Continuing our review of the three new films debuting at Epcot today we find ourselves in the France Pavilion and the new Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along show. The show doesn’t completely replace Impressions de France, but if you want to see the Epcot classic you’ll be limited to just 3 or 4 showings at the end of the day. Cast Members we spoke with said that they will be adjusting the amount of showings based on guest demand and reception to the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along.
There was strictly no filming was allowed of the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, but we can describe what we think is an addition that greatly missed the mark. The film opens up with Mrs. Potts explaining that the Beauty and the Beast story that you know (and love) is not the real story. The seemingly happenstance meeting of Belle and the Beast was actually orchestrated by LeFou, and the film shows some of the actions LeFou took to bring them together. From leading Maurice to the castle to helping prepare the dinner that Belle and Beast enjoyed together, LeFou was the mastermind behind all of it. While the chance to sing-along to a handful of the classic songs will likely be enjoyed by many, the story doesn’t feel right. It feels very shoehorned, including introducing some plot holes in the original, animated classic for the sake of this new film such as placing LeFou in two places at once during the Castle siege scene.
Disney adding two wonderful films to The Land and the Canada Pavilion while introducing this to the France Pavilion is a bit of a head scratcher. The other films showed that they knew what they should do, but they really failed to give France a country-showcase film that it deserves. Instead, Disney decided to add a sing-along that feels like more of a direct-to-video film than a smart addition to a theme park. While we can say that the film wasn’t our favorite, there will likely be big crowds simply because of the Beauty and the Beast IP, and that will likely be seen as a win for a theater that wasn’t always packed.
A silver lining is that Impressions de France will operate in the last hour or two of the posted park hours, and that the film will return in 4K later tonight.
As part of the new Beauty and the Beast film, Disney has installed a new Tales as Old as Time display that showcases various French art forms and props. The displays are quite wonderful and help pass the time between shows while educating about theater, film, opera, and more as it relates to the French culture. While the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along misses the mark of what Epcot is, the displays here are wonderful and a natural extension of the existing pavilion.