Every night for the last 20 years, people visiting Epcot would end their day by watching the theme park’s extravagant fireworks display, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Guests would listen to bombastic music play as fireworks lit up the night sky, a beloved tradition that delighted families and Disney World workers alike.
But after nearly two decades of exciting guests, IllumiNations will come to an end next year, Disney announced on Sept. 17 on its blog. The company says the phase-out of the legendary pyrotechnic show is part of Epcot’s multi-year transformation, which will include new attractions and an evening show on the World Showcase Lagoon.
The Walt Disney World Resort debuted IllumiNations on Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon in October 1999, and it quickly became a popular attraction among the millions of people who visit the park daily. The iconic fireworks show is scheduled to run until the end of next summer.
“During the coming year, we’ll be celebrating this classic show, so you still have plenty of time to experience it again and again, as excitement builds for what’s next,” Disney wrote on its blog.
News that Disney will phase out IllumiNations doesn’t come as a surprise, though. Rumors of its closure have swirled among theme park enthusiasts for some time, prompted by the more than $2 million in electrical work that’s happening on Epcot’s lagoon. Disney had declined to comment on the upgrade, according to the Orlando Sentinel, but people suspected that big changes were on the horizon.
Still, although not unexpected, IllumiNations’ end has saddened both Disney guests and its staff. One former Epcot employee, Twitter user @999HappyHops, recalled how the award-winning nightly show helped her through tough times.
“I knew its end was coming, and I know it’s ‘just’ a fireworks show, but wow. I’m sad,” she wrote.
IllumiNations was my nightly soundtrack when I worked at Epcot in 2001. It comforted me after an unexpected divorce, and brought me great joy to share it with the fiancee after getting engaged. I knew its end was coming, and I know it's "just" a fireworks show, but wow. I'm sad.
— Amanda (@999HappyHops) September 17, 2018
Another guest, @KateElliott41, expressed her disappointment by writing about special memories she had as a child at the park: “I know IllumiNations is outdated, but it holds up the original vision of EPCOT Center so well and one of the reasons I loved the park so much. I remember being 9 years old and literally crying and falling in love with EPCOT because of this show.”
I know IllumiNations is outdated, but it holds up the original vision of EPCOT Center so well and one of the reasons I loved the park so much. I remember being 9 years old and literally crying and falling in love with EPCOT because of this show
— Kate (@KateElliott41) September 17, 2018
Epcot guests, though, can look forward to grand new attractions and entertainment over the next three years. Both the new “Ratatouille” dark ride and highly-anticipated “Guardians of the Galaxy” roller coaster are expected to open in 2021. An “all-new nighttime fireworks spectacular” will also launch immediately following IllumiNations’ final run, according to Disney.
What’s your favorite IllumiNations memory?