Why is the Soarin Queue? Epcot’s Real World Representation of Airports

Who what when where how and why does Soarin exist? Simple, it’s a fantastical E-Ticket attraction originally created for Disney California Adventure Park that was then CTRL+C CTRL+V’d over to Epcot four years later in 2005. The surrounding theme for California’s Soarin relied heavily on California aviation. Clearly that wouldn’t work well in Florida, so the attraction entrance and queue was retooled to be a more modern take on aviation instead of a heritage approach. The result is a breathtaking journey through a prehistoric world, erm, the result is a long queue that resembles an airport.

Entering the queue shows you a globe above a sign showing All Concourses. This sets the tone for the three themes that follow that all draw inspirations from real world airports. Let’s dive in!

Charles De Gaulle Airport

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Charles De Gaulle airport is located in Paris, France. The wood on the ceiling is a very retro and unique take on things. This airport was used as inspiration for the first part of the Soarin’ queue at Epcot.

Now, it’s not 100% a recreation, and that’s perfectly fine because these areas are meant to be inspired by real world designs and not just copy them directly.

McNamara Terminal

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The second part of the Soarin queue is inspired by the McNamara Terminal in Detroit, Michigan. The tall, slanted roof with an elevated portion and metallic structures all are inspired by this Delta terminal.

This one is a very loose fit. During my research I’ve come across multiple statements that yes this portion of the queue is based off of the Detroit airport, but I’ve also gotten conflicting arguments that it’s based off of the Henada airport in Tokyo.

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Either way, there’s no mistake that the architecture featured in this portion resembles one of the airports.

Chicago O’Hare

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The most iconic portion of the Soarin queue is the neon blue lights lining both walls going towards the main concourses. Chicago O’Hare is located, of course, in Chicago, and has this amazing neon tunnel walkway.

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While the neon isn’t always blue, I pulled some images from Google showing the blue lighting package to absolutely compare/contrast with the Soarin queue below.

Down to even reflective surfaces, this portion closely resembles its real world counterpart in Chicago.

So Why is the Soarin Queue? It’s a tribute and love letter to airports that travelers and Imagineers have spent many hours, days, and years traveling through. While you’re in a theme park and not meant to experience the hectic environment of an airport it is nice to still be able to witness some of the amazing inspired designs.

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