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Flying Theatres parkworld-online.com


Hubei in rhe Air by Dynamic Attractions at Wanda Movie Park, China


It was a product Disney had


to itself for almost a decade, but as ride manufacturers from Canada to Taiwan


market their own version of the media-based attraction format – and parks and


attractions around the world clamber to buy one – it's safe to say the flying theatre has become one of the industry's hottest products. With the help of many of the


companies shaping the trend, Park World examines a genre of ride many believe


offers the ultimate feeling of flight. And, no, we couldn't think of a less obvious headline


BELOW: Soarin’ Over the Horizon at Disneyland Shanghai


Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, curious guests were wondering what might lie in store at the new Disney California Adventure (DCA) park taking shape next door. Once inside the main gate on opening day in 2001, those turning right didn't have far to walk to sample a one of a kind attraction that would soon become a next generation Disney classic, one which has arguably paved the way for a new breed of 21st Century simulators and media-based attractions. Soarin' Over California, as the first incarnation at DCA


A


was originally called, became an instant hit and led to some of the largest queues at the entire Disneyland Resort. Key to the experience are rows of seats suspended beneath a motion base, which are then cantilevered up in front of a large domed screen, giving every rider a front row seat. Surrounding riders in front, to the sides and below (and with a canopy obstructing their view above), the concaved movie screen really immerses them in the action. The use of simple seat belts rather than coaster-style restraints adds to passengers' feeling of freedom, and ultimately flight.


t the turn of the 20th/21st Century, as families were flocking to Disneyland in Anaheim to enjoy favourites such Space Mountain, The Haunted


“Flying theatres are a quantum leap forward in ride


system and entertainment engineering compared to shaky seat amusement park rides,” believes Guy Nelson, president of Dynamic Attractions, acknowledged as a pioneer of such experiences. The Canadian company has to date created or is in the process of creating 18 flying theatres, yet its involvement in many projects remains confidential even after they open.


The original Soarin' ride film simulated a hang-glider flight


across California, featuring such landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge, Napa Valley and downtown Los Angeles. Shown both at Disney's California Adventure and also EPCOT in Florida, where a second Soarin' attraction opened in 2005, the film was replaced last June at both parks by Soarin' Around the World, which received its worldwide premiere a day earlier at the new Disneyland Shanghai park, where it is called Soarin' Over The Horizon. A fourth Soarin' experience is earmarked for Tokyo DisneySea in 2019. Many more flying theatres – from a wide range of manufacturers – are expected to open around the world in the coming years. But why has it taken so long for others to catch on? “When Disney developed Soarin’, it was the beginning of


a shift from the 'higher, faster, longer' attitude of rollercoasters towards immersive media-based family attractions,” notes CAVU Designwerks president Daryl White. “Of course being the first and also a Disney project, this did not come cheap, and for a long time it was just not affordable for others to produce an attraction of the same calibre. Times have now changed and technology has opened the doors to a competitive market. Some are better than others, but all follow in the footsteps of Soarin’.” “Any new concept takes time to develop,” observes UK- based technology specialist Kevin Murphy, now working with Kraftwerk Living Technologies of Austria on the audiovisual component of 11 flying theatre projects in China, Malaysia, Germany, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. “The original Soarin’ ride system as well as the projection and film production presented a technical challenge. The projection was based on an elaborate and costly mechanical IMAX projector as well as complex and


30 FEBRUARY 2017


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