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These are a few of my favourite things – 'SOARIN'

I have to admit that Epcot is my absolute favourite of all the Disney Parks in Orlando, Florida. I suppose you could say that is because of my age – not being a spring chicken, and all that! But I really love its variety, and the fact that, for a roller coaster wimp, this is the park that has the most attractions that I can actually do, without being scared out of my mind.

So it is the park we normally visit first, and for me, my favourite ride just has to be ‘Soarin.’ It is a spectacular experience, and even my husband, who is a bigger wimp than me, and normally sits with the bags, finds it truly enjoyable. So as soon as we get through security and the turnstiles we head off to the right, past Space Ship Earth, and through Innoventions until we come to ‘The Land.’ Now I have to warn you that the queues for ‘Soarin’ can be unbelievable, beating even the other most popular ride, ‘Test Track’, so if you want to experience this fantastic adventure then do go first, or at least get your ‘Fastpasses’ so you can go later in the day.

Turn right as you enter the Land Pavilion – good tip as most people turn left – and go down the escalator, past the Food Court. It is here that your adventure will begin, as you queue to board your simulator for your flight over the amazing Californian countryside.

The ride itself has an amusing pre-amble for your pre-flight briefing – look out for the passenger wearing the World War II goggles – and before you know it you are sitting in a multi-seater hang glider, ready to soar over trees, and rivers, mountains and orange groves, surf and sand. As the experience begins you rise up about 40 feet, and your feet dangle in mid-air. Then you are off, gliding silently through fluffy clouds emerging to the glorious panorama of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I won’t spoil your enjoyment by describing it more fully, but suffice to say you will not only feel the wind in your face but you will smell the pungent aroma of pine, the tangy scent of oranges, and the salty smell of the sea. You will fly over spectacular topography, including rivers and mountains – look out for the climbers clinging to the rock faces on your left hand side, over orange groves tangy with the scent of the blossom - and I defy anyone not to lift their feet as they swoop over the orange trees below, try it and see. Your flight continues across rich and fertile farm lands and over arid desert landscapes – watch out for the fighter jets which appear suddenly in front of you. You will fly low over the surf of Malibu Beach, so close you can almost feel the spray in your face, and you will just avoid being hit by a golf ball as you soar above the famous golf course at Palm Springs. One of my favourite bits is descending rapidly over the USS Stennis, the largest aircraft carrier in the US Navy’s fleet, and following a helicopter as it takes off in front of you. All too soon you reach the finale, as you fly over Los Angeles, the twinkling lights of this vibrant city below you. Suddenly you find yourself over Disneyland in Anaheim where a spectacular firework display will bring your flight to a breathtaking, and rather unexpected end.

I know I am always disappointed to feel my hang-glider gently descend, as I wish it could just go on and on. It is a multi-sensory experience, with a symphony of sounds, sights and smells. Every time you ride it you will experience something new and interesting – and see something you missed the previous time. For the best ride it is well worth asking to sit on the first row, in the middle, where you will be higher than the other rows, and will be unaware of the screen in front of you, as you cannot see anything but the vista before you. If you are a little nervous then ask to sit on the lower row – you may have to wait for the next flight but it is worth doing.

Whilst the queues may be long, Disney has now added interactive games on huge screens, for guests to play whilst they wait for their flight.

Make sure you don’t miss this wonderful attraction – it is great for all the family.

Rita Fraser

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