New government documents suggest Epcot is about to get an updated nighttime show

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IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth - IMAGE VIA DISNEY
  • Image via Disney
  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
For more than five years there has been an ever-increasing amount of rumors regarding an update to Epcot’s Illuminations nighttime show, with the rumors reaching near fever pitch levels last month.

Now new government documents seem to confirm the rumors.

More than $2 million in upgrades to Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon, including $1.8 million in electrical upgrades, were approved last week by Reedy Creek, the government entity that oversees Walt Disney World.



One notable aspect of the upgrades is a pipe connecting one of the islands in the human-made lagoon to the shore near the American Adventure Pavilion. Insider Jim Hill, who has been sharing details on the yet-to-be confirmed show since at least 2014, has floated the name "IllumiNations: Windows on the World" for the new show. This name would allow Disney to keep the well-known IllumiNations name while still signaling a new show has replaced the current Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime show.

Late last year Forbes weighed in on the IllumiNations rumors in an article about Disney’s various nighttime shows. “Despite being at the heart of Epcot for more than half of the park’s lifetime, the sun appears to be setting on Reflections of Earth. Disney is embarking on an overhaul of Epcot with initial concept art showing a series of sweeping fountains on the lagoon and what appears to be a giant curved LED screen. It seems purpose-built for a new show,” explained the article.

Forbes then goes on to confirm that the British composer from the original show, Gavin Greenaway, nor the Imagineer who is credited with many of the show’s most iconic scenes, Don Dorsey, have no involvement with the rumored new show.

Steve Davison, Lead Creative Executive of Parades and Spectaculars for Walt Disney Creative Entertainment, is still thought to be taking the lead on designing the new show, as reported on here back in March.

Davison is credited with overseeing some of Disney’s most popular shows and parades, including Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy parade and Tokyo DisneySea’s version of Fantasmic!, which has a theater in the round style setting similar to that of Epcot’s IllumiNations.

The LED screens mentioned by Forbes are just one of many new technologies expected to be included in the new show. Other technology may also include flying drones with LED monitors or giant puppets attached to them, floating drones similar to the ones used in Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light nighttime show, and updated lighting effects.

Numerous insiders confirm Forbes’s mention of fountains. It’s thought they will be like those used in California Adventure’s Worlds of Color, another Davison designed show.

One of the more surprising, and newer, rumors regarding the nighttime offerings at Epcot is a World Showcase based nighttime parade. Brayden Holness on Mickey Views has reported that at least one source has indicated to him that a nighttime parade is in the works for Epcot with the parade route stretching around World Showcase. If this is realized in the park, it would require extensive shifting of the current booths used in Epcot’s numerous festivals.

Those festivals, which currently fill nine months a year, are expected to be winding down in the coming years as the park begins opening multiple new attractions with some of the festivals possibly changing parks or shifting their focus from World Showcase to Future World. Other options include moving the food booths, many of which are temporary buildings loosely themed to their offerings, to other areas of the pavilions, possibly towards the back, freeing up sidewalk space along the waterfront that would be required for a parade to move around the lagoon.

While the reporting at Mickey Views seems to indicate that this nighttime show would be part of IllumiNations, it could take place just before the fireworks show, similar to how SeaWorld Orlando’s Club Sea Glow dance party draws in the crowds ahead of the Ignite nighttime show.

An artist rendering of Disney's plans for Epcot's Future World shared at D23 - IMAGE VIA SCOTT GUSTIN | TWITTER
  • Image via Scott Gustin | Twitter
  • An artist rendering of Disney's plans for Epcot's Future World shared at D23
Other rumored nighttime additions to the updated Epcot also include a projection show that would stretch across Future World and special color changing lighting around Future World. It’s not clear if this rumored projection show would be short mini-shows, similar to the Tree of Life awakenings that take place throughout the evening, or if the new Future World projection show would be a single show, similar to projection shows in Disneyland that include scenes in various sections of the park.

Both the projection show and the nighttime parade have yet to be confirmed by most of the insiders who have shared previous information regarding Disney’s plans for the park.

More details on the confirmed World Showcase Lagoon electrical work will likely be shared within the next few months. It’s believed that the new IllumiNations show should debut ahead of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 2021.

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