We knew the news was coming and yesterday it was finally announced. Epcot’s long running nighttime spectacular, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is coming to an end. Illuminations will be ending in the second half of 2019, according to this official post, and will be immediately followed up by a new show.
That Illuminations: Reflections of Earth isn’t closing for nearly a full calendar year can be seen a few different ways. One, Disney’s new show isn’t ready hence the long goodbye. Maybe the new show costs more money so they are holding off on costs for a while longer. Lastly, it’s possible that they just want to give guests a chance to say goodbye. Ultimately, I think it’s probably a mix of all three but I’m happy that Illuminations is going out like this.
Illuminations is my favorite nighttime spectacular at Disney World. The central idea of the show, that we are all connected through cultures, working together for the greater good is a classic one that stands the test of time. Along with Illuminations abstract nature, this has carried the show even if it twenty years old.
Typically, I would rather nighttime spectaculars to last a decade at most. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth could have lasted for another twenty years and I never would have complained. The show was a vestige of what Epcot means to me, a beautiful way to celebrate our world in a hopeful manner. The fireworks are still impressive and great. The lights have faded and been refurbished but still lack punch relative to other Disney projects. But, when that globe floats out to the middle of the lagoon followed by the pavilions lighting up in an energetic gallop I feel something that Disney’s other spectaculars don’t make me feel.
Don’t get me wrong, I love firework shows . Happily Ever After and Remember… Dreams Come True, are shows that I love, ranking among my favorites. Most of these shows rely heavily on nostalgia. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with that and the synchronization of the music and fireworks are incredible in their own right. Happily Ever After plays Can You Feel the Love Tonight and I’m brought back to seeing Lion King in the theater, all while my sense are overloaded with beautiful music and amazing sights. Happily Ever After doesn’t rest on its laurels, the show has a semblance of a plot and incredible pace as well as using incredible technology. The same can be said for Remember… Dreams Come True except that nighttime spectacular focuses on the parks, which makes it more meaningful to me. Both of these shows are beautiful and full of joy, truly making it feel like you’re in the happiest place on earth.
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth brings joy but also is hopeful, a show that leaves me thinking past that night and well into the following days. Rather than be nostalgic and distinctly Disney, Epcot’s nighttime spectacular is inspiring and maybe my first instance in realizing that these parks are a form of art. Instead of direct, Illuminations is abstract. Instead of a regular Disney show, Illuminations is different.
As I mentioned, I love fireworks. Epcot’s nighttime spectacular has some good ones, exploding right above guest’s eyes. Illuminations has a quiet middle though and that’s what it elevates the show. With video clips of people and places from all over the globe the tone shifts and the soundtrack matches. As the finale comes, “We are one!” is rings out from the World Showcase speakers. Illuminations isn’t there to give guests a buzz for 15 minutes, although it surely does. Instead Illuminations is there to inspire, to teach that we should go out and make the world better by working together.
I hope the new show will follow in Epcot’s footsteps. I would love to see a show that doesn’t go over the top with Disney synergy but instead is original and similarly abstract. I’d also love to see the technology updated while still keeping the idea of World Showcase behind it.
I’ll save my final goodbye for Illuminations for next summer. I love that Disney announced the closing of the show well in advance. For years I’ve worried that they would close it a month after the announcement and I would miss out on a chance to say goodbye to a show that’s so meaningful to me. I appreciate that they gave fans plenty of time to say goodbye and I will be doing that many times over the next year. My feelings on the new show are exactly the same as how Illuminations always leaves me – hopeful.
What do you think of the Epcot nighttime spectacular news? Let us know in the comments. Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our social media pages. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Have a great day!