5 Facts About Illuminations: Reflections of Earth You Probably Don’t Know

“Good evening.  On behalf of Walt Disney World, the place where dreams come true, we welcome all of you to Epcot and World Showcase.  We’re gathered here tonight around the fire as people of all lands have gathered for thousands and thousands of years before us… to share the light… and to share a story.”

After 20 years we will be saying goodbye to one of the best Disney shows that has become a tradition and a highlight for many guests visiting Epcot.  Illuminations will be ending on Monday, September 30th with a new show called Epcot Forever premiering the next night on Tuesday, October 1st.  This new show is part of Epcot’s plan to include new experiences in the park, like the “Guardians of the Galaxy” roller coaster, a “Ratatouille” attraction in World Showcase and a new table-service space themed restaurant next to Mission: SPACE.  Since October 1999 millions of guests have watched Illuminations around World Showcase Lagoon and marveled at the music, fireworks, fire, lasers and more.  Here are some things about the show you might not know before we say goodbye.

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Eric Tucker, an award winning pyrotechnics designer, was brought on board by Disney to design this show.  His job was to design new fireworks effects that had never been produced before.  Eric and other Reflections of Earth creators traveled to China to meet with top fireworks manufacturers to create these new effects.  Disney Imagineers also developed a new way to launch these fireworks using compressed air.  That allowed for the fireworks to be timed perfectly to the music.  It also hides the trail of the igniting fireworks shell that is being launched.  Each night 1,105 fireworks shells are launched for each show and are launched from 750 mortar tubes and 56 firing modules at 34 different locations around the lagoon. 

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The globe that is the center attraction for the show is 3 stories tall.  Looking at it you don’t realize how tall it is but when you think about it the globe has to be big enough for thousands of guests to see the imagines it projects.  It weighs 350,000 pounds and was the world’s first spherical video display system.  About 300 images appear on this display system during the show.  The globe is also wrapped in 15,000 LEDs. 


The inferno barge is a 150,000 pound barge that is capable of sending balls of fire 40 to 60 feet in the air.  It burns through 400 gallons of propane every night.  If you are lucky enough to have extra magic hours and still be in the park at 10:30pm you may get to see the final burn off.  This is done to empty the propane tanks with whatever propane is left over after the show.  This is probably part of the significant cost of the show.  It is rumored that the show costs around $25,000 per night.  That’s $9,125,000 in fireworks and effects each year. 



There is a total length of 26,000 feet of lights that outlines almost all of the countries.  Morocco doesn’t light up because the center building is a replica of the Katoubia Minaret from Marrakesh.  Due to its important religious significance it would be demeaning to light it during the performance.  To keep symmetry, the Norway Pavilion doesn’t light up either. 

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There are 3 different acts that make up the show.  Act 1 is called chaos.  During this act there are fireworks and hot flames from the inferno barge.  This is to signify the creation of planet earth.  When the globe starts moving towards the center of the lagoon Act 2 (Order) is beginning.  Water effects start from the fountain barges to show the cooling of Earth.  Images begin on the globe showing the formation of countries, animals, landmarks and people to signify the rise of civilization and culture.  In Act 3 (Meaning) the torches around the lagoon are re-lit and the globe opens up so you can see a final unity torch.  The final fireworks are set off and the show ends with a loud crackle.  The voice of Jim Cummings, the show narrator, who is also the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and other Disney characters says the final words thanking everyone for coming and wishing everyone goodnight. 

With all of these special effects and pyrotechnics in this show you can only imagine what they have planned next!  If you want to get your chance to say goodbye to Illuminations reach out to me and let me help you plan your goodbye trip or a chance to see the new Epcot Forever show starting on October 1st

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