Navy Pier Flyover blowing away visitors with breathtaking ride, impactful storytelling

ByJustyna Syska & Jordan Arseneau Localish logo
Monday, April 15, 2024
Navy Pier Flyover blowing away visitors
The exhilarating new experience at Navy Pier in Chicago lets you fly over the city.

CHICAGO -- A virtual reality tour of Chicago landmarks and culture opened to the public on March 1, and has been blowing away visitors with its breathtaking ride and impactful storytelling.

"It's going to give you a perspective of the city that you may not have ever thought was possible," Connor Cunningham proudly said about Navy Pier's new immersive experience, Flyover Chicago. "It made me feel proud to live here."

Flyover boasts a complete multi-sensory experience unlike anything Chicago has experienced before.

"It's actually a 180-degree lens, so it sees everything," said Cunningham, who was the preliminary drone scout and tech for the project. In addition to the visuals, Flyover simulates wind to enhance the flying experience and even captures the smells of the city.

"You may smell a coffee shop or even a lake breeze," said Derek Poitras, Flyover Chicago's general manager.

Flyover takes visitors through a 30-minute program comprised of three acts, each more impressive than the last.

Act One takes guests through a series of interactive portraits that highlight the different people and cultures that exist within Chicago.

Act Two intensifies the visual elements. Viewers enter a 360-degree theater with huge curved screens lining the walls and watch a six-minute video.

"A lot of times in that second act, people come away wiping tears away from their eyes," Poitras said. The contents of the video dive deep into the DNA of Chicago and stories of its residents.

The experience ends with Act Three, the raved-about immersive ride where you get to "fly" through the city.

SEE ALSO: Flyover in Chicago opens at Navy Pier, offering riders immersive experience

"Your legs are just dangling, and, really, all your senses kind of go away," said Cunningham. The ride, whose seats look almost like a rollercoaster, has six different ranges of motion that simulate flying.

The footage of the ride was carefully shot and edited.

"A lot of effort went into stitching, stitching all these shots together and making sure that it felt like one long continuous flow," Cunningham said.

Capturing the shots of Chicago was no small feat for Cunningham and his team.

"It took us two years, just flying and exploring all those different angles and different places that we could go," he said.

The experience was filmed using a 44-pound full-size drone, which was custom-made to be able to capture breathtaking footage and fit through the narrow doors of the Chicago Theatre without bumping the walls.

"I've already been on the ride five times," Cunningham said.

Because of the sheer amount of content in the presentation, viewers will pick up on new details during each flight.

The ride features popular landmarks, such as the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, The Tribune Tower and the Chicago Theatre, but there are a few unexpected surprises peppered throughout the experience. Even those who are extremely familiar with the city still leave having experienced something that feels completely new.

"It's not just for tourists; it really is built for locals," Poitras said. "It's a true love letter to the city."

Learn more or buy tickets for Flyover Chicago here, and check out Flyover's social media.