July 20, 2024

Distinctly Unpatriotique Changes for “Impressions de France”


Walt Disney World has quietly made significant reductions to the showtimes of Impressions de France, while also scheduling it at about the most inconvenient time of day possible. This post will share details, our commentary,

Walt Disney World has quietly made significant reductions to the showtimes of Impressions de France, while also scheduling it at about the most inconvenient time of day possible. This post will share details, our commentary, and a quick call to action.

According to Walt Disney World’s new operating schedule, Impressions de France now officially opens at 9 am and closes at 9:30 am each day. The Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along now runs the rest of the day from 10 am until 8:45 pm.

Interestingly, Impressions de France is also listed as operating during Early Theme Park Entry at Walt Disney World on its attraction page, meaning it’s open for on-site resort hotel guests from 8:30 am to 9 am. This update is not yet been reflected on the Early Entry page, but it stands to reason that this change is correct.

Prior to this change, Impressions de France had been shown from 7:30 pm until park closing each day. This certainly was not the ideal schedule, but it actually worked pretty well for us. We frequently caught one of its later showings and then exited in time to grab a spot for Harmonious in the Japan pavilion or back by the Remy topiary near the Metro entrance, which offers a surprisingly good view of the pyro.

With this, the 18-minute long Impressions de France should have 3 daily showtimes, with only 1 of those realistically being watchable by off-site guests. That would require arriving at park opening, and booking it to the back of the park to rope drop the France pavilion–but not do the headliner attraction, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, while its wait times are manageable.

This change is distinctly unpatriotique. To borrow another phrase from Sam Eagle, it amounts to “a salute to all nations, but mostly America.” Well, scratch the “all” nations part. It’s a minor salute to France (or major poke in the eye), plus a major salute to the American-made Beauty and the Beast. 

There are several odd aspects of this story, and the first is giving even more showtimes to the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along. For those who are unfamiliar with it, see our post: We Ranked All 88 Attractions at Walt Disney World. This sing-along is #88, with those rankings concisely describing it as an “offensively bad piece of revisionist lore that spews forth the untold story of LeFou, which should have remained that way. Far worse than a direct-to-video sequel, and proof that fanfic authors might someday see their awful dreams turned into our painful realities.”

For the longer winded version, see New EPCOT Film Review: The Good & The Ugly. (Spoiler: it’s the ugly one!) This is not our bias speaking as diehard fans of Impressions de France. That sing-along is one of the worst things I’ve ever had to endure at any Disney park anywhere. I don’t say this lightly: it’s worse than Dino-Rama.

The Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along is also not particularly popular. It’s not like this is drawing huge crowds or lines, and I refuse to believe it’s scoring well on guest satisfaction surveys or families are clamoring to see it late at night. I might be cynical, but I have not lost complete faith in humanity. I realize young children like odd things, but even they have better taste than this. Playing in a cardboard box is exponentially superior to the sing-along.

As far as further commentary goes, this reminds me of what I wrote back in early 2020 when the reduced showtimes for Impressions de France were first revealed. For years, it has seemed like a foregone conclusion that Impressions de France’s days were numbered. At first, it was feared the theater would be consumed by the expansion of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. When it was granted a reprieve from that, many figured it was only a matter of time before that needed the space, either for a shop or supporting offering to help with crowds.

When the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along was announced, it was a shock that the new offering would alternate showings with Impressions de France. Even when that announcement was made, I assumed it’d be a year or less until a blog post with, “due to its overwhelming popularity and feedback from our guests, the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along will now have even more showtimes so more guests can enjoy this beloved attraction…”

Three years ago, I wrote that it was an “inevitability” that the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along would overtake Impressions de France at some point. Granted, I had not been subjected to the sing-along at that point, so I didn’t realize that it would make Stitch’s Great Escape look like a masterpiece of Imagineering.

When I first learned about the March 2023 showtime change for Impressions de France, my reaction was similar. Perhaps the late showtimes proved too popular and didn’t support the preordained conclusion park operations wanted to reach–that Impressions de France should be retired. Surely, moving it to first thing in the morning would do the trick.

That’s distinctly unpatriotique (are there even matinees in France? I cannot imagine the French getting up early for entertainment) and a death sentence for the film, as it cannot compete with Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure as rope drop attractions. It will be playing to empty houses. (On a related note, I’m surprised the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along even opened this early before–no other films in World Showcase do.)

Then I got thinking more about this, and started questioning the premise of my assumption that someone at Walt Disney World wants to kill Impressions de France. Disney finds ways to contort its guest survey and visitor data to reach predetermined conclusions all the time. Things happen “by popular guest demand” all the time that most definitely were not demanded by anyone, let alone a large chunk of guests.

There are thus two possibilities. The first is that there was simply no way to massage the numbers and guest feedback to reach a conclusion that ending Impressions de France is what guests wanted. This could be because it does stronger per show numbers, has higher guest satisfaction scores, or both.

None of that would surprise me. I’m not kidding or exaggerating with my criticism of the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along. It is atrocious. Even regular guests, who tend to be much more forgiving of anything with their favorite characters, likely recognize this.

The second possibility is that Walt Disney World can’t end Impressions de France without additional consequences. Back while researching our post about cultural representatives returning to EPCOT, I spent an inordinate amount of time reading legislation and law review articles about the work visas used in World Showcase. That research was overkill for the article, but I found it fascinating.

In any case, one of the things that stuck with me was that the purpose of the visas that Walt Disney World uses are for “sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the country” of their nationality. This made me wonder whether Cast Members who are assigned exclusively to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along can qualify for that visa.

In other words, Impressions de France might be sticking around not because Disney wants to keep it, but because they need to keep it as a means of complying with the visas used for cultural representatives. This is purely speculative on my part–it’s something that I suspect might be true, and that would make sense to me, but I don’t have any insight one way or the other.

If the second scenario is accurate, Impressions de France is safe, albeit at an incredibly inconvenient time. If the former is correct, it can be “saved” with further feedback from guests. Either way, we strongly recommend that fans of the film share with Walt Disney World how they feel about this scheduling change.

Whenever appropriate, we recommend that guests respectfully express disappointment and explain how the company’s decisions and practices will impact your vacations with Walt Disney World by emailing [email protected].

If you’re going to visit EPCOT and were planning to see Impressions de France but are disappointed by inconvenient showtimes, address it when participating in guest satisfaction surveys, bring it up if you speak with managers or others in park leadership, or even proactively contact Guest Relations to politely let them know how you feel.

“Respectfully” and “politely” are the operative words here for a reason. While an irate rant might make you feel better, it’s not the route to take if your goal is effectuating change. We’ve seen and heard way too many guests offer snide or sarcastic feedback; venting can be cathartic, but that’s about it. “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is a cliche, but it’s also one that a disturbing number of adults don’t seem to grasp.

Given all of the negative changes and guest unfriendly policies that Walt Disney World has enacted in the last couple of years, it might seem like the company no longer cares about guest satisfaction and feedback. It’s probably true that there are some at the highest levels of leadership who don’t, or focus more on objective KPIs, but there most certainly are leaders on the ground in Florida who care. In many cases, it’s simply a matter of them being able to show “support” when fighting for things, budgets, etc.

Ultimately, we know this is a lengthy post and odd standalone topic for a “simple” scheduling change. However, we felt it was worth writing about for a couple of reasons. First, because the last time we covered the schedule change–back in early 2020–that post garnered 65 comments, many coming from frustrated fans who love Impressions de France.

Clearly many of the bright and beautiful readers of this blog enjoy Impressions de France and would want to know about this news. It’s also possible that feedback from the community has helped Impressions de France stick around for the 3 years since.

Second, we’re sharing out of selfishness. We see Impressions de France more than we do literally any other attraction in EPCOT. We’ve made a concerted effort to visit every one of its filming locations in France (that’s us in the photo above, recreating the scene in the photo above that). We’re probably the closest thing Impressions de France has to super fans, and I will never hesitate to use this blog as a platform for pro-Impressions de France propaganda.

In my defense, our motives are pure of heart. Impressions de France is the best film-based attraction in EPCOT, almost completely timeless (only a couple of 80s outfits), as well as a beautiful and effective ‘sales pitch’ for visiting France. By contrast, the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along is an abomination to which no one should be subjected. So really, this post isn’t just selfish–it’s an act of community service, warning friends who might otherwise unwittingly see the sing-along. 😉

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What do you think of the scheduling change for Impressions de France? Will this make it difficult or impossible for you to watch the best film in EPCOT? Worried that this means more guests will accidentally be subjected to the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along? Any questions we can help you answer? 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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