After 19 years, one of Disney’s classic nighttime shows is finally ending. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the evening spectacle that has lit up Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon since 1999, will be no more.
The stirring retelling of Earth’s origins from creation to community has long been a crowd favorite, performed nightly in the center of Epcot’s 11 country pavilions. IllumiNations’ final show won’t be until end of next summer, but luckily, its replacement will be right behind it.
According to Disney Parks Blog, the subsequent show will “debut immediately” after IllumiNations’ final bow, giving guests yet another reason to visit the parks in 2019 beyond Mickey Mouse’s first ride and the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in late fall.
What exactly will Epcot’s new nighttime extravaganza entail? No one’s certain, but it’s likely that IllumiNation’s successor will feature familiar characters more often seen at parks like Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. Disney’s dedication to updating the theme park to be more of a family-friendly destination has spurred a multi-year transformation, marked by the arrival of a "Ratatouille" ride and "Guardians of the Galaxy" indoor roller coaster before Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.
It’s a significant shift from the roots of Disney’s technology- and science-centric theme park, which grew out of Walt’s plans for an idyllic futuristic city, but fans of the nearly two-decade-old show need not be heartbroken. Walt Disney World’s replacement of longstanding Magic Kingdom nighttime fireworks show "Wishes with Happily Ever After" last year received widespread praise. The forward-thinking, visually stunning masterpiece has since become a can’t-miss part of a Disney World vacation for its storytelling, special effects, and delightful soundtrack.
It’s all but guaranteed that a combination of similar jaw-dropping features will make IllumiNations’ replacement even more of a spectacle, honoring Epcot’s innovative origins in its design, whether or not a spinning globe cracks wide open at the end.
In terms of technology specifically, we find it no small coincidence that Disney performed a drone show over a similar-size body of water for Christmas two years back. Whether or not they are actually put to use, one thing is for certain: 2019 is going to be a big year for Orlando.