Impressions de France

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Impressions de France
The entrance sign for Impressions de France
Attraction type Film
Theme Survey of France
Opening date October 1, 1982
Ride duration 18:00 minutes
Disney Genie + No

Impressions de France is an attraction located within the France pavilion in World Showcase.

Attraction History

Although Disney had always planned on creating a film for the France pavilion that would give guests an overview of the country, Impressions de France went through many changes before making its debut. Original models for the France pavilion show the Palais du Cinema (which houses the film) as being round[1]. Initially, WDI President Marty Sklar tasked young filmmakers Bob Rogers and Richard Harper with coming up with a concept for a 20 minute Circle-Vision 360 film for the pavilion [2], and after a couple of months, the duo was tasked with creating the film. Unlike 360 films that had been created for the Canada and China however, Harper and Rogers decided that they wanted to present the film in 200 degrees [2]. This would allow guests to sit down while they watched the attraction, while still having the screen cover their peripheral vision.

Before filming on Impressions de France started, director Rick Harper decided to match individual passages of French music, from the late Romantic and early Impressionistic eras, with the proposed filming locations [3]. While shooting the film, Harper and writer/co-producer Bob Rogers sometimes used a stop watch, or played-back the music on a cassette recorder, to ensure that the shots would line up with the music. After filming the scenes, the shots were matched with the musical pieces that Harper had selected [3].

Because of the this pre-planning, the "temp" soundtrack created for the film was far more detailed than is the norm. In total, Harper had about 80% of the score planned out. After hearing the temp score, composer Buddy Baker was enthused by what Harper was trying to do [3]. Baker ended up using all of Harper's selections, but re-orchestrating them to improve the transitions and create bridges to fill the 20% of the film that Harper had not selected tracks for. After the score was complete, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra finally recorded the soundtrack at Abbey Road Studio in London [3].

Impressions de France opened with the rest of the France pavilion on October 1, 1982 [4]. The attraction, along with the rest of the France pavilion, was originally sponsored by French automobile manufacturer Renault [5]. The first significant change to Impressions de France came when Renault's sponsorship of the attraction ended. At this time, the companies logo was removed from the film. Subsequently, in 2011, the film was remastered and the theater was given digital projectors [6].

Film Plot

Impressions de France showcases 46 locations in France, set to a score of classical music. Claude Gobet gives guests sparse narration during the film. The scenes (in order) that appear in Impressions de France are:

1. Cliffs at Étretat in Normandy

2. Marais Poitvin, a swamp near La Rochelle

3. Château Chenonceau, shot from the Loire Valley and the gardens

4. Horsemen and hunting dogs in the Cheverny Forest, with Château Cheverny in the background

5. Chambord in the Loire Valley

6. Vézelay Village and church interior

7. Horsecart riding through Riquewihr Village in Alsace

8. Marketplace in Bouvron in Normandy

9. Wine harvest at Monbazillac Vineyard

10. Cognac cave near city of Cognac

11. Fountain of Apollo, gardens, west face and Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

12. Castle Beynac in Dordogne Valley

13. Forest near Château Montpoupon

14. Bicyclists at La Rogue-Gaceac in Dordogne Valley

15. Bicyclists at Château Montpoupon

16. Bugatti race cars in Cannes

17. Hot air balloons near Chaumont Castle on the Loire River and in cliff city of Rocamadour

18. French Alps in spring

19. Mont Blanc in winter

20. Skiers on rocky peaks in the French Alps at Chamonix

21. La Rochelle harbor

22. Brittany fishing boat at sea

23. Rocky beach in Normandy

24. Mont St.-Michel

25. Small church in Brittany

26. Wedding reception at a Brittany farmyard

27. Cliffs at Normandy in Étretat

28. Cliff city of Bonifacio in Corsica

29. Villefranche near Nice

30. Cove at Calanque Cliffs near Cassis

31. Pier in front of Carlton Hotel in Cannes

32. Rooftop restaurant overlooking Cannes harbor at night

33. Railway tracks in hills of Chaporoux

34. Gare du Nord rail station in Paris

35. Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe

36. Boat on Seine River in Paris, under the Pont Neuf

37. Balloon release at Notre-Dame Cathedral

38. Garde Republicaine rides through the archways at the Louvre

39. La Concierge in Paris

40. Garde Republicaine Stables in Paris

41. Eiffel Tower

42. Étretat Cliffs

43. Alps near Chamonix

44. Château Chambord

45. French Alps near Mont Blanc

46. Eiffel Tower

Ann Harper's Behind The Scenes Photos

Imagineer Rick Harper has been gracious enough to share these never before seen photos from the making of Impressions de France. All photos were taken by Ann Harper

Harper1.jpg Harper2.jpg Harper3.jpg
Harper4.jpg Harper5.jpg Harper6.jpg

Film Credits [7]

Director- Rick Harper

Producer- Rick Harper and Bob Rogers

Score- Rick Harper & Buddy Baker

WriterBob Rogers

Production Managers-Antoine Compin, Charis Horton and Philippe Modave

First Camera Assistant- Joe Nash

Cinematographer- Rick Harper

Camera Assistant- Frank Redmond

Chief Grip- René Strasser

Grip- Yvon Sausseau

Transportation- Hilaire Lovato and Pierre Vimont

Helicopter Pilot- Marc Wolff

Camera Assistant- Steve North

Circle-Vision 200 Camera Operator0 Don Iwerks

Editor- Andre Bacha

Music Research and Editor-Rick Haper

Music Production Coordinator – Richard Clements

Narrator- Claude Gobet

Score [8]

The score for Impressions de France was selected and arranged by director Rick Harper and Buddy Baker. Below is a list of the musical selections chosen, with the original composer in parentheses.

Cliffs of Etretat in Normandy- "Solo for Flute" (Debussey)

Marais Poitvin, a swamp near La Rochelle- "Aquarium" from "Carnival of the Animals" (Saint-Saens)

Château Chenonceau - "Concerto for Harp and Orchestra" (Boieldieu)

Castle Beynac in Dordogne Valley- "Nocture 1" (Debussey)

Bicyclists at La Roque- "Gaite Parisienne" (Offenbach)

Hot air balloons near Chateau Chaumont- "Daybreak" from "Dauphine et Chole Suite 1" (Ravel)

French Alps - "Claire de Lune" (Debussey)

Skiers in Chamonix- "Trois Gymnopedies"(Erik Satie)

Mont St. Michel- "Aquarium" from "Carnival of the Animals" (Saint-Saens)

Wedding reception at a Brittany farmyard - traditional folk music (unidentified)

Railway tracks in hills of Champeauroux- "Finale" from "Carnival of the Animals" (Saint Saens)

Notre Dame de Paris- "Gaite Parisienne" (Offenbach)

Garde Republicaine rides through archway at the Louvre- "Fanfare" from "La Peri" (Dukas)

Eiffel Tower- 4th movement from Organ Symphony no. 3 (Saint Saens)

Watch the Film

To watch Impressions de France, click play below:

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • The screens in the Impressions de France theater are 21 feet high an 27 1/2 feet wide [9].
  • The Palais du Cinema, which houses Impressions de France, is based on a theater in Founteinbleau [9].
  • Impressions de France marked the first time that a film had been completed with an entirely digital soundtrack [10].
  • Initially, Disney film crews shot 140 different locations for the film, before this number was cut down to 46 for the film's final version [11].
  • Don Iwerks created a balanced gimbal rig for the filming of Impressions de France that allowed the camera to be easily adjusted. This pacified Disney's fears about the large circle-vision camera being moved during filming [2].


  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Miller, Keith. “Record-Setting 'Impressions de France' Turns 35 Along with Epcot.” Funworld, Oct. 2017, pp. 22–23.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3
  9. 9.0 9.1