Throughout all of Walt Disney World there is only one place that truly takes guests away from Central Florida and on a sweeping tour of beautiful France. Impressions de France offers a glimpse into the culture, history, architecture, landscapes, and people of France through sweeping music and soaring projection screens. So, let’s take a trip to France!
Opening with Epcot on October 1, 1982, Impressions de France has been sweeping guests away for over thirty years. Located in the rear of the France pavilion, the film is screened in the Palais du Cinema which was inspired by the Chateau de Fontainebleau. The three hundred and fifty seat theater features a two hundred degree panoramic view on five screens measuring twenty seven and a half by twenty one feet. Impressions de France is an eighteen minute film co-produced by Rick Harper and Bob Rogers of Walt Disney Imagineering and narrated by Claud Gorbet. The film features sweeping views of beautiful France set to a score arranged by Buddy Baker featuring the music of such French composers as Debussy, Saint-Saens, Boieldieu, and Offenbach performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
Once inside the Palais du Cinema, take note of the female Cast Members’ uniforms. They were inspired by the last major work of French painter Edouard Manet “A Bar at the Folies.” Be sure to take some extra time and wander the lobby of the film which features several displays shedding light on the architecture and history of France. There is also a great photo opportunity with a sculpted gargoyle.
Once guests are seated inside the theater, the film begins with beautiful views of the coast. Guests are then treated to scenes such as a marketplace in Normandy, skiers in the French Alps, the Seine, the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, Cannes, cyclists in La-Roque Gageac, the Loire River, and Mont Saint-Michel. What makes Impressions de France so captivating is the diverse range of scenes for guests to enjoy. There are the quiet hills of the French countryside, the lapping waves on a coastline, the strong architecture of Paris, and of course, the sweeping views of the Eiffel Tower.
During the film, look for a moment when the two outermost screens depict the French flag. Renault was a previous sponsor of the France pavilion in Epcot, and its logo used to appear on those two screens during the film. When the sponsorship ended, waving French flags replaced the logo without having to edit the film itself. Also be on the lookout for a Hidden Mickey while enjoying the film! During the wedding scene, look in the background for a second story window featuring a Hidden Mickey.
After a beautiful tour of France, the film closes with a dramatic view of the Eiffel Tower at dusk, leaving guests embodied with the spirit of the country. It’s a film that perfectly captures the beauty of France set to a truly wonderful score, and it can be viewed easily time and time again. If you have never stopped to take in Impressions de France or maybe haven’t seen it in a while, I highly recommend a visit on your next trip to Epcot!
(Photo from the author’s personal collection.)
Do you love Impressions de France? Have a favorite scene or piece of music that is featured? Ever spotted the Hidden Mickey? Let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!