When Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks developed the first Circle-Vision camera rig, they knew they were creating history. For the first time, audiences would be exposed to a story that completely surrounded them. Disney parks are known for their immersion, but this technology took the form to a new level. Now audiences could experience America, China, Canada, and so many other locations as if they were really there.
Of course, when Epcot was in development, the Imagineers wanted to use this technology in new ways. The Canada and China pavilions had 360-degree films right from the start. The France pavilion’s movie did not fully embrace the technology, but three giant screens created an expansive view. More than just a place to get out of the hot sun, these films became treasured parts of guests’ Epcot experiences.
A few months ago, during a particularly muggy trip, I took the time to duck into all of Epcot’s indoor features. I have seen them all before, but I doubt I ever went to all of them in the same day. I only vaguely remember the original, somewhat controversial feature in Canada. Seriously, though. Take a look at Yesterland’s great coverage on the original feature and why it was reworked with Martin Short. The second generation of “O’ Canada!” was pretty great and I am a little sad to see it go.
“Impressions de France” is a more recent addition to my Epcot experience. Somehow, I never managed to see it until just a couple of years ago. I love that the film focused on particular aspects of the French culture like winemaking and skiing that can remain fresh even thirty years later. Well, other than the neon ski suits we left behind so very long ago....
“Reflections of China“ was great fun to watch again. I love that our guide on this journey is an ancient Chinese poet, Li Bai. It’s a great and immersive film showing parts of China that most of us couldn’t see in the Eighties and some that we still can’t access. So much has changed in China over these last few decades that the film does warrant an update. Good thing Disney has made some significant deals with the country.
Disney announced big changes at last year’s D23 expo. By now, you probably know I am super excited about these changes. Just Check out our coverage of the expo itself and my recent piece on the Epcot Experience at the Odyssey. Some of those changes to Epcot are already happening! This weekend marked the opening of the new film ”Canada Far and Wide” and a Beauty and the Beast singalong experience.
“Canada Far and Wide“ creates a new film experience with the familiar Circle-Vision technology. I really like the work Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy have done together in Christopher Guest’s movies (Anybody else a fan of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind?) so I look forward to their narration in the new film. The Beauty and the Beast sing-along feature also opened this weekend with narration by Angela Lansbury. Thankfully, ”Impressions de France” is running in an alternating schedule with this movie, placating fans of this classic. The France pavilion added an exhibit on French costumes, music, and art. It looks like an amazing way to get a conversation started around French contributions to modern cinema.
Whether you look at the films of World Showcase as a great way to get out of the heat or a major attraction themselves, they are definitely worth a look on your next trip. We also know to expect an update to China’s film this year. Why not treat yourself and hit up all the indoor attractions while you feast your way around the world? Let our ConciEARS specialists arrange your dining reservations and plan the rest of your circle tour! You won’t regret it.
See ya real soon!