Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the blockbuster nighttime firework, laser, pyrotechnic, music, light and visual extravaganza that ends the day at EPCOT. The 12 minute show is presented in and around the World Showcase Lagoon. Each country in the World Showcase is highlighted during the production.
Uncle Walt was big on a closing kiss goodnight. This is one of the best. The fireworks are incredible and go on and on. You won’t want to miss this.
EPCOT Illuminations – Reflections of Earth
Photo by WDW Shutterbug
Where to Watch
You can see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth from about anywhere around the World Showcase Lagoon. Obviously, you want to be as close to the water as possible, and not have a tree, or a building between you and the lagoon.
Dad’s “secret” garden for watching Illuminations (no longer open)
The best places to watch the show are now reserved for special guests, parties and handicapped. If you can get in, there is an area on the Future World side of the lagoon to the right of the shops on the lagoon. Also, if you can get into the dock areas in Italy and Morocco you can get a pretty good view.
The bridge between the United Kingdom and France has a pretty good view of the whole lagoon.
The main thing is to stake your spot early. It’s not unusual to see guests starting to line up as early as 8:00 for the 9:00 show. Try to find a place where you have an unimpeded view of the whole lagoon and as many of the countries as possible.
About 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the show, special music begins to play around the World Showcase. There is a loop of 6 songs by composers from around the world. There are warning announcements that countdown to the lights dimming and the show beginning. The lights dim about 1 minute prior to the show beginning.
As the lights dim, the torches around the lagoon light up and the narrator starts talking and the show begins.
Photo by Disney Photo Snapper
This is probably one of the most technologically difficult shows anywhere. It combines fireworks, lasers, moving lights, torches, the big globe, the inferno barge and 4 water fountain barges. Each effect if precisely timed to coincide with the music and narration.
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is like a 3 act play. It has 3 sections or “acts”. The story builds through the three acts.
- Act One: Chaos – The Inferno Barge spills hot flames and fireworks explode over the lagoon to signify the creation of planet earth.
- Act Two: Order – The torches around the lagoon go out, the Earth Globe appears and water starts to cool the hot earth. The globe turns to blue and countries form. The countries are highlighted with spot lights and lasers. More fireworks.
- Act Three: Meaning – The song “We Go On” plays and the torches are re-lit. The Earth Globe opens and the big unity torch flames up. The lagoon is lighted with fireworks.
That’s it. The show ends. The narrator thanks you for joining in the celebration of life and everyone goes home.
Photo by WDW Shutterbug
What If I’m Eating Dinner?
Hey Dad, what if I’m eating dinner during Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, can I still watch the show?
Nope, you’re smooth out of luck. (Just kidding.) Most of the World Showcase restaurants will allow you go run outside during the show and not give your seat to someone else, but, you have to let your server know your going to watch the show.
Here are some interesting tidbits –
- 1,105 firework shells are used in each show and are launched from 750 tubes from 34 locations around the lagoon.
- 400 gallons of propane are used by the inferno barge every night. Flames leap up to 60 feet in the air from 37 different nozzles.
- At 10:30 every night the “Inferno Barge Burn Off” takes place and any extra propane in the barge is burned off. If the park is open late, you might get to see this happen. It can be heard at most of the Boardwalk area hotels.
Special lights add to the show
Photo by Mike Billick
Way back when Disneyland was in it’s infancy, guests would ride the rides and then leave the park in the middle of the afternoon. By evening, the park would be empty. Walt Disney (the man, not the company) wanted to find a way to keep guests in the park later in the evening. So he started an evening firework show. It was an instant hit and very successful at keeping guests in the park until closing time.
EPCOT has gone through a series of closing shows. Some of the first shows were so unmemorable no one really remembers them. In 1998, the first Illuminations was introduced. It included some new effects including graphics projected on streams of water.
Through the years the show has gone through 4 major updates to reach where it is today. This version of the show was debuted in October of 1999. In 2009 Gold Ticket Awards pronounced it the Best Outdoor Night Production Show.
Even from Future World it looks good
Photo by Matthew Cooper
Dad’s Attraction Information Table
|Description: The nighttime entertainment show with fireworks|
|Height Requirement – none||FastPass:no||Length of show: 12 minutes|
|Type of ride: Show full of fireworks, characters and music|
Other Information: This show has loud noises and some heat from the gas barge.
Dad’s Bottom Line
Like EPCOT itself, this show is pretty disjointed and hard to follow, but the effects are spectacular.
Illuminations Reflections of Earth will help you end your day at EPCOT with a bang.