Time Traveling: Soarin’

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Current balloons on display in The Land pavilion

The last time we went time traveling I teased at the end about one of my all time favorite attractions, and now it’s time to make good on that promise! Today, we’re talking about the land where Soarin’ sits at Epcot. One housekeeping note: a lot of this is written from my own (entirely too sentimental) memories. If you remember it differently, please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from everyone.

If you went back in time between 1994 and 2004, you’d have no reason to be sad about Soarin’ taking over this space. Food Rocks is the show you’d find, and I can honestly say that even at a young age I understood I was seeing a cheap overlay at Disney. The transition time to install this show was only a couple months, and all of the animatronics felt flat. Even our host, “Fud Wrapper,” looked like he was made from cheap, nylon material. In this show Fud was our guide through the food groups and avoiding excess in a concert performed entirely by audio-animatronics. The only problem was that every song was a popular song with words replaced to fit the food group. Think of an entire show written in the style of Weird Al Yankovic… just not funny. It was one of the first attractions to close after I moved to Orlando, and I was thrilled to see it go! However, if you weren’t able to visit during this time, the show is well documented on YouTube, so you have to watch it. I’m very curious if lots of people will disagree with me on this show. Much like The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), I might just be firmly on one side of a generation gap. I’ll always love the original Enchanted Tiki Room, and I’ll always love the show that Food Rocks replaced.

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One of the original Kitchen Krackpots

From 1982 – 1994 this space was proudly held by Kitchen Kabaret. I still believe this is one of the all time best shows ever at Disney. Sometimes when you dredge things up on YouTube, you’re disappointed at the results, but this wasn’t the case since I still had every word memorized from hundreds of childhood viewings. This show had catchy songs and beautiful animatronics. The idea was almost identical to Food Rocks, with Bonnie Appetite serving as our host to introduce the food groups. However, the songs were better done and the show overall felt more complete. Kitchen Kabaret was a show we watched over and over. We just never got tired of it! While the original Kitchen Kabaret closed in 1994, the overall look and feel of The Land pavilion remained until 2004. The current arrangement holds more people, but I’m partial to the older design. It housed a huge, beautiful fountain and tables with brightly colored umbrellas! In the older design the restaurant was still called Sunshine Seasons, but you had to wait and pay at each different window. Again, currently it’s much more efficient, but I miss the old “country fair” look to things.

So what do you think? Were you able to experience these attractions before they closed? Do you miss either of them or do you prefer Soarin’? If you were only able to see them on YouTube, do you think old folks like me are crazy? I can’t wait to hear your comments below, and – as always – thanks for reading!

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Posted on January 6, 2014

16 Responses to “Time Traveling: Soarin’”

  • by daffystardust on January 6, 2014, at 7:20 am EDT

    While I do miss the edutainment and audio-animatronic heavy EPCOT that once was, Kitchen Kabaret never really enraptured me, so I only saw it a couple of times. I guess I mostly miss Horizons and the original Journey Into Imagination. While it was clearly better than Food Rocks, both shows were decidedly corny, and I now cannot imagine the park without Soarin’. Of course that attraction needs some fixing too…

    • Hey Daffy – I agree with you on Horizons and JII. I even miss World of Motion. It just seemed like more love went into the attractions and they weren’t concerned with thrill rides. I miss that! I really hope 2014 holds a JII refurb and they get rid of the awful version in place now.

  • I loved Kitchen Kabaret. It was one of my few things I remember enjoying in EPCOT Center from my early childhood trips in 1988 and 1991. At the time, all I wanted to do was ride the fabulous Future World omnimovers and see Kitchen Kabaret. I even bought a broccoli stuffed animal from the show, and my mom bought some place mats. I also remember seeing Food Rocks in 1994 and thinking exactly what you did – that it was lame – and I was only 11. Needless to say I did not purchase any merchandise from that show!

    • Betsy – I didn’t even know there was a broccoli plush. Now I have to have one!! I’ll be trolling ebay hunting! :) Thanks for the info!

  • Wait, shouldn’t that be ” a broccoli stuffed vegetable”? XD

    Seriously though, I have an inordinate (and usually justified, it turns out) nostalgia for 80′s era EPCOT. Kitchen Kabaret wasn’t my favorite compared to Journey Into Imagination, Horizons, World of Motion, or Cranium Command, but it was a lot of fun. And once Food Rocks (by the way, I always assumed the host’s name was Food Rapper, being that he was -duh- an old food wrapper that rapped about food. Spelling it Fud [guessing there's an umlaut in there] Wrapper is probably the most 90′s thing in a whole show full of instantly-dated 90′s things) came to replace it, it was obvious how much more care went into Kabaret.

    All this said, Soarin’ is mom’s favorite ride in the whole park so, hakuna matata.

    • Hey Trish! I do miss 80′s Epcot. It can be sad to see the current state of things. I think I don’t like Soarin’ as much because it’s cloned between the coasts and that is a big pet peeve of mine. Why not make each park unique? Fair enough to have a hang gliding attraction on both coasts… but they exact same movie?? Maybe that is why I would trade it in for an old, dated animatronic show! ;)

  • With no disrespect towards anyone’s childhood memories, I’m 99% convinced that whatever we saw first as a child holds such a dear place in our hearts that logic, common sense, quality or any other force of nature can ever dislodge its special place in our hearts.
    My generation has an illogical fascination with TV dinners and Clutch Cargo. Go figure.
    I enjoyed both Kitchen Kabaret and Food Rocks for what they were, and I’m delighted that Soarin’ has wiped both off the EPCOT map.
    Even as I sat through Mission to Mars and DreamFlight I knew both were hokey, but never mean or spiteful or mocking. And I’m glad they’ve been replaced, too. When I want good old-fashioned schmaltz layered on with a trowel, I go to Carousel of Progress. And I love it for what it is. No more, no less.

    • In most cases I agree. But I grew up with Mr. Toads Wild Ride and I much prefer The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I saw Mission to Mars and preferred ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. I think people like what they like – in my case I think that’s good old-fashioned schmaltz layered on with a trowel. :) I’m surely in the minority, though. As proved by the mile long lines for Soarin’

  • I like Soarin’, but I do really feel like something has been lost in The Land. It’s more about the atmosphere than Food Rocks. I did enjoy that show along with Kitchen Kabaret; it was silly and fun. I don’t see one as being that much better than the other, though.

    • I agree. I loved the fountain the seating area in the land. It used to be tranquil but with the always 100+ minute wait for Soarin’ it is crazy in there now.

      • “I loved the fountain the seating area in the land.”

        So did I! I snapped a photo of it during my honeymoon in 1993 and now am glad that I did.

  • Hey don’t diss Food Rocks. Yes it was kitchy but it was awesome in its chessiness!

  • Did you know that much of the stuff from food Rocks is still there? They built right over it!

    • You know – I didn’t have a good proven source so I didn’t want to publish that as fact. I went on a backstage tour last year and asked this question. Our tour guide’s response was, “What’s Kitchen Kabaret?” …. Kids these days! ;)

      I would LOVE to see this, though. Maybe one of these days!

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