IllumiNations Reflections of Earth: Why There Will Never Be Another Disney Show Like It

Earth Globe Torch Lit IllumiNations Reflections of Earth Epcot

IllumiNations Reflections of Earth is one of Disney's longest-running fireworks spectaculars of all time, and it just ended its twenty-year run on September 30th, 2019. It was something different amongst other Disney nighttime spectaculars and something I don't think we will ever see again in any Disney Park.

Here's why.

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth was created at a unique moment not only in Disney history but also in human history. Disney celebrated the dawning of the 21st century all across Epcot starting in 1999. This brought us classics like Tapestry of Nations and pin trading, and tragedies like the Epcot Wand, but the crown jewel of the celebration by far was IllumiNations.

This show, originally titled IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth, was designed to celebrate humanity entering a new millennium together, celebrating what unites us as opposed to what divides us. It told the story of earth, from its fiery beginnings to the present world order, with not a Disney character in sight.

Symbolism was everywhere in this show, from its 19 torches surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon to the 20th tourch inside the Earth Globe representing the end of the 20th century and the start of the new Millenium. This show was designed to last just around a year, and it is a testament to its strength and emotional power that we all continued to enjoy it for the next twenty years.

It perfectly embodied a day at Epcot. Not showcasing the Disney characters you may have met along the way, but embracing the feeling classic Epcot attempted to give you. Showing you the way the world could be, the ways we're different, and the ways that deep down we are all the same, We Are One.

Even before it ended, Epcot had left IllumiNations. It moved from its original theme of inspiration towards becoming more timeless and more Disney, and unfortunately, a symbolistic show about the unity of the human experience just doesn't fit into that vision. The upcoming HarmonioUS, though I doubt it will pack the same emotional punch as IllumiNations, will probably be a better fit for present-day Epcot.

I doubt we will ever see Disney attempt something on the scale of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth again, and that is a real shame. It united people around a universally understandable theme for twenty years, using its lagoon setting to its advantage.

Thank you for reading. Be sure to share your favorite memories of this amazing show in the comments below.