IllumiNations: A Tribute

IllumiNations: A Tribute

Welcome to our tribute to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Be sure to check out our podcast here on Podbean and here at iTunes. You can also type in Disney at Work & Play Podcast on Spotify. We also have an accompanying post on

A Legacy of Nighttime Magic

There have been many versions of IllumiNations over the years, though Illuminations: Reflections of Earth has had the longest run of any show. Previous shows carried different titles:

Carnival de Lumiere. Premiered October 23, 1982. Guests gathered between the Mexican and Canadian pavilions to see the fountain/fireworks barges. It incorporated rear projection screens.

A New World Fantasy. It opened the summer of 83 utilizing the same barges as the first show, but adding classical music played on a synthesizer.

Laserphonic Fantasy. This moved the show to around the lagoon, and returned to having a full orchestra record the music. Most importantly, it introduced laser effects. It opened on June 9th, of 1984.

IllumiNations. This opened on January 30th of 1988 and played until September 20th, 1996. This was the original Illuminations. Ode to Joy, Rhapsody in Blue and the William Tell Overture were just a few of the more familiar pieces. Special projections would create different images on building such as a candy land look on Germany.

IllumiNations 25. In keeping with Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary, a new version of IllumiNations was played out from September 21st, 1996 through May 18th, 1997. The “Remember the Magic” started off the show, with “Circle of Life” providing the finale. Guests complained about this show, and eventually Lion King music went out, and international melodies came back in.

There have also been many holiday and special event productions as well.

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

Also known originally as Illuminations 2000: Reflections of Earth, this show officially opened October 1st, 1999, closing on September 30, 2019. The show has three acts:

Act 1: Chaos. This represents the creation of the earth.

Act II: Order. This marks the movement of the Earth Globe toward the center of the lagoon. It also marks man’s adventure on earth, as well as his cultivation of the arts and sciences.

Act III: Meaning. This is where the song, “We Go On” is played. Torches are lit, and the center Earth Globe opens up to reveal its flames. It’s about coming together and becoming one.

You can see all of this play out in the following video:

Little Known Facts:

Did you know:

FAA requires that anyone using lasers notify them for advance permission. As a result, MCO, or Orlando International Airport is contacted by “Mexico Control” the show operates from at the top of the Mexican pyramid). Cast Members have usually been required to watch for surrounding aircraft in the area to make sure lasers were not accidentally pointed to them.

There are 19 torches that surround World Showcase Lagoon. The 20th torch, represents the 20th century. It’s also known as the Unity Torch and it is the center of the Globe when it blossoms at the end of the show. Recall, that fire is mentioned by the narrator as the unifying element that brings people together.

The narrator of Epcot’s Illuminations is Jim Cummings. He is the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and even Hondo Ohnaka in the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

Walter Cronkite was the narrator of the Holiday IllumiNations show.

Epcot Forever

The next chapter for Epcot’s nighttime spectaculars is actually a fall back to Epcot’s legacy of music. You can see a glimpse of this in the following video:

Again, be sure to visit where you’ll see our reflections on Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. The song, We Go On is an anthem to dealing with change, and we address perspectives on that in our DAW post.

J. Jeff Kober

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