EPCOT Forever Coming October 1, 2019 – History of EPCOT Night-time Show

It’s been a long time since I’ve written on the blog.  But I hope to change that starting today.  Last night, some big news was announced.  Illuminations will be ending its run as EPCOT’s night-time fireworks show on September 30, 2019.  EPCOT Forever will debut the very next night on October 1, 2019.  Illuminations had a long 20-year run as the night-time show in EPCOT.  Illuminations made it’s debut on October 1, 1999 as part of EPCOT’s Millennium Celebration.

I want to use the announcement of EPCOT Forever’s debut as a chance to look back on the history of the night-time show at EPCOT.

photo from disneyavenue

The first night-time show at EPCOT was the short-lived Carnival de Lumiere which made its debut on October 23, 1982 just 23 days after EPCOT opened it’s doors for the first time on October 1, 1982.  This show seems smalls in comparison to the Disney night-time shows of today.  Carnival de Lumiere was run completely on Apple computers which weren’t very powerful and the show could only be seen from the Canada and Mexico pavilions.  The show has been described as World of Color but using early 80’s technology.

Carnival de Lumiere’s run did not even last a full year before A New World Fantasy debuted in the summer of 1983.  The show used the same technology as Carnival de Lumiere which meant it could only be seen from the Canada and Mexico pavilions.  The show was much longer and was more like a three-act play using rear projection, music, and fireworks to tell the story.

A New World Fantasy had a run similar to Carnival de Lumiere in that it only lasted one year.  In 1984, Laserphonic Symphony replaced A New World Fantasy.  In retrospect, Laserphonic Symphony was more of an upgrade of A New World Fantasy.  Laserphonic Symphony had the same musical score as A New World Fantasy but it used a full orchestra instead of synthesizers for the music.  The fireworks were upgraded and saved for the end of the second act and at the very end.  All of the countries in the World Showcase (minus Norway which had just opened) were part of a Laserphonic Symphony.

Laserphonic Fantasy’s four-year run as the night-time show brings us to 1988 when Illuminations made its debut.  Yeah, I told you that Illuminations made its debut in 1999 but it’s best to call the current Illuminations, Illuminations V.  There were four different Illuminations shows which ran from 1988 to 1999 AND a Holiday Illuminations which ran from 1994 to 1998.  Here’s a rundown on the different Illuminations shows that ran from 1988 to 1999.

Illuminations I (1988 to 1996): Same score as Laserphonic Fantasy with upgraded fireworks.

Illuminations 25 (1996 to 1997): Created and named for the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World.  Show had three acts.  The first act honored World Showcase.  The second act honor Future World.  The closing act was The Circle of Life.

Illuminations 25b (1997 to 1998): Show still celebrated the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World but replaced with music honoring World Showcase with classical music.

Illuminations 98 (1998 to 1999): Exact same show as Illuminations 25b but the 25th anniversary announcement was removed.

Holiday Illuminations (1994 to 1998): Run during the holiday season hosted by Walter Cronkite.

Illuminations V (1999 to 2019): Current show which runs today.

Looking to go down to Walt Disney World and see the last shows of Illuminations or the first shows of EPCOT Forever?  Contact the operator of DadForDisney at Fairytale Journeys by Tim Brooks (timtravels92@gmail.com).  A Disney vacation is a big event and Fairytale Journeys by Tim Brooks is with you every step of the way from choosing a resort to booking dining reservations to planning your days in the park.


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