June 18, 2024

Chief Flight Attendant Patrick Acquaints Soarin’ Aviators with Important Safety Info

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Walt Disney World and Disneyland send out a lot of press releases about celebrities visiting the parks. Despite this being a shockingly popular thing, this blog doesn't typically cover it for two reasons: I do

Walt Disney World and Disneyland send out a lot of press releases about celebrities visiting the parks. Despite this being a shockingly popular thing, this blog doesn’t typically cover it for two reasons: I do not care and/or I do not know who these people are.

However, I have to make an exception and take a point of personal privilege, so to speak, to quickly cover a visit by a very important celebrity–and one who is “Disney famous” to boot. Lucky guests at Disney California Adventure received a surprise welcome from their very own Chief Flight Attendant, Patrick “Puddy” Warburton, in celebration of the limited time return of Soarin’ Over California during Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, taking place now through April 22, 2024.

For more than twenty years, Patrick has greeted guests to Soarin’ attractions at Disney California Adventure in California and at EPCOT in Florida with some “important safety tips” in a pre-recorded safety video before taking flight. Puddy’s appearance is so endearing that it endured the change from Soarin’ Over California to Around the World, even. (Honestly, I was kinda disappointed when Soaring: Fantastic Flight opted against the Puddy pre-show. Warburton could’ve become the new Tommy Lee Jones or Bob Harris of Japan!)

This time, Patrick decided to conduct his final safety check in person before surprised guests flew through picturesque locations in California, including Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs, San Diego, Malibu at dusk and the frenzied headlights of rush hour traffic through Downtown Los Angeles, all before returning for a triumphant flight over Disneyland at Christmas, circa 2000.

As we argued recently, the original Soarin’ stands the test of time–just like Impressions de France, which is still shown in EPCOT 30+ years later. (Soarin’ Over California vs. Around the World is quite polarizing among fans–it seems like it’s about 50/50!) Part of that is the great real-world (non-CGI) footage, and part is Patrick’s timeless performance.

See how the surprise took flight in this video released by Disney:

“It’s just magical to see how beloved Soarin’ Over California still is after all of these years,” Patrick shared. “I can remember my first trip to Disneyland at the age of five and I continue to be a huge Disney fan, so to be part of a Disney attraction that has lasted this long has just been such a sweet and wonderful thing for me.”

“Getting to surprise guests today was super fun, and it’s great to see the impact that this safety intro has made for the past 23 years and how people still love it. It was such a blast getting to be the Chief Flight Attendant for Soarin’ Over California once again!”

Warburton previously revealed to D23 that being part of a Disney ride was one of the most special opportunities that he had been granted while working in the industry. Adding that Disneyland is a special place for him to share with his children. “It’s been an honor to be associated with a Disney ride,” Patrick added.

On social media a few years ago, a former Imagineer who worked on the original Soarin’ Over California revealed that Warburton was chosen for the role after the team saw him as Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove.

Two months before Disney California Adventure opened in 2001, the Imagineering still hadn’t shot the pre-show. There had been interest from John Travolta, but his shooting schedule and beard made that difficult–and it was the humor of Kronk that sealed the deal on Warburton for Imagineering.

Which begs the question, were Imagineers not fans of Seinfeld?! Honestly, that’s what ‘sold’ me on Soarin’ years ago. Obviously, the attraction itself is excellent, but it’s the Chief Flight Attendant who gives it personality and humanity–helping elevate Soarin’ to an excellent Disney attraction instead of just a really good ride. (To be sure, it’s not just the pre-show. The score, the little details in the video–it all adds up.)

Warburton being perfect for the Chief Flight Attendant role would’ve been obvious to Seinfeld fans, as Warburton played David Puddy, the on-and-off again boyfriend of the Elaine Benes, in that show. Puddy stole so many scenes thanks to Warburton’s deadpan humor in playing the dopey guy. You get a little glimpse of that in the Soarin’ pre-show, which is (I think) even funnier if you’re familiar with Puddy.

Of course, it’s no secret that this blog is stridently pro-Seinfeld. Festivus is a recurring topic every December 23, and almost every post used to contain nods to Seinfeld. (Those have been dialed back dramatically over the years since it’s been off the air for so long; I would make more Curb Your Enthusiasm references, but most would probably be inappropriate for a Disney blog.)

Around our house, Seinfeld references are still quite common, with one of my favorites being Puddy’s “We’re the Devils! The Deeeeeevils! Hissssss.” One of the best episodes in a series of great episodes. (I’m frankly surprised it has seen a resurgence on Netflix–the kids today don’t appreciate true art.)

It’s probably meaningless, but I hope this means Warburton is doing more with Disney. Years ago, we flew down specifically to see John O’Hurley (J. Peterman) narrate Candlelight Processional, and would do the same for Warburton. Who knows, maybe this opens the door for Larry David to do something with Disney. I doubt it, but he did just feature Disney in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm this year.

The point is that we’re really big Seinfeld fans and wish we would’ve been there to see Warburton in person…yada yada yada… “Nice work, Pal!”

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!

Your Thoughts

Are you a fan of Patrick “Puddy” Warburton in Soarin’s pre-show? Do you hope that he’s always the Chief Flight Attendant, no matter how many future films replace the current aerial footage? Would you prefer to see Soarin’ Over California or Soarin’ Around the World…or both? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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