It looks like a replacement for Epcot's IllumiNations might happen very soon

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PHOTO VIA DISNEY
  • Photo via Disney
After nearly two decades, Epcot’s IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth might be getting a major overhaul. Rumors of a new nighttime show at Epcot have been around for years now, but in recent weeks details on the new show have been leaking out at a rapid pace.

The new show may keep the IllumiNations part of the name, but few other aspects of the current show will remain. On the WDWMagic forums one inside who goes by the username Marni1971 reports that the new show will be called “Illuminations: Windows on the World.” In a separate post Marni1971 also reports that the new show will feature intellectual properties.

YouTuber Jack Kendall of DSNY Newscast reports that other insiders have confirmed these intellectual properties will represent the countries of World Showcase, including clips of Frozen to represent Norway, Coco to represent Mexico, Mary Poppins for the United Kingdom, and Ratatouille for France. Though not mentioned, Kendall hinted that other Disney characters in the show may include Mulan, Aladdin, and Belle. As he points out in a video this would keep with the mission of the Epcot overhaul; “More Timeless, More Relevant, and More Disney.



Numerous rumors point to the new show featuring drones similar to the ones used for a 2016 Christmas show at Disney Springs. That show was part of a broader test by Intel. Since then the company has used its Shooting Star drones at the Winter Olympics and numerous other events around the globe. Disney has been busy filing patents for its own drones, so it’s not clear if the rumored IllumiNations drones will be the Intel ones, or custom-built ones Disney designs itself. It’s also not clear what type of drone technology the new show will use. Disney has filed patents for drones equipped with large LED screens and ones that control massive puppets.

Jim Hill, known for his early reporting on many Disney projects, has stated that these drones may instead be used as part of a new lagoon show that is slated to replace or accent the Electric Water Pageant. There are also questions on where the Epcot drones may be located since they are unable to fly directly over guest areas. This may be fixed by bringing the drones into the World Showcase lagoon via a barge, or it may mean that the drones might actually be located in another area, such as the backstage areas behind the World Showcase Pavilions.

In late February, WDW News Today reported that the new show was nearing completion with the score and vocals for it being recorded that month. Since then, other insiders have refuted the claims that we could see the show in a matter of months, instead pointing to a 2019 or 2020 opening.

Originally the new show was rumored for the 50th Anniversary in 2021 but with Animal Kingdom’s less than popular nighttime show Rivers of Light expecting to get an overhaul sometime in 2020 (which will also include the introduction of Disney characters), the Epcot show now looks to be fast-tracked with a planned opening date before the Animal Kingdom closure.

Steven Davison, Vice President Parades and Spectaculars, is reportedly taking a very hands-on approach with the new show. Davison is credited 
Animal Kingdom's Rivers of Light nighttime show - PHOTO BY DAVID ROARK
  • Photo by David Roark
  • Animal Kingdom's Rivers of Light nighttime show
with creating some of Disney Parks most popular nighttime shows, including Wishes, World of Color, Disneyland Paris’s Disney Illuminations, and the Tokyo DisneySea version of the Fantasmic! show. The Tokyo Fantasmic! might give us a good indication of what to expect at Epcot. Similar to Epcot that show takes place in a central lagoon that offers nearly 360-degree viewing. It also has boats and other activities that take place on it during the day.

The new IllumiNations at Epcot is rumored to feature the very latest in hydrotechnic technology, well beyond the fountains used in Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light. Disney has been relying more heavily on fountains in its shows, featuring them in at least one nighttime show at every Disney resort except for Disneyland Hong Kong. However, a show featuring them is currently under construction there.

An artist rendering of Disney's Future World plans. Presented at the 2017 D23 convention. - IMAGE VIA SCOTT GUSTIN | TWITTER
  • Image via Scott Gustin | Twitter
  • An artist rendering of Disney's Future World plans. Presented at the 2017 D23 convention.
In artwork released last year, fountains can be seen throughout the updated Future World. These fountains were thought to be part of this new show, but with the sped-up timeline, those aspects now look to be delayed or removed altogether.

A separate projection mapping show, which would use various buildings in Future World and interact with other lighting in the area, is rumored to be part of the updates. Few details on this show have been leaked.

The Future World projection mapping show is expected to be similar to Animal Kingdom’s nightly Tree of Life Nighttime Awakenings that takes place at various times throughout the evening, mostly unannounced and are only a few minutes in length.

No word on when Disney plans to announce the rumored new IllumiNations, with most of this year’s focus on the new Toy Story Land opening at Hollywood Studios.

A large Epcot announcement, with new details on the Guardians of the Galaxy indoor roller coaster, the trackless Ratatouille ride, the rumored Mary Poppins attraction, and other additions is expected sometime before next year’s opening of the Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios. It's likely we'll know more about this new Epcot show before or as a part of that announcement.