Advertisement

You believe you can fly? You can. These theaters let you soar over the world

You believe you can fly? You can. These theaters let you soar over the world
Flying theaters give the sensation of soaring, but it's only an illusion — a popular one. This Is Holland is one of several around the world. (Composite image from This Is Holland)

Humans have long dreamed of flight, but only within the last few years has unencumbered up-in-the-air movement over remarkable scenery — without strapping on wings, dangling from hot-air balloons, boarding airplanes or wearing virtual-reality goggles — become possible.

Say hello to flying theaters. For visuals, they use 60-foot-wide semicircular (a.k.a. hemispherical) screens, extremely high-definition cameras. For audio, surround-sound and original music. For movement, seats that generate an intense sensation of motion. The final touches: breezes that rustle visitors’ hair, mist that drifts about and natural scents that waft through the air. Thus is the multidimensional illusion of flight born.

Advertisement

And the fascination continues to grow. In the last three years, several more flying-theater attractions have opened in cities around the world.

Here is a pre-flight tour of some of them.

Canada

Visitors "glide" over Niagara Falls at the FlyOver Canada attraction in Vancouver, Canada
Visitors "glide" over Niagara Falls at the FlyOver Canada attraction in Vancouver, Canada (Composite image from FlyOver Canada by Pursuit)

At Canada Place in Vancouver, guests are treated to FlyOver Canada, grand Canadian vistas on the theater’s 65-foot-wide hemispherical screen in the dramatic eight-minute flight. Sites include Toronto, the Rockies, Niagara Falls and Churchill, Manitoba, known for polar bears.

In celebration of Halloween in October, computer-generated ghosts roam Canada’s landscapes. In December Santa’s elves visit the Canadian countryside; the program ends with a 90-second CGI flight to the North Pole.

United States

Guests "fly" over a view of redwoods and Jeffrey pines along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe at FlyOver America in Bloomington, Minn.
Guests "fly" over a view of redwoods and Jeffrey pines along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe at FlyOver America in Bloomington, Minn. (Composite image from FlyOver America by Pursuit)

The team that made FlyOver Canada created FlyOver America at the Mall of America near Minneapolis three years later.

Aviator-guests fly over Hawaii, Alaska, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, canyons of Utah, Florida Keys, wetlands, waterfalls, vivid autumn-colored forests and more. (FlyOver America is also shown for four-to-six weeks during spring at FlyOver Canada’s theater in Vancouver.)

The world

Visitors “soar” over the Great Wall of China as part of Soarin’ Over the World at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim and Epcot in Orlando, Fla., and at Shanghai Disneyland in China, where the attraction is renamed Soaring Over the Horizon.
Visitors “soar” over the Great Wall of China as part of Soarin’ Over the World at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim and Epcot in Orlando, Fla., and at Shanghai Disneyland in China, where the attraction is renamed Soaring Over the Horizon. (Composite image from Disney)

Disney replaced Soarin’ Over California at Disney’s California Adventure and Epcot with Soarin’ Over the World in 2016.

The world tour flies over the American Southwest’s Monument Valley, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, India’s Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sydney Harbour in Australia, the Great Wall of China, Switzerland’s Matterhorn and Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

The attraction also is at Shanghai Disneyland in China under the name Soaring Over the Horizon. The preshow gets spiritual by trying to tap into “ancient primal powers” while guests follow a trail to the celestial observatory of a fictional tribe, and a “shaman” calls the spirit of a condor to help guests fly in the semicircular theater.

On July 23 the same attraction, renamed Soaring: Fantastic Flight, is to open at Toyko DisneySea. This preshow honors a fictional 19th century woman explorer who supposedly created the Renaissance-style four-person Dream Flyers in which visitors take to the air.

Advertisement

Washington state

Feet dangling in the air, guests “soar” over Snoqualmie Falls at the Wings Over Washington “flying theater” attraction at Pier 57 in Seattle.
Feet dangling in the air, guests “soar” over Snoqualmie Falls at the Wings Over Washington “flying theater” attraction at Pier 57 in Seattle. (Composite image from Wings Over Washington)

Wings Over Washington, which opened in 2016 at Miner’s Landing at Pier 57 near Waterfront Park in Seattle, creates the sense of flying with the giant screen, wind, surround-sound and subtle scents while a spirit eagle leads guests over Mt. Rainier, the Cascades, the San Juan Islands and through a hot-air balloon festival.

Europe

The Dolomites in Italy, one of the sites at the Voletarium flying-theater at Europa-Park in Rust, Germany.
The Dolomites in Italy, one of the sites at the Voletarium flying-theater at Europa-Park in Rust, Germany. (Composite image from Europe-Park)

Germany’s Voletarium at the Europa-Park theme park in Rust near the Swiss and French borders is billed as Europe’s largest flying theater. With a 67-foot-wide screen and footage shot with eight times more resolution than regular full-high-def, the four-minute experience carries fliers across Europe, including Venice, Italy; Paris; the fiords of Norway; and the ever-popular Matterhorn and Neuschwanstein Castle.

Info: Voletarium

Netherlands

This Is Holland takes visitors over traditional windmills.
This Is Holland takes visitors over traditional windmills. (Composite image from This Is Holland)

Shortly after the Voletarium opened, Amsterdam’s nine-minute This Is Holland premiered and let visitors fly over fields of flowers (while inhaling their scent), canals, gardens, beaches, windmills, even a hot-air balloon shaped like a windmill.

San Francisco

The Flyer San Francisco, a roller-coaster-like flying-theater attraction at Pier 39 near the city’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Flyer San Francisco, a roller-coaster-like flying-theater attraction at Pier 39 near the city’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Composite image from the Flyer San Francisco)

The Flyer, which opened in February at Pier 39 in San Francisco, may not lift seats into the air, but the 3D glasses, gusts and massive screen create a flying roller-coaster-like thrill ride as visitors accelerate, decelerate, dive and turn wildly with an animated racing seagull zooming around San Francisco, the Marin Headlands north of the city, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Info: The Flyer

Advertisement
Advertisement