We recently had the opportunity to ride Vancouver’s newest attraction, FlyOver Canada, not just once, but twice. This gave us a pretty good opportunity to evaluate and review what is hoped to become one of the city’s top attractions. Indeed, with an investment of 16 million dollars to produce this attraction, it will need to draw in steady crowds in order to be successful on the financial front. Here is my review of FlyOver Canada.
The price of admission is about $20 Canadian; not bad when you compare it to many other local attractions. Of course many other tourist attractions, while costing a similar amount, do provide a longer period of entertainment compared to this which only lasts about 30 minutes for the entire experience. That includes a pre-show of perhaps 10 minutes (I didn’t time it exactly), followed by leading the guests up for the ride, showing them a short safety video and then ensuring everyone is properly seated and buckled in. All of this is followed by the feature ride which lasts for approximately 10 minutes.
The pre-show is a video-montage that is representative of the people, places, nature and wildlife in Canada. You stand anywhere in the centre area of the room in which you view this presentation while it is projected onto the walls all around the room. You don’t have to twist and turn to try to see it all as the videos move around the room giving you a view of the entire program from whichever direction you are facing. To be honest this is pretty much just something to pass the time as you are waiting for the main attraction. In my opinion it was okay, but nothing spectacular, and perhaps a bit loud for my liking.
After the pre-show you are led into a staging area where groups are organized into rows with each guest standing on a circle marked on the floor. It is from here that you will watch the brief safety video, which does make use of a little bit of humour. The advance queuing allows for an orderly progression to the ride itself where you will be led to one of three different levels. On each level there is a long row of high-backed seats with an overhead metal canopy projecting forward. Here you will fasten your seatbelts which are then checked by the attendant in preparation for the ride. At this point the lights go out and you feel yourself moving forward into the darkness; then, all of a sudden, you are flying between layers of cloud! This is where you will first hear the oohs and the aahs and they are for good reason. There is suddenly an incredible sense of motion as you descend through the clouds feeling the mist on your face as you break out above the frozen waters of Canada’s Arctic. After narrowly missing a ship and weaving between some icebergs you are seamlessly transformed to the next scene and so on. I won’t spoil all of the surprises for you, but suffice it to say that the visuals are spectacular and the sense of speed and motion is indeed convincing. Factor in the aromas, temperature changes, surround sound and especially the mist (which even fogged up my glasses slightly at times) and you have a very immersing and memorable ride that is certain to leave you wanting more.
So, is it worth the price of admission? As for myself, I would say yes, and I am pretty selective about where I spend my travel and entertainment dollars. While it is relatively short, if you where to compare it to a 20 minute sightseeing flight over Vancouver’s Harbour, it is just a fraction of the cost.
Could this ride be better? Perhaps. In all fairness it runs about twice as long as the similar Soaring Over California ride in Disneyland’s California and Florida theme parks from which it was inspired. Having been on both rides, I would say that FlyOver Canada gives you an even greater feeling of motion and the mist effect also adds a lot to the immersion. So, what could be improved? Well, I think some parts of Canada are a left a little short-changed; for example: the only city flyovers are Toronto and Vancouver. It would be nice to have seen at least a brief flyover of a larger selection of major Canadian cities such as Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary and Victoria. Also some more time over the Maritime Provinces including PEI and a little more coverage of the prairie provinces would have been nice as well. Of course, one needs to realize there is a need to move a lot of people through this attraction in a day to make a return on investment, so they have to put some kind of a limit on the length of the ride. Even so, I believe the ride would, in the long run, attract more visitors and especially repeat visitors, if it were perhaps 5 minutes longer with more extensive coverage of the country; especially since this is a stand alone attraction rather than part of a larger theme park like Soaring over California is. I don’t want to be misunderstood here. If this ride was not spectacular to begin with, there would be no point in my suggesting more content be added. It is because I enjoyed this ride as much as I did that I find myself with the feeling of not getting quite enough of a good thing.
After the ride I had a brief opportunity to talk with both Stephen Geddes, President and Andrew Strang, CEO of FlyOver Canada. They definitely indicated that there are plans in place to bring some new and interesting content to this attraction in the future. While not revealing too many details, they told me that a couple of seasonal rides are being planned for next year. It was also indicated that they might consider the possibility of having a longer ride available during the slower times of the year, so there are certainly some exciting new things to look forward to. With the infrastructure of the ride already in place, it would certainly be less costly to introduce some new content to the ride in the future and thereby sustain the overall interest. We will certainly look forward to seeing what Steve and Andrew come up with in the coming years.
I also want to add that all of the staff and attendants for the ride where extremely personable and helpful throughout the entire experience and my hat goes off to them for being very hospitable and doing an outstanding job.
One more thing going for this attraction is the outstanding location at the northern end of Canada Place – one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. If you do have to wait in line for the ride, at least you will enjoy some beautiful views of the Vancouver waterfront including Stanley Park while you wait.
In summary, I have to say that the team that created this attraction have done an outstanding job and I am confident that the ride will both delight and amaze you. I would definitely consider FlyOver Canada to be one of Vancouver’s ‘must see’ attractions.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our first hand review of FlyOver Canada. You can also read more about this new attraction here on our Vancouver site.