Looking Back at Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Since I first saw this show in 2000, during the Millennium Celebrations after IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth debuted the year before I have always loved it.

Depicting the creation of Earth and journeying through man-kind to the present day, the show pushed technology to its limits by combining perfectly timed firework blasts with music, water fountains, fire blasts, lasers, 1,000’s of lights and a huge floating globe filled with 100’s of fireworks.

Full Show Video from October 2018

For 20 years this show has wowed guests to EPCOT every night, with no notable changes to the show (except special endings included on special occasions like 4th July and Christmas) is testament to just how good this show is, and how far ahead of its time it was.

Each day around 2pm all the barges which contain all the show elements and pyrotechnics are floated out from a backstage area to the centre of World Showcase Lagoon into position for the show that evening. From the time this process is completed until showtime there is a constant stream of small speedboats covering the lagoon dropping off the pyrotechnic team and finalise everything for the show.

View across World Showcase Lagoon with Pyro Barges arranged across the lake.

In 2007 I was lucky enough to see area backstage where the barges for the show are prepared daily, on the Undiscovered Future World Tour, which was a great experience being right up beside the Earth Globe – it is literally huge. At the finale of the show the Globe opens up like a lotus flower with flames and fireworks shooting from out middle.

For me just being able to sit around World Showcase Lagoon, relax and catch the show with a drink in hand was something you couldn’t do at any other park and it still is one of my favourite things to do while in Orlando – after a long day walking around the world, its nice to take some weight of and relax.

Last September Disney made the announcement that the show would be replaced in Summer 2019 with an all new show, which will begin on 1st October 2019, with the announcement being made just a few days before our trip we decided to rearrange things and spend an extra night at Epcot to see the show one last time.

Who knows what this new show will include, but likely it will be a move away from a show without no Disney IP included to one featuring characters from throughout the Disney Empire, in line with the goal of creating Epcot more family friendly. A move I understand, but it feels like with the end of IllumiNations, along with the other changes underway at the park that the original meaning of Epcot is now completely gone – after many years of having no identity. Hopefully now the park will be more cohesive and feel more complete, than it has since the turn of the Millennium.


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