guests would be soarin’ over scenes from various movies). The latter was mentioned in particular in connection with the rumor that “Soarin'” was considered as attraction for the Walt Disney Studios theme park at Disneyland Resort Paris. However, so far Disney has not confirmed any new movie for “Soarin'” – maybe because there is no need, as the current movie still generates long lines in both parks … time for the Ferrari World to step in! Ferrari World? YES – an upcoming theme park in Abu Dhabi!

The Ferrari World theme park is currently under construction in Abu Dhabi as part of Yas Island and is supposed to open in 2010. While various other theme park projects in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been canceled or put out on hold (as reported recently here) a web search and various reports indicate the park might actually open next year as planned! Obviously the park is not a Disney project – so what am I talking about it in connection with the “Soarin'” attractions in Disney theme parks? After all the “Soarin'” attractions were created by Disney’s Imagineers. In fact Imagineer Mark W. Sumner invented the ride system and Imagineer Walter A. Lucas invented the apparatus and the method used for the projection on the curved screen. And Imagineering certainly made sure both inventions at the heart of the attraction have been patented – so if you are interested in learning how the ride system works take a look at this patent, while everybody interesting in the projection concept should look at this patent.

Considering the creation of “Soarin'” by Imagineering and the patent projection why am I really talking about the Ferrari World theme park at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi? Well … just take a look at 6 minute CGI movie introducing the park and its various attractions, available from the official Ferrari website. After being introduced to various attractions (including a launch-coaster, a water ride through a Ferrari engine, a dark ride past video screens and various “drive a Ferrari”-themed car attractions at (roughly) 4:10 min. the attraction “Flying Over Italy Ride” is being presented. And based on the CGI video this is clearly a copy of the “Soarin'” ride concept!! So: the question is: did Disney license the ride concept to Ferrari World or did they find a company that “copied” idea for Disney’s ride system? And in the latter case: will the attraction actually open – or might Disney’s legal department step in? In case Disney surprisingly licensed the ride system the next question would be: was Disney involved in the creation of the “Flying over Italy” movie? And if so: any chance it might come to one of the current locations of “Soarin'” at DCA or EPCOT? After all both parks have two theaters inside their attractions, theoretically allowing them to show the “California” movie in one and the newer “Italy” movie in the other theater…

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