Today Disney released further details of the coming overhaul of Epcot including a revamp of the Wonders of Life pavilion into a “play” themed pavilion as well as an artist’s rendering of the new vision for the Epcot entrance plaza that had social media buzzing most of the day, and for good reason.
Soarin’ at Disney’s California Adventure
The original Soarin’ Over California debuted on the opening day of Disney’s California Adventure Feb 8, 2001. Soarin’ is a flight simulator attraction that employs an 80 foot concave 180 degree screen and lifts its viewers 40 feet into the air to view the movie.
The ride concept first came up in 1996 under the title “ultra flight”. The original concept was to have three separate loading levels but was ultimately too costly to execute so the imagineers came up with a single level loading system as it is today that then lefts the three levels up against the screen.
Michael Eisner, the then-CEO of the Walt Disney Company formed a task force called the Millennium Committee in the mid 1990s to come up with a plan for Disney to celebrate the Millennium. Their task was to create a celebration that answered the question, “How do you celebrate the World?” It needed to create an emotional connection with people who don’t all speak the same language.
As such, Epcot was selected as the park that would play host to the Millennium Celebration because it presents a unique opportunity to celebrate and speak to cultures outside of the traditional Disney characters and fairytales. It is a place that allows for the celebration of the human experience.
Don Dorsey (of the main street electrical parade and previous versions of illumiNations) served creative director and wrote up an idea for the centerpiece of the celebration which was the new nighttime spectacular coming to Epcot called “IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of earth” on an airplane. There are many other parts of the celebration, but IllumiNations was the centerpiece and the first concept they envisioned.