IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

I’ve seen Epcot’s “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” over a hundred times easily and in watching it so many times I began to wonder if the guests watching this spectacular show ever realize that it is telling a story. After all, a story without pictures or words can be very hard to catch onto, but if you go to the show knowing it’s there you can easily discover it. Remember, Disney doesn’t do anything that doesn’t tell a story!

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – The Story

Like all good stories, this one has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The Beginning

Disney calls this “The Earth is Born.” Giant bursts of fireworks begin this story both in the air and on the ground. Huge fireballs erupt from the middle of the lagoon with heat that you can feel from the shore. Colors of red, yellow, and orange dominate the chaotic beginning of this story. Our earth is born and glides quietly to the center of the lagoon.

The Middle

This is where we come in. Our stories are told with pictures and videos of our achievements, countries, and famous landmarks. The buildings around the lagoon light up with lasers, spotlights, and lights strung on the buildings themselves. The fountains surrounding the earth shoot straight up and out reflecting the many different colors you see on the globe. This part of the story is called “The Triumph of Life.”

The End

This is the story of our future and the hope that it brings. This part of the story is very bright and colorful with all the effects being used. The torches that surround the lagoon are now relit and the globe begins to open up to reveal a final torch in the center shooting out thousands of white comets in the air. The voice of Kellie Coffey singing “We Go On” brings in this great finale that leaves you inspired and hopeful. This one is titled “Hope for the Future” by Disney.

You should probably just ignore my commentary of the show and watch it for yourself!

The Music

“Reflections of Earth” was composed by Gavin Greenaway and recorded with a 71-piece philharmonic orchestra and 30 person chorus. This is played through the beginning and middle. Parts of the music was apparently used during coverage of President Obama’s Inauguration. Listen to it here, Reflections of Earth

“We Go On” written by Don Dorsey and sung by Kellie Coffey. This is the song during the end of the show. Listen here, We Go On

“Promise” also written by Don Dorsey and sung by Kellie Coffey. This song is played after the show is over. Listen to it here, Promise

Seasonal Tags

Instead of changing the show for the holiday seasons Disney just adds an extra portion to the end of the show called a tag.

Holiday Tag – This tag begins on November 25th and lasts until December 3oth this year to coincide with Holidays Around the World. I’m not sure you could get a more stunning and touching shows you could watch. Watch the video below to see what I mean, although a screen does it no justice. You have to go see it for yourself.

New Years Tag – Another amazing show to ring in the new year. During the finale you are almost certain you won’t be able to hear after it ends. It celebrates each countries new year each with its own style and ends with a spectacular finale for America’s new year. You can watch it here, News Years Tag, the tag starts at about the 13-minute mark.

Fourth of July Tag – Called “Heartbeat of Freedom” celebrates America’s independence day. It seems this show would even leave visitors from other countries feeling extremely patriotic. Check out the Fourth of July Tag starting at about 13 minutes in this video.

Quick Facts

  • Jim Cummings is the narrator. You may recognize him as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and many more.
  • The show uses air launch(compressed air) technology to propel the firework shells upward. A chip in that shell gives the ability to make it burst at the right height and time with the music.
  • Four Fountain Bargers pump out 4,000 gallons of water per minute each.
  • The Inferno Barge creates fires balls 60 foot high using 37 nozzles.
  • The Earth Globe is the very first spherical video display and weighs 350,000 pounds.
  • The Earth Globe is actually driven by a real person to the center of the lagoon during the show.
  • Four colors were made specifically for the show: lagoon blue, mint green, pumpkin orange and lavender.
  • There have been five iterations of IllumiNations: IllumiNations(1988-1996), IllumiNations 25A(1996-1997), IllumiNations 25B(1997-1998), IllumiNations(1998-1999) and IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth(1999-2000), which is now IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth(2001-Present).
    There was a 6th IllumiNations, Holiday IllumInations, that lasted the from 1994 to 1998 during the holiday seasons. Using all Christmas music in place of the regular show.
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