Luminous Premieres & World Celebration Opens at Epcot

Luminous Premieres & World Celebration Opens at Epcot

Finally! After what has been years of waiting, the center piece of what was formerly Future World is reopening as World Celebration in Epcot. We cover the opening day and what this central promenade looks like during the day time and night. It’s like a brand new hub–only for Epcot and not Magic Kingdom. We also take the opportunity to see the premiere of Luminous on its first night as a replacement to Harmonious. This is a pivotal day for Epcot, the culmination of some 25 additional attractions and offerings made in Epcot within the last 5 years, and perhaps the most central moment tied to Disney’s 100 celebration here at Walt Disney World. So we’re bringing you the wonder and discovery of it all. It’s where the impossible becomes possible. And it’s opening on the 122nd birthday of Walt Disney. Join us for the premiere of Luminous and the opening of World Celebration at Epcot.

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Below are images and an outline of this week’s podcast:

Review of Epcot’s Transformation

Let’s consider all that has taken place since 2019 at Epcot:

  • New Parking Lot
  • New Entrance
  • New Connections Cafe
  • New Starbucks
  • New Pin Traders Location
  • New World of Disney
  • New Club Cool
  • New Creations Shop
  • New Character Meet ‘n’ Greets
  • Beauty & The Beast Sing Along
  • Canada Far & Wide
  • Awesome Planet
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • La Crêperie de Paris
  • Space 220 Restaurant
  • Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya
  • Takumi Tei
  • La Gelateria Toscana
  • Renovated Odyssey Restaurant in Epcot
  • New Figment Meet ‘n’ Greet
  • Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana
  • Modifications & Additions to Soarin’ and Living with the Land
  • Three New Fireworks Shows
  • Skyliner

What Didn’t Happen

  • Mary Poppins
  • Play Pavilion
  • Wondrous China
  • New Version of Spaceship Earth
  • Festival Center w/ Garden Rooftop

World Celebration

Map by Disney
  • Entryway with Original Sculpture & Fountain
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Dreamer’s Point
  • Tree Sculptures Similar to Gardens by the Bay
  • Story Fountain
  • CommuniCore
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment

What are the World Celebration Gardens?

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • It’s a passageway and hub–Plenty of pathway to get in and around.
  • It’s an homage to Epcot and Walt Disney
  • It is a series of six distinct neighborhoods or districts
    • Dreamer’s Point–Walt Disney Statue
    • Connections Cafe Outdoor Dining–Lots of Seating Style Choices
    • Kiosk or Biergarten to Be–Characters Currently Doing Meet ‘n’ Greets
    • CommuniCore Outdoor Dining
    • Tree Sculptures–Uncertain–Kind of Like the Singapore Super Grove Garden
    • Centerpiece Hub Planter–No Fountain, But Nighttime Lighting
  • It’s a social gathering
  • It is a park–as in Theme Park
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Review of World Celebration Gardens

  • As a hub it exceeds all the other park hubs–It is truly a park
  • This exceeds what was there before–both in the original and 2000 makeover
  • Has an altering, layered terrain while still being mobile friendly
  • Lots of trees and shade–Similar to a Garden of Eden/Oasis Design
  • Lots of seating area
  • There was kinetic element–Could stand to have the mobile sculptures from Disneyland Paris
  • There was no Festival Aspect to this–Perhaps in the Future
  • CommuniCore and CommuniCore Plaza looks promising–opens up and links to Journey to Imagination–which could be the other book end
  • There are some 12,000 programmable LED features–This makes nighttime more than an exit out of the park–Nighttime is different than daytime
  • Why did it take 4 years to do this? Blame the Festival Center
  • Why is there no fountain show? Blame the Festival Center
  • Why no Festival Center?
    • Covid
    • Budget
    • Distance From Lagoon
    • Foundation/Sink Hole Issues
  • It was embraced by guests
  • It is a great homage to Walt and to the original ideas around Epcot
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

What’s Next of Epcot

  • CommuniCore
  • A New Test Track
Image by Disney


Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There were a lot of people who showed up to this:

This show made nods to other previous shows

  • Illuminations: Greetings From Around World Showcase
  • Illuminations 25: Circle of Life Notion & First Use of Disney Music
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
  • Harmonious: Series of Major Barges and voices singing in different languages

Emphasis on Barges being removed, and that everyone has an “equal” view–No Stargate

This show is about birth, play, love, loss and hope. These are all Disney themes. In my wife’s words, they could be a trigger for some.

The show is so encompassing

“This will be a whole thing, ‘Ooo, why aren’t there projections in the show?,’” Davison predicted. “On purpose. Because by putting projection in the show, we’re telling you what to see. By not putting it there, by using color and light and texture and sound, we’re letting you paint your own journey in your mind.”

In place of projections or LED screens you have probably the most sophisticated arrangement of light, water, music, laser and fireworks.

I was concerned that the music would be too much like other fireworks shows. It really isn’t, and the different languages singing made it stand out as well.

My son was exuberant. My wife was moved. I would have liked the LED screens but with real people like in Reflections of earth and not Disney animated films. People stayed around afterwards just talking about it and enjoying their time–despite the colder weather. Post show had a nod to Figment and Journey to Imagination, but was short as a post show.

Didn’t see souvenir material that morning, but people where wearing jackets that evening.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


All in all, this feels not just like a completed Epcot, but perhaps a better Epcot than ever before. The ideal Epcot in my mind was around 2000 which had

  • Horizons
  • Wonders of Life
  • Better Journey Into Imagination

Today’s Epcot has

  • Soarin’
  • Guardians of the Galaxy–Cosmic Rewind
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • Improved Attractions like Seas with Finding Nemo. Gran Fiesta Tour and Frozen Ever After
  • Bigger Slate of Festival Experiences
  • More and Better Dining Choices
  • New Test Track on its Way
  • Better Park Hub and Fireworks
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A Century of Powerful Disney Insights Book

You can order my newest book, “A Century of Powerful Disney Insights” on Amazon. It’s a great way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company. In over 100 years, The Walt Disney Company has emerged as one of the most successful entertainment entities across the globe. In this, the first of two volumes, we study the first 50 years of Disney, beginning with Walt and Roy. We look at major milestones and not only see the evolution of an organization begun in a garage, but how it truly became so beloved to millions around the world. From Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse through Snow White and Cinderella, from the Mouseketeers to Mary Poppins, and from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, we share stories and insights from 1923 to 1973. We hope you’ll be inspired with ideas and how you can apply these stories to your own life and work. 

Order your copy today!

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J. Jeff Kober

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