The Pyramid in Practice – Transitions and Soarin’ Around the World

As I mentioned previously, “Pyramid in Practice” posts will occasionally look at how some of the Imagineering Pyramid principles are practiced in the parks.

This post looks at the use of Transitions in the new Soarin’ Around the World film at Epcot.

Let me start with a refresher on Transitions. Transitions are described on pages 59-60 in The Imagineering Pyramid as follows:

“Transitions involve making sure that as guests make their way through the park, the changes they experience as they move from subject to subject, or area to area, are as seamless as possible.”

“Transitions are also used between scenes within attractions and shows.”

On page 62, we look at a description of a different type of transition:

Most transitions are designed to allow for smooth change between scenes, but there are times when an abrupt change is more appropriate. In these cases, the Imagineers use a “crash cut”—a filmmaking term used to denote an abrupt transition.

The original Soarin’ film primarily uses “crash cuts” between scenes. The film abruptly jumps from scene to scene, and these transitions momentarily pull the audience out of the experience. Whenever I rode Soarin’ these crash cuts always reminded me that I was watching a film and took me out of the experience of “soarin'” over California.

The new Soarin’ Around the World film introduces new visual transitions between most of the scenes that help make the experience smoother and more immersive than the original.

(©2016, courtesy of Aaron Wallace)

[SPOILER ALERT: The following paragraph describes some of the scenes from the new Soarin’ Around the World film.]

These transitions take the form of things that we see and fly through as we travel from scene to scene. For example, at one point as we soar over a mountain top, we fly into some clouds and come out of those clouds near an arctic ocean. We then fly down near the water’s surface where the splash from a breaching whale fills our vision and we next find ourselves in Sydney Harbor in Australia. In a later scene, as we fly down over a herd of elephants in the African savanna, we fly through a dust cloud and emerge over the the Great Wall of China.

This use of transitions smooths out the experience considerably. Even though the jumps between scenes are quite distinct and noticeable, the transitions help lead us out of one scene and into the next, and the overall experience is far more immersive.

The film also contains a (not-so) Hidden Mickey! Keep an eye out for it!

Note: My comments are based on an online video of Soarin’ Around the World from one of the folks lucky enough to ride it earlier today.  I haven’t had the chance to ride this myself yet, but it’s *definitely* on my “To Ride” list for my next trip to Walt Disney World (tentatively February 2017).

Thoughts?  Let me know what you think in the comments!


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