At the end of September, Walt Disney World retired IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth to make way for new entertainment and attractions that are arriving at Epcot in the coming years. Today, we’re taking a fond look back at IllumiNations and looking forward to the park’s future with full videos of Epcot Forever and the new Epcot Experience exhibit.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth Final Show
Monday, September 30, 2019, saw the last-ever performance of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Walt Disney World. The popular nighttime spectacular, which featured a flame-spewing “inferno barge” and large LED-covered floating globe, was a day-ending fixture at Epcot for more than 20 years.
Guests began lining up around World Showcase lagoon’s shoreline hours before the final performance, and all the prime viewing spots for the last show were snatched up long before it started.
Luckily, thanks to our friends at Attractions Magazine and MEI Travel, we were able to attend a private viewing party in the Italy pavilion, which allowed us to record this full POV video of the final IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth performance:
As an added bonus, the viewing was also attended by Mark Nichols, who was the original show producer of IllumiNations.
For some of his insights into what made the show so beloved for more than two decades, read this interview in the Orlando Weekly.
Wasting no time, Disney launched a new pyrotechnic nightcap only 24 hours after IllumiNations was extinguished. Despite its permanent-sounding name, Epcot Forever will only run for one year, as a temporary stopgap until HarmonioUS debuts in 2020.
The 11-minute short-term show fuses fireworks with kites towed by Jet Skis, all set to vintage EPCOT Center music. Classic 1980s tunes like “Tomorrow’s Child” and “Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit” are heard in the park again for what might be the final time, sung in new arrangements that include a children’s choir.
The finale of Epcot Forever features “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, which serves as a heart-warming preview (or terrifying portent, depending on your perspective) of the coming integration of character-driven intellectual properties across Epcot’s edutainment attractions.
While Epcot Forever is certainly better than having no fireworks at the park for a year—and we share a nostalgic attachment to the extinct rides referenced in the score—we don’t feel it is nearly as visually impressive or emotionally engaging as its predecessor. Watch a full video of the show, as seen from the France pavilion, and judge for yourself:
The Epcot Experience at Odyssey Pavilion
Epcot Forever is only the first of many major updates coming to the park over the next few years. Many of these coming attractions were earlier unveiled at the D23 Convention and the Disney Parks Blog, but a new Future World exhibit gives guests their first opportunity to get a taste of the changes in person through a dramatic presentation.
Walt Disney Imagineering presents The Epcot Experience at the Odyssey Pavilion uses a 360-degree wrap-around video screen and and projection mapping to bring a stylized model of Epcot to life with digital animations illustrating the upcoming attractions. The 12-minute continuous presentation touches on the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster and trackless Ratatouille rides currently under construction, as well as Moana and Mary Poppins-inspired interactive experiences that are on their way.
Watch the complete Epcot Experience presentation here, and get excited about the great big, beautiful tomorrow coming to Walt Disney World:
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