Fly Over Canada: A virtual adventure

Fly over Canada is one of the newest tourist attractions in Vancouver and offers a different way to see Canada from above.

Fly over Canada is a virtual, high technology, 4D flight over the territory of Canada, which shows the amazingly beautiful nature of Canada. Special effects like wind, rain, mist, scents and change in temperatures, combined with the movement of the seats, make this virtual experience extraordinarily realistic.

The duration of the whole experience is about 30 minutes and includes: a short movie about Canada, instructions for the flight and the flight itself, which lasts a little bit more than 8 minutes.

Taking pictures inside is not allowed and unwillingly I put my iPhone in my purse.

After the short instructions about safety during the flight, we enter the theater. The space is long and narrow with only one row of seats with protectie railing.

The seats are similar to those of the attractions in an amusement park. Before I take my seat, I look over the railing and all I see is the white screen. It is spherical and continues on the walls and the floor.

Fly Over Canada

All pictures in this post are from the “Fly Over Canada” souvenir book.

Purses and personal belongings should be left under the seats. We fasten the seatbelts and looking at the screen I feel like I am at the movies and at an amusement park at the same time. I am trying to imagine what we will be looking at.

After everyone is at their seats with the seatbelts fastened, the protective railing moves down and disappears completely. The lights go off and it becomes pitch dark. I can’t see anything but I feel that the whole row of seats moves forward over the screen – the flight starts!

My feet are in the air, the experience is very authentic – I can see very well as if I am sitting at the window seat in an airplane but actually I am not inside the plane but sitting on the wing. All I can see around, above and beneath me is the ocean, the icebergs, the sky and the rising sun. There is no subtitles or voices – nothing is distracting our attention during the flight. All I can hear is symphony music.

We are going to “fly over” 18 nature scenes in Canada, from east to west and in different seasons.

Scene 1: We are over Hudson Bay in Nunavut and Manitoba in the middle of the winter, where the temperatures are -50 C. We see the rising sun.

Fly Over Canada

Scene 2: Twillingate, Newfoundland. We are flying over the water at 4:30 am and we can see the sun rising. We fly low over a fishing boat.

Scene 3: Iceberg Alley, Newfoundland is stretching from the coast of Labrador to Newfoundland. We are flying very low and we go by two icebergs who are 10,000 years old.

Fly Over Canada

Scene 4: Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland. We are flying over the mountains and we reach the end or the rocks, we fly low in the gorge of the river.

Fly Over Canada

Scene 5: Riviere Rouge, Quebec. From the river gorge we go to Quebec during fall. We fly over the forests with their splendid red, orange and yellow colours. We fly very low over the swift-flowing river and almost touch with our feet the kayaks that are in the waters.

Scene 6: Niagara Falls, Ontario. We are now over the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The mist is surrounding us and we feel the 4D effect of real mist on our skin.

Scene 7: A night flight over Toronto, Ontario. We fly very close to CN Tower and we see the lights of the moving cars and the city, and fireworks in the night sky.

Scene 8: Lake Muskoka, Ontario. We fly over boats surrounded by birds.

Scene 9: Rockyford, Alberta. We fly over the prairies and the endless fields of wheat. We see horses on the Prairies who are actually movie-trained horsed and are used to working in similar conditions. The creators of “Fly Over Canada” didn’t want to disturb the wild life with the noisy low-flying helicopters.

Scene 10: (Mount Louis) Banff National Park, Alberta. From the Prairies we are suddenly now flying over Mount Louis. This scene was one of the most exciting and interesting scenes for me. We were literally flying OVER this 8,799 ft high peak, only the mountains around us, and I almost felt scared for a second or two that I can fall. Of course I knew that that is not possible but the experience is so real that the feeling of fear together with the feeling of awe before these magnificent peaks don’t go away.

Fly Over Canada

Scene 11: Near Golden, British Columbia. We are flying over the famous train the Rocky Mountaineer, who offers spectacular views on its regular journey from British Columbia to Alberta. We can see its glass roof and the passengers inside.

Scene 12: Lake Tyaughton, British Columbia. It is winter, the ground is covered with snow and we feel it is cold. We fly very low over the frozen lake where and we see boys playing hockey. By instinct I slightly lift my feet not to touch a hockey stick… and then again the mind reminds me that this is virtual and not possible but still it interferes with the coordination of thoughts and movements.

Scene 13: Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC. We fly over the same lake in summer time and again I slightly lift my feet not to get them wet.

Scene 14: Bella Coola, BC. We are again flying over the mountains covered in snow and I get this feeling of fear that I am going to fall because we fly very high this time. We can see skiers below us.

Scene 15: Blue Mountain Winery, the Okanagan Area in BC. Underneath we see the endless fields of the winery.

Fly Over Canada

Scene 16: Canada Place, Vancouver. We are now actually flying over the place where we are at the moment. We see Vancouver Downtown and we fly over the high-rise buildings. We lived four years in one of these buildings in Downtown.

Scene 17: Tofino, Vancouver Island. The westernmost point of Canada, we fly over the ocean and the boats. The people in the boats are representatives of the local First Nations.

Scene 18: Churchill, Manitoba. We witness the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) which means “the dawn of the North. The Northern Lights can be seen in Canada’s northern parts in many different forms – from little scattered clouds to huge rays that light up the sky in unreal glow.

The virtual flight is over and we are back to the reality on the seat in the long and narrow theater. We go outside but the memory of this virtual experience will stay with me for a long time. It was very realistic experience and at moments I got confused if I am not actually sitting on the wing of an airplane… I want to do it again and on my ticket it says that if I go back the same day, I can relive the “flight” for half-price.

I don’t go back, there is no time, but I sit down and write this post and I relive the emotions again.

Interesting information:

  • All scenes, with the exception of the first and the last one, are filmed by cameras, mounted on helicopters. As it was not possible to show all of Canada’s amazing landscapes, the creators of the movie focused on places that show the variety of the Canadian landscapes, seasons and colours.
  • The first and last scenes are filmed by Laserjet flown by ex-military pilots.
  • The music was specially created for the “Fly over Canada” movie from musicians from the Vancouver Film Orchestra.

Fly Over Canada

Useful information:

  • Fly over Canada is located in Vancouver Downtown, at the Canada Place key.
  • The attraction is open for visitors all year round, every day from 10 am to 7 pm. The virtual show starts every 15 minutes. The whole experience is around 30 minutes long and includes a movie about Canada, instructions about the flight and the “virtual flight” itself which lasts a little more than 8 minutes.
  • Ticket price: CAD 22 per person. You can buy tickets online or at the information booth at in front of Canada Place. You can find more information here.

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