By Ken Hegan for MSN
If you were a superhero who could fly around without a jetpack or plane, where would you go?
That’s the premise behind FlyOver Canada, an epic new tourist attraction debuting this holiday weekend in Vancouver.
Starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday, tourists can march off a cruise ship at Canada Place and virtually fly across our nation.
It’s an idea borrowed from Disney’s Soarin’ Over California experience in Anaheim. But while that virtual experience sends you hang-gliding over California destinations like Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley, Palm Springs, and Malibu, FlyOver Canada is more like a ski chairlift that suddenly rips loose from its frozen cable, flinging you sideways across our Great White North.
FlyOver Canada has been three years in the making, cost $16 million, and is owned by the Aquilini Investment Group, who also own the Vancouver Canucks. So expect lots of diving and whining about the refs.
There are two stages. First there’s a pre-show created by Moment Factory of Montreal who designed audio-visual displays for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Then comes the main attraction, the actual ‘FlyOver Canada’ movie. It was filmed in HD by a Whistler production company, Sherpas Cinema, aboard swooping helicopters as they buzz unsuspecting Canadians on the ground.
Look out, kid!
First you get strapped into a hydraulic chair. Then you’re lifted up to a massive, 20-meter, half-spherical dome (converted from the old IMAX theatre). Basically it’s a giant curved TV screen that floats you over incredible Canadian scenery. In the words of Vancity Buzz, the footage shows off the “sheer scale, beauty, and geographical and urban diversity of the country.”
The result: you’ll feel like you’re racing from province to province, without the help of airplanes or mind-altering substances. You can watch a short and gorgeous teaser here.
The entire flight plan takes 30 minutes. Apparently you’ll also experience special effects like mist, wind, and scents (and not just the sickly smell of kids vomiting as you whiz over spooked horses).
Any guesses where else the flight will take you?
If you said iconic Canadian scenery like the Rockies, icebergs, glaciers, Canada Place’s sails, raging whitewater rapids, Niagara Falls, stampeding prairie horses, the Maritimes, Parliament Hill, CN Tower, and the outdoor screen in Toronto where shocked Maple Leafs fans watched their team implode to the Boston Bruins at the very end of Game 7, you’re right.
Okay, yes, I’m just kidding about flying over long-suffering Leafs fans (as a lifelong Bobby Orr/Boston Bruins fan, I couldn’t resist a little teasing). But the more I think about it, wouldn’t it be great if the FlyOver Canada experience meant you could fly over other stunning events in Canadian history?
Personally, I would love it if FlyOver Canada could fly me back in time, over Sunset Beach in Vancouver a few summers ago, when I shared a sweet first kiss with the lass who became my superfine girlfriend.
How about you…if you could soar over any incredible Canadian place or moment in history, where would you fly?
— Ken Hegan
IF YOU GO:
FlyOver Canada is located on the Canada Place pier in the heart of downtown Vancouver, near the SkyTrain’s Waterfront Station. Address: 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC
General admission: $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors, students, and youth, and $14.95 for kids. Discounts available online.
Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week
Read more of Ken’s travel stories here
Images courtesy FlyOver Canada