I thought it might be fitting to bring up the music for a theme park ride this week, since I recently visited Epcot at Walt Disney World for a special, traditionally frightening, celebration. Once inside the front gate, my ears picked up the lovely score for the “Soarin’ Over California” flight simulator blasting through the park’s entrance plaza speakers. Right then and there, I knew it was going to be a pleasant visit. I was soon proven semi-wrong by a throng of Brazilian tourists, who found it necessary to kickstart a football chant at top volume to help them get over their homesickness. Back to the music…
Composed by the maestro Jerry Goldsmith, “Soarin’” contains a sumptuous musical quality unheard of from a theme park encounter. It’s a genre made up primarily of minimal orchestrations, utilized to fill pesky empty space in the adventure zone while guests train their senses to what’s ahead of them. However, with “Soarin’,” Goldsmith is the ride’s gushing heart and soul, lending the film portion of the experience a vibrant quality that feels like genuine flight, even while brilliant Disney Imagineering technology is working overtime to sell the sensation mechanically.
Touring California from top to bottom (an event a little odd for the Florida version of the ride, but that’s another story), hitting naturalistic landmarks almost too beautiful for words, “Soarin’” reaches for an epic summit of Disneyfied awe, and it reaches it not through sweeping IMAX visuals, piped-in aromas, or cantilever system surprise. No, “Soarin’” hits the sweet spot with music, with Goldsmith taking the riders on an expressive excursion through nature’s miracles and California’s synthetic achievements.
I would easily list “Soarin’ Over California” as one of my favorite rides at either coastal version of Disney. Yet I rarely return to feel the wonder of flight. I always come back to be comforted by the grand Goldsmith score. Out of context, it might not register as something to be celebrated, but let me assure you, the music is exceptional.
Here’s “Soarin’ Over California”
Here’s the actual ride experience.