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2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Epcot's Impressions de France

By Robert Niles
Published: March 8, 2010 at 8:57 AM
Voting in the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament starts next week. But before then, we have seven more attractions to introduce, and welcome to the tournament field. Today, we honor Epcot's Impressions de France, the second seed in the Best Movie or Animated Show bracket.

Epcot's Impressions de France

Long-time Theme Park Insider readers will remember that I've been championing this film for years, having written in 2008 that 'Impressions de France' is the best movie ever made for a theme park. Here's what I wrote about the film then:

The twenty minutes that most theme park films get simply isn't enough time to tell a nation's story. So you're left with a simplistic, overly earnest work that tries to charm like a puppy in a pet store cage.

Epcot's Impressions de France wins by refusing to play this game. No traveler ever really learns the story of a nation. At best, he or she absorbs a few instructive impressions about the land he or she has visited. And that's what Impressions de France offers -- impressions.

Impressionism, of course, is France's gift to art. By eschewing narrative for impressionism, director Rick Harper played on France's home turf. And he also created a work that would not grow stale after a few viewings. Effective impressionism reflects the viewer as well as the artist, allowing a work to change and develop in a viewer's eyes over the years, as that viewer brings something different to each encounter with the work.

Impressions de France takes us on a visual tour of the nation, set to the music of French classical music composers, including Debussey and Saint-Saens. The film closes with Saint-Saens' Organ Concerto, as we rise up the Eiffel Tower - a moment that remains, for me, one of the most thrilling in any theme park.

Impressions de France is the work of producer Bob Rogers and director Rick Harper, seen here in front of the Impressions de France storyboard, in a photo provided by Disney Legend (that's an actual title) Marty Sklar:

Bob Rogers, left, and Rick Harper

Obviously, I'm thrilled that Theme Park Insider readers have embraced this film, too, and voted it to a number two seed in the tournament. I'll try to keep my campaigning for it to a minimum going forward. :-)

Oh, whom am I kidding? I love this film. Please share your thoughts about Impressions de France, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on March 8, 2010 at 9:13 AM
Its ok, but I am really not a big fan of this movie either. It is a big snoozefest actually for my family (we like to drift off to sleep after walking around all day).

I think it needs an update too, but I do like the idea and concept. The music, while not Disney, is still excellent.

It has gotten better for me, however, after going to the actual France.

From TH Creative on March 8, 2010 at 9:18 AM
This is such a great film. The music is extraordinary. Easily in my top ten favorite attractions at EPCOT.
From Thomas Caselli on March 8, 2010 at 10:08 AM
I think this movie and it's music is great. I am probably one of the few who likes every movie at Walt Disney World. I don't care how many times that I have seen each one, I could see each one again and again.
From Phil B. on March 8, 2010 at 11:22 AM
Meh. I rather spend my 20 minutes sipping on a Grand Marnier Slush while looking out over the lagoon.
From 69.37.3.46 on March 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM
Honestly, I'd rather see Impressions de France than ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster any day. No contest.
From Joshua Counsil on March 8, 2010 at 1:23 PM
After the high-octane mornings in Future World, this is the first thing I like to do in World Showcase. It's very relaxing, and after all the vineyard scenes, following up the film with a glass of wine and the French acrobats outside is perfect on a sunny day.

Beautiful music and stunning imagery, though the film, not footage, feels dated. Regardless, an 8-Commendable in my books.

From Manny Barron on March 8, 2010 at 1:28 PM
This is a cool relaxing movie. Definitely one of those chill places(with seats!) at Epcot. The movie, unfortunately is dated but it is what it is and its a fine place to go and see a bit of France.
From Randy Scott on March 12, 2010 at 3:43 PM
I prefer to spend my time in France eating an eclair at Boulange de Pasterie and then going to the French gift store and talking like Inspector Clouseau while trying on berets.

The film just can't compare to that!

I did not know that the Hulk coaster stopped at EPCOT. I'll try that next time instead ;-)

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