Sum of all Thrills is a simulator ride that puts the “education” in “Educational Prototype Community Of Tomorrow”. Now for some, that may not be the best way to get you excited about a thrill ride. However, this ride promises a fun time by using math and science as you create your own custom designed thrill experience.
Wait a second Ben. I thought you said we are covering thrill rides. When I think thrill ride, I think roller coaster. When I think roller coaster I think Expedition Everest or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. When you said Sum of all Thrills, I put it in My Disney Experience app and a ride didn’t even come up. I looked on Disney’s own website and it just pulls up the Innoventions East pavilion. How can this thing possibly be a thrill ride when I can’t even check wait times?
Is that what you are trying to ask through your phone, speakers, or earbuds right now? If so that is fine, I asked myself the same questions when I first heard about this ride. When it came down to selecting a thrill ride for EPCOT, I first thought of Test Track, Soarin’, or Mission: SPACE. All of these rides are a lot of fun and get the blood pumping. However, for this month of podcasting, I really want to stick to roller coasters.
On my last trip to EPCOT, Sum of all Thrills was at the top of the list of rides to explore. I had never heard of this ride before and I couldn’t wait to experience a new Disney ride! Before arriving at the park I attempted to do some research on the ride and I found information rather difficult to come by. As I mentioned above, you can’t even find the ride on the Disney app or website. Have no fear though, the WDW Ride Guide Podcast is here!
First things first, you have to find this ride. It is not in a massive building of its own like Soarin’ or Mission: Space, but rather tucked away inside the Innoventions East pavilion. After you go through the ticket counter and walk past Spaceship Earth, you will see Innoventions East on your left. This large building is on the same side of the park as Test Track, Mission: SPACE, and Universe of Energy. Once inside just follow the path and you will soon see the area dedicated to Sum of all Thrills.
When you arrive, you will be able to see the ride in its entirety right in front of you. The footprint of this ride is one of the smallest in all of Walt Disney World. However, that doesn’t keep it from packing a punch! Behind the plexiglass walls are 4 KUKA robotic arms swinging current riders through the air. If you like people watching, then get ready for some fun as you experience robot watching. These giant arms dance in the cool air-conditioned air with two pairs of legs dangling from the end. Trying to imagine the journey the riders connected to those legs are experiencing is a fun game in itself.
As you pass under the bright neon Sum of all Thrills sign, you soon enter the briefing room. Here, co-hosts Grace and Spencer explain how engineers use math and science to bring cool things like race cars and giant skyscrapers to life. The ride’s sponsor Raytheon gets a big plug as they are credited for helping inspire the next generation of technologists and innovators. I just love the combination of education and fun, a dynamic duo that has been in existence at EPCOT since the park opened.
Once Grace and Spencer finish their 2 minute educational program, Spencer moves over to the Design Lab and gives a demonstration of how to design your very own thrill ride! That’s right, each experience on this ride is designed by YOU! At your digital touchscreen, you are given the choice between three ride vehicles: bobsled, roller coaster, or jet. If you want a slower thrill, choose the bobsled, or put the pedal to the metal with the jet. After your vehicle is selected, you will be given four track pieces to choose from. You can select a mild piece like a simple hill or a wild piece like a full loop. Next, you will use your special ruler and accelerator knob to build your roller coaster. As you add drops and turns to your track, you can use Crash, your test bot, to test the design and learn how much each energy each section requires. Math and science continue to play a big role as you fine tune your experience. After you build your first couple of track pieces, you will notice a countdown timer at the top of the screen. You will then need to make your final selections before time runs out. Once your coaster passes the test you are almost ready to ride.
With your coaster built, all that’s left is to name your creation and then get ready to experience your one-of-a-kind ride. Be sure to scan your Sum of all Thrills card as the cast member at the top of the stairs will need this to upload your ride. Once upstairs you will be provided a locker to hold all your belongings while you ride.
When it came time to experience our first custom-built roller coaster, Rachel and I squeezed into the seats hanging 20 feet above the ground. I say squeezed because the seats can be a little tight for some. I am about 6’ 3” and just under 200 pounds so I’m no Tinkerbell. I did fit into the seats without a problem but there was not much room to spare. If you are worried about this being an issue there are “test” seats located to the far left of the ride before you enter the queue. You can take a seat in these grounded demos and alleviate any doubt.
When you are settled in your seat, the simulator is lowered from above and you are locked in. This is a very different feeling and experience than anything else I have done in Walt Disney World. The individual simulator screen directly in front of you feels very high tech. The coaster comes to life on your screen and you begin your journey of turning, twisting, and flipping through the air. Of course, the intensity of these movements varies based upon your selections, but overall the ride is very smooth. It only takes about a minute to complete your thrill ride masterpiece and then you are safely back on solid ground.
For our first ride on Sum of all Thrills, we choose the Roller Coaster option, which falls in the middle of the thrill scale. We did include some inversions and got up to some blazing speeds. Still, next time I ride I will go all out with the Jet option. I left my simulator feeling I could have gone faster. That is the great thing about this ride though, I can go back and have a whole new experience. I know some riders that go on Sum of all Thrills 3 or 4 times so they can repeat the fun of designing and riding a new thrill each time. Depending on the time of day and crowd levels, this could be done in a relatively short amount of time.
No matter how many times you ride, the adventure isn’t complete until you get back home from your Disney vacation. The really neat feature here is that you can bring your Sum of all Thrills card home and relive the experience at www.mathmovesu.com. You can watch the video of your custom thrill ride and there are several other fun games and resources to keep the educational journey alive. I will include some screen shots of our ride as well as the mathmovesu website. Be sure to go over to wdwrideguide.com to check these out.
So that sums up the Sum of all Thrills! While this ride is not in my top 5 rides of all time, it is among my top 5 overlooked rides in the Kingdom. The height requirements, size of the simulator seats, and physical conditions warning narrows down the field of potential riders. This isn’t a ride the whole family will probably be able to do together. However, for those that can, I encourage you to check out this ride. If you have a family of thrill-seekers, chances are this ride will be one of their favorites. The ability to design your own roller coaster is a lot of fun. I would even say this might be one place you will have just as much fun in the pre-ride as you do on the ride itself. Try to go earlier in the morning or later in the evening as the line can build in the middle of the day and there is no Fastpass +.
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