Flying Theater - Flying Theater

When Flying Theater or Flying Theater is known attractions , where the combination of movement, film projection , binaural sound and special effects flying experiences realistically simulates be. A flying theater is also defined as a multimedia, multi-sensory, media-based attraction. Due to the complexity of the technology, flying theaters are mostly operated in theme parks (e.g. Universal Orlando Resort) or other large entertainment facilities such as visitor centers (e.g. Vancouver).

Flying theater is available in various technical designs. What they all have in common, however, is the use of one or - depending on the size of the facility - several motion systems in combination with a large screen, usually a dome projection , in order to simulate synchronous movements. [1]


The first flight simulations in entertainment - and thus the predecessors of today's flying theaters - were so-called motion simulators, which are technically based on commercial flight simulators. These systems are so-called "closed rides" ( capsuled rides ) because the passengers are in a closed capsule (like in a flight simulator ), which is mounted on a motion system. The functional principle is that the motion system moves the capsule with the guests synchronously to a film shown inside the capsule. Because of the relatively small size of the capsule - in "Star Tours", for example, there was space for 40 people per passage when it opened in 1987 (Star Tours: Attraction Facts [2]) - these closed rides often use larger televisions ( flat screens) instead of projections to display the film. The audio playback takes place via small surround systems , special effects are limited to wind generated by fans.

Typical examples of this type of attraction are:

  • Star Tours[3] (Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, 1987)
  • Body Wars [4] (opened 1989 in EPCOT, Orlando, closed 2007)
  • Wild Arctic[5] (SeaWorld, Orlando, 1994).
Soarin' over California, Eingang

The first flying theater to meet the above definition was opened by the Walt Disney Company in 2001 under the name Soarin 'over California in their Disney California Adventure theme park. [6] The team that developed the then novel attraction was led by Rick Rothschild, [7] then one of the heads of the creative department at Walt Disney Imagineering, [8] .

The Soarin 'over California attraction, which opened in California in 2001, was such a great success from the start that The Walt Disney Company began planning a 1: 1 copy at the EPCOT theme park in Orlando, Florida, which opened in 2004 . Other Walt Disney Company Flying Theaters include:

  • Soarin' over the Horizon (eröffnet 2016 im Shanghai Disneyland Park)[9]
  • Soarin' around the World (ersetzt das Original Soaring' over California in Disneys California Adventure-Park, eröffnet 2016)[10]


The underlying principle of a flying theater is that a motion system moves the passengers synchronously with the movements in a projected film. The synchronicity is programmed with special software (motion control software) [11] and is also checked by this software during the course of the simulation. A study published by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 1969 shows how important synchronicity is for a realistic perception of a flight simulation . [12]

The specific structure of a flying theater depends on several factors. First of all, the available floor space and the desired capacity are decisive, i.e. how many guests should be able to experience the attraction per hour / per day. Accordingly, either a single or several movement systems can stand side by side in front of a large screen. The size of the screen and the relative position of the system are decisive for the realistic feeling of flight and movement because the guests should not see any fixed points outside the projection. [13] This is why large, curved screens, so-called "curved screens" or dome projections, are usually used.

Another important aspect when it comes to creating a realistic flight feeling is the sound. The Doppler effect is decisive here . For this reason, most flying theaters work with audio surround systems so that the sound can also be moved through the room in sync with the film.

In addition, the installation of special effects supports the creation of the most realistic flight experience possible. The following special effects are typically used:

  • Wind
  • Rain snow
  • Lightning effects
  • Odor effects

Different concepts

Voletarium (Flying Theater) im Europa-Park

The concept of flight simulation by Flying Theater has been enjoying increasing popularity since 2013 (see the list of Flying Theaters 2001-2018 below). Accordingly, various technical implementation concepts have been developed since then.

The original concept of Disney's Soarin 'over California consisted of a dome projection (diameter: 24 meters, concave), as well as a pneumatic / mechanical motion system that lifted the guests from the starting position on the ground directly into the dome projection using three massive drive arms and moved there in sync with the film, with the passengers spread across the entire width of the screen. Since this attraction is a simulated flight with a hang-glider, the seats in the 9 rows are constructed in such a way that the legs of the guests hang in the air.

A comparable concept, where the passengers are also distributed in several rows of seats over the entire width of a dome projection, is “Fly over Canada” (Vancouver, 2013). However, the passengers are not lifted into the projection with a great deal of material (massive steel arms) and force. With this system, the guests take steps to their seats in the respective rows. These rows are arranged one above the other - like a house with several floors. When the simulation starts, the floor tilts under the feet of the seated passengers, so that with this system, too, the legs swing freely.

Another technical solution consists of a large platform that is initially flat on the floor so that the passengers can sit on one level in the rows arranged one behind the other. At the beginning of the flight, the platform is tilted up by 90 ° in the direction of the screen and the rows of seats are also manipulated using a special mechanism so that the passengers are positioned hanging in front of the entire width of the screen.

All three concepts result in a very immersive flight experience. It should be noted, however, that because the passengers are distributed across the entire width of the screen, only those guests who sit in the center of the projection have a perfect view. The further you are positioned towards the edge, the more distorted the view becomes. This is due to the external bending of the screen (especially with dome projections). The positioning of the passengers relative to the screen is therefore of particular importance.

As stated above, the “Soarin 'over California” concept has been a huge success from the start. Nevertheless, it took more than ten years until the concept of the flying theater not only caught on in the entertainment market, but also triggered a real boom that continues to this day (2019). The reason for this delayed reaction of the market seems to be on the one hand that an enormous amount of space is required for a flying theater of this size, but on the other hand also that the mechanical requirements of the solutions described above are enormous. Another reason is the high investments required in infrastructure. Among other things, this refers to the foundations that steel structures have to support with a weight of up to 350 tons.

One consequence of this was the development of newer systems that not only require less steel construction, but also bring better results in terms of sight lines for the guests. The basic idea was to "go back to the roots" of motion simulations, but without putting the passengers in closed capsules. Instead, the guests sit in rows raised one behind the other on a platform that is mounted on a motion system. Since this setup is much more compact, almost all passengers sit centrally in the middle of the screen. In addition, the development of particularly powerful electric motors has made the use of electric instead of pneumatic drives possible, which not only makes operation cheaper (lower service costs), but also enables particularly smooth and realistic movements.

Liste „Flying Theaters“ in Themenparks 2001–2019

Commissioning year Name Park Those
2001 Soarin’ over California Disney California Adventure Park [6]
2005 Soarin’ over California EPCOT Center, Walt Disney World [6]
2010 Flying over Taiwan E-DA World, Taiwan [14]
2012 I travel to italy Ferrari world Abu Dhabi [15]
2013 FlyOver Canada Canada Place , Vancouver [16]
2014 Fuji Airways Fuji-Q Highland, Japan [17]
2014 Power of Nature Wanda Movie Park, China [18]
2015 Hubei in the air Wanda Movie Park [19]
2016 FlyOver America Mall of the Americas [20]
2016 Soarin’ over the Horizon Shanghai Disneyland Park [9]
2016 Soarin’ around the World EPCOT Center, Walt Disney World [10]
2016 Wings over Washington Pier 57, Seattle (Miner's Landing) [21]
2016 Krrish: Hero’s Flight Bollywood Parks, Dubai [22]
2016 Fly venture Lotte World, Seoul, Korea [23]
2016 Extraordinary Journey Futuroscope, Poitiers, France [24]
2016 Hexaflight Wanda Mall Movie Park, Nanchang, China [25]
2017 Soaring over Russia/Soaring over Moscow Zaryadye Park, Moscow, Russia [26]
2017 Flying Dreams Ferrari Land, Salou, Spain [27]
2017 Voletarium Europapark, Rust, Germany [28]
2017 Race trough New York, Starring Jimmy Fallon Universal Orlando Resort [29]
2017 Washington Revelations Museum of the Bible, Washington DC [30]
2018 This is Holland This is Holland, Amsterdam [31]
2018 Fly over Paris Flyview Paris, Paris, France [32]
2018 The Flyer-San Francisco Pier 39, San Francisco [33]
2018 Fly over Mexico Amikoo theme park, Mexico [34]
2018 Beautiful Hunan Macrolink Flying Theater Changsa Tongguan Kiln Historical and Cultural Resort [35]
2018 Galactic Odyssey Warner Bros. World, Abu Dhabi [36]
2018 Agila the EKsperience Enchanted Kingdom, Philippines [37]
2018 Fly over China Shijingshan Amusement Park , Bejing [38]
2018 Volarium-The Flying Cinema Cinecittà, Rome, Italy [39]
2019 THE LEGO MOVIE Masters of Flight Legoland Florida Resort, Winter Haven, USA [40]
2019 Soaring: Fantastic Flight DisneySea, Tokyo, Japan [41]
2019 FlyOver Iceland Reykjavik, Iceland [42]

Other uses of flying theaters

Simultaneously with the rapid spread of flying theaters in theme parks, the first applications for other purposes are also becoming apparent. The Washington Museum of the Bible has had a flying theater with the Washington Revelations exhibition since November 2017 . Museum President Cary Summers assumes that these technologies will quickly become the norm. [43]

In addition to adapting to the given space, the main challenge with such uses is to achieve an intensity comparable to that of larger flying theaters and, at the same time, to achieve high reliability, low operating and maintenance costs and thus a favorable TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) . These include B. also measures to convert the energy back into electrical energy when braking. [44]

The director of the National Geographic Museum, Kathryn Keane, also sees the future in these technologies: "It's a new platform for storytelling ..." It allows us to try new things to capture the imagination of young people especially. " new way to tell stories. We can use it to try new things and especially attract the attention of young people.) [43]


Individual evidence

  1. Nicolas A. Pouliot, Clément M. Gosselin, Meyer A. Nahon: Motion Simulation Capabilities of Three-Degree-of-Freedom Flight Simulators. In: Journal of Aircraft. Band 35 , No. 1, Januar 1998, S. 9–17, doi:10.2514/2.2283.
  2. Star Tours (real-world) | Wookieepedia | FANDOM powered by Wikia In:, abgerufen am 22. Januar 2019.
  3. Star Tours – the Adventures Continue.
  4. Brian Krosnick: BODY WARS: The "Inside" Story of the Lost Epcot E-Ticket That Left Riders Queasy. In: Theme Park Tourist. 19. Dezember 2016, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019 (englisch).
  5. Wild Arctic-The Ride.
  6. a b c Soarin '(attraction). In: The Disney Wiki. Retrieved January 20, 2019 .
  7. Rick Rothschild. Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), abgerufen am 20. Januar 2019 (Member Directory).
  8. About Imagineering. In: Disney Imaginations . Retrieved January 20, 2019 .
  9. a b Soaring Over the Horizon. Shanghai Disney Resort, accessed January 21, 2019 .
  10. a b Disney Just Updated One Of Its Most Popular Rides -- What You Need To Know About The New Soarin'. In: Forbes. 31. Oktober 2016, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  11. Motion Control Software. In: Tech FAQ. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  12. zitiert aus National Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): Visual Elements in Flight Simulation. 1975, S. 15 ( [accessed on January 21, 2019]).
  13. National Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): Visual Elements in Flight Simulation. 1975, S. 15 ( [accessed on January 21, 2019]).
  14. E-DA Theme Park. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  15. Fly over Ferrari's motherland: Journey to Italy. Abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019 .
  16. Fly Over Canada. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  17. Fuji Airways – Even rain will take off! Fuji's appeal with "five senses". Abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  18. “Power of Nature“ at Wanda Movie Park, China by Simtec. In: blooloop. Blooloop Media, 29. Februar 2016, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  19. ^ Hubei in the Air - Wanda Movie Park. In: blooloop. March 1, 2016, accessed January 21, 2019 .
  20. ^ Fly Over America. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  21. Wings over Washington – A Flying Ride. Abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  22. Krrish: Hero's Flight. Bollywood Parks Dubai, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  23. Fly venture. Lotte World Adventure, accessed January 21, 2019 .
  24. The journey - In the footsteps of Phileas Fogg… Abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019 .
  25. Simtec's HEXaFLITE® - Flying Theater at in the Wanda Mall Movie Park Nanchang, China. In: YouTube. Abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  26. Zaryadye Park, Media Center. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  27. Flying Dreams Ferrari Land Attractions. Retrieved August 21, 2019 (Spanish).
  28. Voletarium. Europapark , accessed on January 21, 2019 .
  29. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon™. Universal Orlando Resort, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  30. Washington Revelations. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  31. This is Holland. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  32. Flyview Paris. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  33. ^ The Flyer-San Francisco. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  34. Fly over Mexico. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  35. CAVU Designwerks to provide turnkey flying theatre attraction for Beautiful Hunan resort in Changsha, China. In: blooloop. 1. Februar 2018, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  36. Green Lantern: Galactic Odyssey. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, accessed January 21, 2019 .
  37. SOAR & EXPLORE. Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  38. Brogent’s i-Ride attraction, FLYOVER CHINA, opens in Beijing amusement park. In: blooloop. 12. September 2018, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.
  39. Cinecittà World opens flying theater “Volarium” in 2018 and more innovations., accessed on January 21, 2019 .
  40. THE LEGO® MOVIE ™ Masters of Flight. Retrieved August 21, 2019 .
  41. Tokyo Disney Resort Official Website. Abgerufen am 21. August 2019 .
  42. The Ultimate Flying Ride | FlyOver Iceland. Abgerufen am 21. August 2019.
  43. a b Museums: An amusement-park ride at the museum? Technology makes visitors part of the exhibits. In: The Washington Post. 22. Dezember 2017, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019 (englisch).
  44. Joe Kleiman: Dynamic Motion Rides: Flying for all. In: InPark Magazine (IPM). 5. April 2018, abgerufen am 21. Januar 2019.