Spotlight: Take Flight – Wilderness Resort

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The entrance to Take Flight

When speaking about simulators, you can’t leave out the flying theatres. These highly popular flight simulators, of which the first premiered in 2001 (Soarin’ over California at Disney California Adventure (CA, U.S.A.)), have been popping up all over the world in the last decade. They can sometimes be found in theme parks, but more and more often they are also establishing themselves as stand-alone attractions. One of the newer flying theatres in the United States is Take Flight – Wilderness Aerial Adventure Ride at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells (WI, U.S.A.). Although part of a resort, Take Flight operates as a stand-alone attraction. In this very first spotlight, we will take a closer look at Take Flight.

Ride: Take Flight
Category: Show Rides
Type: Flying Theatre
Manufacturer: SimEx/Iwerks
Opened: 2 September 2020

Wisconsin Dells is a small town along Highway 90, in the center of Wisconsin state, U.S.A.. Over time, it has become a true domestic tourism destination. Numerous holiday resorts, water parks and theme parks are located either in or in the direct region of Wisconsin Dells, one of them being ‘Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort’. Besides overnight accommodation and golf, Wilderness contains multiple indoor and outdoor water parks, arcades, go-karts, ziplines and other attractions. The latest attraction at Wilderness is ‘Take Flight – Wilderness Aerial Adventure Ride’, a flying theatre that opened on 2 September, 2020. Wilderness operates their flying theatre as a stand-alone attraction and therefore can be visited by guests who do not stay at the resort.

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Souvenir photopoint

After you buy your tickets, you join the queue. Like many tourist attractions, the queue line passes a green screen photo booth, where visitors can have their picture taken. These pictures can be purchased at the end of the experience. The queue line eventually leads to a pre-show, as commonly seen in stand-alone flying theatres. This show consists of a film that provides information on the premise of the attraction and explains the safety instructions. After sitting through this very well done pre-show, you will be led towards the main show.

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The gondola of Take Flight

Take Flight was built by SimEx/Iwerks and consists of 12 5-seat gondolas in front of a large dome projection screen. Guests can board the gondolas on three different floors. Contrary to most flying theatres, bags and loose items are not stored underneath the seat, but in bins next to the ride. When everyone has taken their seat and buckled up their seatbelt, the ride begins. The gondolas will move forward over the edge of a balcony, gaining clear space for the manoeuvres of the gondola. The way of boarding and taking off during the ride is comparable to what we’ve seen in the i-Ride of Brogent Technologies.

Flying Wild

The flagship film of Wilderness’ flying theatre is named ‘Flying Wild’. This film hits on many of the same themes as flying theatres like This is Holland or FlyOver America/Canada. Flying Wild shows multiple locations in the United States from a flying perspective. These  include the immediate surroundings of Wilderness Resort with Wisconsin Dells and Door County (a popular resort/vacation destination on Wisconsin’s eastern lakeshore), but also the likes of Pensacola, FL and Canyonlands and Arches, the two national parks of Moab, UT. 

Numerous flying-film gimmicks have been incorporated, such as killer whales and polar bears added by means of CGI, jump cuts initiated by the perceived flying of objects at the camera/rider and of course a fireworks finale. Special effects such as scent and water sprays are present in the ride. Flying Wild is a solid flying theatre film. There’s much less CGI imagery in the overall makeup of the film compared to some other attractions in this vein, but it provides a distinct set of locations which one flies over.

Trailer for Flying Wild (via Wilderness Resort on YouTube)

A double feature

Although Flying Wild is Take Flight’s main film, the theatre is capable of showing multiple films during the day. Throughout last year’s holiday season, the flying theatre showed a short recut version of Robert Zemick’s film ‘The Polar Express’ (2004), based on the award winning book by Chris Van Allsburg. A similar recut of the movie, called ‘Polar Express Experience’ has been presented as a 3D movie in SeaWorld and various other parks around in the world.

Another film that recently played at Take Flight was called ‘Mesmerica Air’. The experience featured visuals and music by the artist James Hood. It was promoted as a 360 degree family friendly ride intended to reduce stress and would surely have been something unique to experience.

Take Flight currently shows ‘Flight of Aloha’ as its secondary flight film. The film focuses on the exotic islands of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Wilderness’s website is already promoting a third film, called ‘WorldFlight’, showing famous places from all over the world.

The secondary movies at Take Flight often play for a limited period. When planning to visit the attraction, please consult the time schedule on Wilderness’ website.

As a vacation resort, Wilderness needed additional attractions that could operate across four seasons, and Take Flight is precisely that. It appeals to all audiences and doesn’t require a large time investment for those that just want a quick ride on cutting edge technology. Having multiple films also makes it more likely to pull people in for more than one visit; the attraction is very likely a standard part of many visitor’s Wisconsin Dells stops. Take Flight proves again that flying theatres are very populair and work well as a stand-alone attraction. It is likely that Wilderness won’t be the last tourist destination to add a flying theatre.

Take Flight
Flight of Aloha poster (© Wilderness Resort)

© Dark Ride Database
Article by: Alan & Erik
Photos by: Alan