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Impressions de France Is Better Than Soarin’

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At first blush, a proclamation that Impressions de France is superior to Soarin’ might seem like an intentionally provocative statement made simply for shock value. I mean, look at the respective popularity of the two attractions. Look at the wait times. Soarin’ is one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World with some of the longest waits. Impressions de France usually plays to half-empty theaters. However, last time I checked, popularity wasn’t a proxy for excellence. If it were, Corona would be ‘more excellent’ than Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (but if you enjoy piss water, I suppose it might be). Likewise, wait times are influenced by a variety of factors and are also not a proxy for awesomeness, as evidenced by the longer waits seen at Toy Story Mania than at Pirates of the Caribbean.

Since this isn’t a popularity contest, I’ll break down these two attractions, which are two of my favorite attractions at Epcot, to demonstrate why Impressions de France is objectively and statistically (and by that, I mean purely subjectively) better than Soarin’.

Audio – Both attractions have amazing scores. Two of the best in Walt Disney World, in fact. Smart critics seem to use the phrase “hauntingly beautiful” to describe well-orchestrated music, and although I don’t know what it means (perhaps it evokes thoughts of pretty ghosts?), I think hauntingly beautiful is an apt way to describe Impressions de France. As those first few light notes build into a more enveloping score, I get goosebumps.

Disney Legend Buddy Baker arranged and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the score, which was assembled from a variety of classical French music. This was one of over 200 scores Baker composed for Disney. The score both complements the imagery on the screen well, and immerses the viewer in the film. Thanks to the score, even fairly run of the mill scenes in the video become spellbinding.

Soarin’ is no slouch with its score, either. Master film composer Jerry Goldsmith arranged Soarin’s score, as well as its entrance and exit music, and the score perfectly complements the action on screen. The score similarly provides great transitions between scenes, and greatly enhances the overall experience. It’s quite possibly the most memorable score from this era of Disney attractions, and I frequently find myself humming it at home.

Choosing a superior score here is like trying to determine whether New York strip steak is better than filet mignon. Both are awesome in their own ways. In the case of the steaks, I usually order a strip steak because there’s more of it. Similarly, Impressions de France’s score is longer, but I think it’s also more artistically beautiful, whereas Soarin’s score is more memorable and catchy. All things considered, I’ll give Impressions de France the slight edge.

Video – My favorite scene in Soarin’ is the part where you go through the dust storm. What, you don’t remember that part? IT’S THE ENTIRE FILM.

My biggest complaint about Soarin’ is that there always seems to be dust, lint, hair, etc., on the film. This brings me back to reality and reminds me that I’m looking at a big screen, not flying through California. By contrast, Impressions de France has a stunning digital projection. A bit ironic, since Impressions de France is a 1982 EPCOT Center original, and Soarin’ is from the 2000s.

As for the substance of the videos, Impressions de France is the gold standard against which all over theme park travelogues should be judged. The impressionistic vignettes it provides of a culture and beautiful nation stick with the viewer, and the incredible detail in each scene gives the film infinite re-watchability. Different scenes resonate with the viewer depending upon their preferences and personal experiences, and each subsequent viewing might provoke a different reaction in the viewer as certain scenes ‘speak’ to them more.

Soarin’ largely follows the same formula as Impressions de France by presenting vignettes of California, but they are not as detail-rich nor are they as emotive. Additionally, while California is a beautiful state, it’s no France. Soarin’ cleverly flies guests through California, and many of the best aspects of its video take advantage of this “flight” element. The video swoops up and down, and the film helps add to the depth of Soarin’s flying experience in this regard. Like Impressions de France, there are also plenty of intriguing scenes along the way for the viewer to explore, even if the distance between the viewer and the scene means less detail than the viewer finds in Impressions de France. Ultimately, it’s this detailed immersion and intimacy of Impressions de France that elevates its video above Soarin’s.

Experience – Only a fool would argue that the packaged experience present in Impressions de France is superior to Soarin’. Impressions de France has you watch the film unfold in front of you in a theater. Soarin’ flies you into the scene with a creative hang-gliding ride system. To me, this is the critical distinction between the two attractions, and how much you value the experience will, in large part, determine where you stand in this debate.

Those who favor Soarin’ likely place a high value on the experience, and may note that it is this type of experience defines Disney theme park attractions. They’re special because they go a step further with the experience, and aren’t simple rollercoasters, flume rides, or even films. A film you can experience anywhere. Soarin’ you can only experience in a Disney theme park.  In Soarin’, you fly into the film, and it’s a full bore sensory experience with sights, sounds, and even smells. For that time while you’re experiencing the attraction, you actually are flying over California, not just watching a film about California.

This is where I differ. Personally, while I find the ride system utilized in Soarin’ to be incredibly interesting and promising, I think the execution misses the mark. As touched upon above, there’s simply too much amiss in Soarin’ for me to suspend disbelief and truly feel like I’m flying. Whether it be the dust on the screen, the lines of the screens, the edges of the screens, or the feet of people in front me, it seems like there are constant reminders that Soarin’ is, more or less, a theater with highly elevated seats, circulated air, and moving seats. I still love the attraction, but it doesn’t pass muster as a ride experience, like Star Tours. All of this leads me to discount the “experience” element of Soarin’, but not so much that I disregard it. It’s still a fun experience that is more than a film.

Impressions de France does not purport to be a ride experience. It intends to be a film experience, and it excels at that. While I do feel immersed in the details of the film, it’s admittedly not as immersive overall as Soarin’. Here, even for me, Soarin’ wins.

Wild Cards – In the “other” category, Soarin’ scores points for its excellent pre-show with Elaine’s ex, David Puddy, and its bits of dry humor. Neither attraction scores any points for its queue, post show, or anything else, as both are fairly sparse in these regards.

Soarin’ does lose a few points for its typical ridiculously long wait times. FASTPASS provides a suitable alternative to the waits, but that still requires a long wait, and also scheduling the day around a Soarin’ FASTPASS. Unlike Impressions de France, you can’t simply decide to experience Soarin’ at a random time of the day on a whim. However, this wild card is not inherent to the attraction experience itself, so it’s tough to penalize Soarin’ too much for this.

Overall, Impressions de France is my winner thanks to its victories in the audio and video columns, and only a small loss in the experience column. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, and I think that disagreement will ultimately turn on the experience aspect of the two attractions and how much others value the Soarin’ experience.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me, I’m interested in reading your opinions on this topic. I’ve presented my arguments, now let’s have yours. As with any debate, reasoned and thoughtful feedback is most persuasive! 

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Tom Bricker

Tom is an amateur Walt Disney World photographer. He recently married his princess, Sarah, to whom he became engaged at WDW on the beach of the Polynesian Resort in 2007. Tom and Sarah have a miniature dachshund named Walter E. Dogsney and a yellow cat named Yossarian the Cat. Together, Sarah and Tom run the website http://DisneyTouristBlog.com. Tom's photography can be found on his Flickr page (www.flickr.com/tombricker) and he can be contacted via Twitter (@wdwfigment) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/wdwfigment).

61 thoughts on “Impressions de France Is Better Than Soarin’

  • I have ALWAYS wondered why the film looks so terrible at Epcot and yet it seems like new at California Adventure. I just read that the film room at CA uses “clean room” technology, while Soarin’ at Epcot does not.

    This is a terrible oversight. How unfortunate.

  • This is a truly fun write up. Thanks for doing this!

    From my perspective, they are hard to compare. Kind of like comparing It’s A Small World to the Kali River Rapids. Both are in boats, but one is about the ride and one is about the content.

    I am sure that I wouldn’t go to see the Soarin’ movie very often if it were just a movie!

  • I agree…Corona sucks!!

  • thanks so much for the post. we are regulars but slowly make our way through the films and add a country each trip. haven’t made it to france’s film yet and it’s one of our favorite countries. our soon to be 9 yr old is becoming obsessed with france so we will make certain to include it this time. we’ve been all over france and miss it so i think we will enjoy it based on your assessment. i agree with your soarin comments. although we love the ride, i think we’ll make time for other things this year. great points, well made.

  • My favorite scene in Impressions is the wedding scene. You feel like you are sitting in the pew of the little rural chapel. If you look to your left, there is are a little boy and a flower girl sitting with you and giggling. I wonder how old those kids are now? Still love it. Timeless.

  • I have to say that I agree with your evaluation of the two experiences. I’ve always been a bit disappointed with Soarin’s execution. Great concept, but kind of sloppily presented.

    Impressions’ music (by a number of French classical giants) is so evocative and beautiful…. by far the best score of any Disney attraction (and that was tough for me to say, being a big fan of Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me) and Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Screaming Song)). That said, the cinematography is gorgeous and the theater is small enough and the screen large enough to make it a truly immersive experience.

    • I have a hard time putting it at #1 just because there are so many great scores. It *might* be #1, but it’s so tough to choose a single score for my top slot that I just usually list a number of scores as “one of” the best. Total cop out, I know.

  • Will definitely take a look at in 2 weeks – we were looking for something to do to replace TT anyway.

  • You lost me at your choice of the phrase “p*** water.”
    I expect quality writing, not vulgarity, from this usually-fine website and its publications.

    • Ditto. Your material is strong enough that you needn’t “work blue”.

    • I also found this choice of phrase to be distasteful. I expected higher quality from TP.

  • My beef with WDW Soarin’ is that they use the same film as DCA. We should be arriving back to FLORIDA from an AROUND the WORLD experience with a fly-over(through) of either Magic Kingdom or EPCOT fireworks. Imagine a few Impressions-type scenes from different countries. And, maybe even multiple experiences. (Different country lineups on a rotating basis) C’mon Disney, let’s not be so predictable.

    • Oops, that should be Epcot. I went a little crazy on the CAPS LOCK.

      • There have been rumors of this for a while, but nothing has materialized. While it would be cool, I think Epcot has more pressing issues.

  • I just took my daughters to Impressions last time because I remembered lots of great castles. I rode Soarin only once recently and I remember thinking as we were watching Impressions it reminded me of it. The soundtrack reminded me of some famous fantasy movie soundtrack that I couldn’t quite place.

    Almost completely off topic…Does anyone remember an eastern airlines ride, If You had Wings. Wasn’t that a movie type ride also. I can barely remember it.

    Thanks for the great article, we are going to see Impressions every time now!

  • Tom, I’m so glad you wrote this. I agree 100%. While I enjoy Soarin’, I usually only see it once per trip. As someone else said, even with a FP you’re looking at a 45 min wait. And there’s so many waits! First there’s the entrance line, then the line down the slope, then the holding pen. Then, finally!, you experience about 10 minutes of wonder. It’s a good attraction but has some flaws that don’t bother me as much as the wait (seeing feet, scratchy film, etc).

    But Impressions is wonderful. No wait, beautiful theater, few people, great score, and a fantastic film. I can still see that castle segment in my mind. AND it exits right near the french bakery!

    • “Good” to hear others reporting the same 45 minute FastPass wait. I thought maybe we just had really, really bad luck on multiple occasions.

  • I think Impressions has it beat. My dad hasn’t ever been out of the country and when he saw it, he told me it was the best attraction he’d been to in Epcot. Also, I just can’t help but imagine a ten bicycle pileup every time I see it!

  • Tom, you should be careful writing such articles that give high praise and draws attention to what is normally an over-looked attraction. It might have the adverse effect of creating an actual wait to get into the next show.

    • Ha! My statistics show that approximately 20 people read my weekly blog posts on here, so I don’t think we’re in too much danger! 😉

      • One of the “20 people” here. Thank you for this article. I am going to WDW for the first time in late September/early October and I am now putting Impressions on our Must Do List. I have experienced Soaring in DCA and would have to say that I am now wondering if I will even go while we are there if it is worse in WDW. I noticed dust and other film quality issues that were intrusions on my suspension of disbelief in DCA’s version of the ride as well.

      • Heather, you will hate the WDW queue compared to DCA. Yes, it’s all inside, unlike DCA, but you don’t really queue up. WDW’s queue is more of a funnel, wide space down to single file. And there are no cool aviation history memorabilia items in the WDW queue. There are video games set up for group participation, along with background music that I am convinced is to calm the masses; it’s almost like meditation music! If the film were different in WDW, I would encourage you to go, but unless you are looking to fill some time, I’d skip it.

  • The article and comments here are fascinating. You make a thoughtful argument and clearly have swayed most of your readers. I see both Soarin’ and Impressions de France every time and must completely disagree here. I just don’t think the minor spots in the video on Soarin’ are so bad as to interfere with the suspension of disbelief. I’m the most puzzled by your statement “Those who favor Soarin’ likely place a high value on the experience.” Well isn’t that why anyone goes to WDW in the first place? It’s ALL the experience, and especially with Soarin’. OF COURSE if you just showed us the same video without the rest of it, it wouldn’t be as great. That’s the whole point. If Impressions de France actually took us on a boat ride and let us feel the air and smell French food, it might give Soarin’ a run for its’ money, but it doesn’t. All that said, good for you; you get to do your favorite thing over and over without waits. And good for me; that’s one less person in line for Soarin’.

    • I agree that ‘experience’ is the reason most of us go to Walt Disney World in the first place. As I continue to explain in the section concerning the experience, Soarin’ loses points because I feel its experience is poorly executed. If you disagree, as it appears you do based upon your statement about suspending disbelief, that’s great. But you’re mischaracterizing what I wrote if you think I’m arbitrarily dismissive of the Soarin’ experience. I’m well aware of what the experience intends to be, and I think that if it were better-executed, it would be a much more impressive attraction thanks to that experience.

      Despite that, Soarin’ remains one of my favorite attractions at Epcot, because I enjoy the whole package. Its audio and video are great, even if (I feel) the experience falls a bit flat.

      • Fair enough! I guess it comes down to how much the individual is subjectively bothered by the flaws in Soarin’. I will always greatly enjoy Impressions de France (if I could afford to live anywhere, I would move to Paris). However, the film will never rise to the level of the bliss of Soarin’ for me. It’s kind of like having a favorite restaurant and overlooking something bad in the service or the meal because you have grown to love it so much overall.

  • I guess I’m in the minority here. I never miss Impressions de France and have never seen Soarin’. I can’t handle IMAX-type movies due to motion sickness problems (I even have to look away during some of the flying scenes in Impressions de France), so there’s no way I’m trying a big-screen flying movie in a seat that moves.

    • I know this is an old post/comment, and you probably won’t see this, but maybe someone will. I get motion sickness from Impressions de France, but not from Soarin. I have the same issue with virtual reality glasses so I googled it. It has to do with the vision of moving not matching up with what is actually happening to the body. With Soarin, they match the movement of the ride to the visuals so there is no mismatch going on to cause the motion sickness.

  • Great write up, and quite convincing too. From a technical stand-point, I think you have something here. Yes, the dust and dirt that accumulates on the film for Soarin’ is distracting, especially for those tech-types like you and me. This is just bad show, and I really wish they would make an effort to try and do a better job of keeping it clean.

    I have seen Impressions a couple of times and always enjoyed it. The visuals are impressively stunning and make me want to travel there. I should add that since the film went digital it’s even better, and as you point out, the audio/music certainly adds to the experience.

    Overall, I might still give a slight edge to Soarin’ just for the unique experience that’s achieved in the feeling of “flying” which increases the repeatability factor. In the end I have to ask myself which one would I be willing to wait in line for more than an hour to ride, and the answer always comes back with Soarin’. Perhaps if they had pastries in the queue, or maybe even in the film at Impressions, I might change my mind. Maybe in the re-build for the bakery they could add a pipe from there leading directly into the theater to lure guests in.

    • You had me up until the ‘hour in line’ hypothetical. You’d never have to wait in line that long for Impressions de France, so that’s a bit arbitrary.

      I still get your point, and if I had to wait realistic wait times for each attraction (30 minutes in the FastPass return for Soarin’ and 10 for the next show to start at Impressions), I’d choose Impressions.

  • The reason there’s so much dirt floating around the film is because Disney didn’t install the same “clean room” for the projector in WDW like they did in California. The reason it’s still film and not digital projection is because IMAX film is of a superior resolution to anything digital projection currently offers.

    Impressions is indeed a gorgeous film in every way. Never get tired of it!

    • I’ve heard that about the clean room. The difference in quality between the coasts is always surprising to me.

      Interesting point on the IMAX resolution; the incredibly high resolution of film is something that people frequently forget. I see this all the time in conversations regarding bringing older films to Blu-ray. People say, “what’s the point, it was shot before high def.” What they fail to grasp is that older film isn’t the limitation, it’s the media used to bring the film transfer to the viewer.

      I do think Soarin’s projection is a bit soft, but, like you point out, this isn’t because it’s on film.

      • Tom,

        Exactly right. I’ve had to tell several people the same thing. 35mm film (and above) is still superior to any HD video format. HD is half the resolution of 35mm.

  • Interesting comparison. It has been years since I’ve seen Impressions, but I think more of the World Showcase shows need to make their way into my touring plan for my next visit.

    I always make plans to get multiple rides on Soarin’ because I feel like it should be an incredible experience based on the impressive technology that has gone into it. I always end up riding once and then just moving on though once I do it. The video quality and the length of the wait just kill the re-rideablility IMO.

  • “Elaine’s ex, David Puddy”

    ITYM Brock Sampson, the Swedish Murder Machine.

  • I must agree with this review completely. Impressions de France has been my #1 attraction in EPCOT since our first visit in 1984. I only need to hear a few bars of any of the pieces included in the score, and I am instantly transported to France. (For those who want to know what the pieces of music are, there is a sheet available at the exit with a list of the music and composers quoted in the film). I wish they would clean up the video, however, as it is showing the wear of 28 years!

    I do love Soarin’ also, (the theme is my ring tone!), and never would have thought to compare them in this way. However, if I was only able to take in one attraction at EPCOT, it would be Impressions de France without a doubt.

  • I’m a Disney regular, and have never seen Impressions… if you’re taking a poll 😉 So thank you for this review. I’m adding it to my December touring plan!

  • You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the movie in France. I will have to make sure I see it in October. As for Soarin’ – I hate the WDW queue. I wish it was like the DCA one, decorations and all. Much better themeing. I totally agree about the quality of the film, but I can’t say if it was better at DCA or not. I didn’t pay too close of attention to that detail. I do love Soarin’, but I won’t stand in long lines to ride it – under 30 minute stand-by or FP only!

  • We were just there last week. My wife noted to me that Soarin’ had a black smudge that was distracting her…of course, a chunk of dirt was caught somewhere in the projector. I couldn’t take my eyes off it from that point forward. I agree 100% with your assessment. I ALWAYS have to watch the France movie, each trip, regardless of how much my kids whine at me! I love it!

  • Great article, Tom! I hadn’t seen Impressions de France until my recent trip last week. It immediately shot to the top of my list of Epcot movies. For me, I give the Soarin’ music the edge because it seems more “grand” and “majestic”, which really compliments the feel the ride system gives you. Yes, the Soarin’ video quality sucks, but I quickly get past that from the powerful music and flight feeling. Kudos for highlighting the qualities of Impressions that most people probably don’t give it credit for.

    • Interesting feedback on the Soarin’ score. I think majestic (I can visualize an eagle gliding through the air right now as I type this) is a very good way to describe the Soarin’ score.

  • I think what sets Impressions apart (and I saw it for the first time 3 or 4 years ago) is the score. I immediately had to look up the classical pieces that were used and found “Aquarium” on Carnival of the Animals, which is one of my favorite now to listen to (it’s been used in Curious Case of Benjamin Button, theme from Beauty and the Beast based on it, etc.). I’ll have to do both next time on the same day to make a true comparison, but well done on the write up!

  • I always ride Soarin’ and I always see Impressions de France. However, I never thought to compare them to one another. The dirty lens is annoying in Soarin’. Impressions, though excellent, needs and update. That said, if I know someone is going to Epcot who has not experienced either, I have to put Soarin’ first on the touring plan. What’s popular isn’t always the mark of excellence, as you said, but in this case you still need to see Soarin’ first. Good article Tom!

    • I would advise them to experience Soarin’, too, if only for the novelty of the attraction and because I think Soarin’ has more mainstream appeal than Impressions.

      That said, if I met someone who had never tasted beer before, I’d recommend something like Corona (yuck!) over Founders KBC, and the latter is far, far superior.

      Just because something is superior (for me) doesn’t mean that it will be well received by all audiences. This partly explains the differences in popularity between the two attractions.

  • I just saw Impressions for the first time in January, after years and years of Disney trips, and I was stunned at how fantastic it was! Why did I waste all those earlier trips by not seeing it??!! It’s definitely a headliner in my book.

  • I don’t disagree, though I haven’t watched the France film in years. I did Soarin’ last year for the first (and only) time. Even with Fast Pass, it took 45 minutes. I was in the front row, so I wasn’t bothered by hanging feet. But the film quality was atrocious. As soon as Test Track is done, they need to take Soarin’ offline and repair it. There is absolutely no way I’d waste another 45 minutes on it in its current state. I’m now excited to visit Impressions de France again, though.

  • Okay…I’ll reserve judgement and criticism/hate-mail until after I experience Impressions again (I honestly haven’t seen it since 2001). Good write-up, Tom!

    • This might be what saws me from tons of hostile responses. “I think he’s totally wrong, but I’ve never seen Impressions de France, so I guess I won’t comment.”

      I wonder how many Disney regulars have never seen Impressions de France. I’ll bet the number is high.

      • Well, embarrassingly, you can count me in that number. It seems that, when we are in Epcot, we are always running to the next “classic” attraction or food experience. In other words, there is so much to do in the limited time we ever have at Epcot, we just haven’t taken the time to experience it.

        Thanks to you, we will put this on our list for October (we are planning a day at Epcot with a 1.3 crowd level!) and will give it a chance. I love Soarin’ (I’m humming it right now…thanks for the Songatage), but maybe I will enjoy this film more without those pesky hanging feet in my face.

        Great job, Tom.

      • I’ve seen them both, and I think you’re totally wrong. But, that’s just one man’s opinion. Impressions is good, and my favorite of the WS films, but it’s no Soarin’.

        I may be grading on a curve a bit, because I’m not necessarily comparing to Dust Bowl Soarin’, but Soarin’-through-the-years. Without the dust on the film, your argument falls apart I think.

      • If you artificially constrain a lot of arguments, they fall apart. I don’t think this one does for the reasons I’ve clearly articulated in my post (Impressions can still go toe-to-toe with Soarin’ substantively, and because there are other, albeit less-significant aspects of Soarin’ that jolt the viewer ‘back to reality’), but I would be interested in reading a reasoned explanation as to why you disagree.

        In any case, there is dust on the film. 😉

      • So, just so I understand, you also would place Impressions above Left Coast Soarin’? If so, I’m afraid I just simply disagree with your evaluation, and so you will not find my arguments convincing. I find Soarin’ to be much less “back to reality” than you do (again, absent the dust, which I suppose is too charitable of me.) The feet or edges don’t distract me nearly as much as they seem to distract you, and I suppose my eyesight is too poor to pick out most of the screen dots/lines except during the monochromatic cloud scenes.

        In short, I am heavy on “experience”, and the experience works for me in ways it does not for you. What’s more, a big part of how I personally value an attraction is “uniqueness”. Is this something I can’t do anywhere else? Impressions is a beautiful film, with a wonderful score, but there are a lot of beautiful films with wonderful scores in the world, and most of them do not require Epcot admission to see. For example, is Impressions more moving than sections of Ken Burns’ excellent National Parks series? Maybe, maybe not.

        On the other hand, Soarin’, despite being more than ten years old now (and despite the jump-cuts that you didn’t even mention as a “hey, this is just a ride” moment, but probably should have) is still something that other operators just can’t quite catch up to. Forbidden Journey’s video screens come close, and its ride system is even more immersive than Soarin’s, but the FJ video sequences do not strike me as “real” as Soarin’s film does, and so I have the same “back to reality” moments on FJ that you have on Soarin’. Other contenders—BGW’s Europe in the Air, which opened just a couple years ago—are pale imitations that don’t even come close.

        At the end of the day, my preferences are clear from my touring choices. It is very very rare that I have a Future World morning and don’t ride Soarin’; I can probably count such days on a few fingers, tops. On the other hand, on a World Showcase afternoon/evening, I’m much more likely to see a second (or third) Off Kilter show than to see Impressions.

      • I would have a much more difficult time placing Impressions de France above DCA’s Soarin’, mostly because of its queue (I love all of Condor Flats) and because the projection was much cleaner when I was there. There, Soarin’ would probably have the edge.

        Either way, I think you make some excellent points, and you’re right that it is a question of how much weight we give to the experience side of Soarin’ as it presently stands. Your points about being able to compare Impressions de France to other films, something I also acknowledged in the post itself, are well taken, and the fact that Soarin’ is ‘something more’ definitely works to its advantage. I wish Impressions de France had a similar hook to distinguish itself from regular films, but even as it stands, I think it’s a spectacular presentation that cannot be substantially replicated by watching a documentary on Netflix in my home.

        However, I can see how others would disagree, and I realize that for many people, the enhanced experience of Soarin’ is what “makes” the attraction. If the experience were firing on all cylinders, I’d likely agree with those people. Given your comparisons, perhaps my expectations (in some regards) are a bit unrealistic.

        You have piqued my curiosity about BGW’s “Europe in the Air.” (even if your comments aren’t favorable towards it!) I’ve been hearing a lot about BGW recently, and am strongly considering a “fall colors” visit. I haven’t been there since I was a kid.

      • Europe in the Air isn’t terrible; it has its moments, and is worth seeing, but I wouldn’t get in a long line for it.

        Overall, we really enjoyed our Williamsburg vacation, including several visits to BGW, Water Country USA, and Colonial Williamsburg. WCUSA is one of the better water parks I’ve ever visited. BGW is beautiful, uses it’s natural setting very well, and has a surprisingly solid set of coasters. Griffon in particular is interesting, though if you’ve done ShieKra at BGT, it is more or less the same ride. The kids did not enjoy CW as much as I did, but if you get a chance to book a carriage ride there, do so. The carriages are all restorations of period pieces, and are very cool.

      • We have never stopped to watch it!!! It seems that Impressions de France does not worth our precious Disney time :-/

        I was tempted last year but my husband said bleh! but definitely will see it next time (27 days :D)

        Great article Tom, thanks 🙂

  • “Soarin’ Through Dust Storms.” I like it!

    • I have heard that the next update to Soarin’ will take on the Joads’ journey as they voyage to escape the Dust Bowl and move to California. Rumor has it that no updates to the film projection technology will be made! 😉

      • Sacre Bleu! At first I thought “what heresy!” when I read the title of this blog, but I have to agree with your “statistics” in the three areas of comparison. If one received a glass of wine upon entering the theatre for Impressions (or the smell of freshly made crepes was piped in) the points in the experience category would be raised significantly.

        Another great article……and when I read this follow up comment, I laughed out loud!

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