IllumiNations Reflections of Earth: Epcot's Evening Fireworks Extravaganza -
Award-winning travel guidebooks

   guidebooks   |   news   |   podcasts   |   boards   |   blog   |   worksheets   |   photos   |   articles   |   updates   |   register   |   follow us on

Hi, Guest!
WDW Planning Articles

WDW Traveling Articles

WDW Lodging Articles

WDW Touring Articles

WDW Dining Articles

WDW Making Magic Articles
'Dream It! Do it! My Half Century Creating Disney's Magic Kingdoms' by Marty Sklar
2013 Expedition Everest Challenge
A Birds' Eye View
A Magical Wedding Day
A Pirates League For Us
A Trio of Backstage Disney Tours
Adventuring Forth
Amazing Autograph Books
Amazingly E-Racing the Guilt
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Around the World on a Segway
Backstage Magic Tour
Backstage Tour
Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by Disney Institute with Theodore Kinni
Behind The Scenes
Behind the Scenes
Behind the Scenes
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for Boys
Bringing 'Frozen' to Life at Disney
Busch Gardens Tour
Cast Member Confidential
Cast Members Save the Day
Chaperoning at Walt Disney World
Christmas Day At Disney
Christmas Day Delights
Christmas In November
Cinderella Royal Family 5k
Cirque du Soleil
Dashing Through The ... Snow?
Dealing With the Post-Vacation Disney Blues
Decade of Dreams
Discovering the Magic
Disney Every Day
Disney Fan Gathering
Disney Podcasts
Disney Tech Primer - Part 2
Disney Vacation Countdown
Disney Vacations
Disney World and Down Syndrome - A Winning Combination
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney's Hollywood Studios Then and Now
Disney's PhotoPass and PhotoPass Plus
Disney's Sinister Soiree - A Delightfully Evil Treat
Fireworks Photo Ops!
Gardens of The World Tour
Getting Your Disney Fix
Give a Day, Get a Disney Day
Grad Nites @ Disney
Holiday Highlights at Walt Disney World
Holidays At The World
Holidays At The World
Horseback Trail Rides at Disney's Fort Wilderness
How I Helped My Scaredy-Cat Kid
How Young Is Too Young?
IllumiNations Reflections of Earth
Keeping the Magic Alive
Keys To The Kingdom
Last Day Disney Blues
Learning To Like Disney
Making the Wait Magical
Meeting Marty Sklar
Meeting Mickey Mouse
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Munching With Mickey
My Disney Wins
My Hidden Mickey Surprise
My Three Sons
Our Decade of Disney
Our Happily Ever After
Pack Your Pixie Dust
Pin Trading at Disney
Pirates & Princess Party
Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage
Pirates at Disney Parks Worldwide
Pirates, Pirates Everywhere!
Pleasure Island
Preserving Memories with PassPorter
Rediscovering Walt Disney World
Renting Surrey Bikes at Disney's Boardwalk
Richard Petty Driving Experience
Romance at Walt Disney World
Rumor Round-Up
runDisney Races - Better with Friends
Say Cheese!
Say Cheese!
Scrapbooking Disney
Senses: A Disney Spa at the Grand Floridian
Soarin' Over South Africa
Specialty Cruises
Spreading a Bit of Pixie Dust
Spreading A Little Pixie Dust
Star Wars Weekends
Stories from a Theme Park Insider by Robert Niles
Summer at Disney vs. Winter in Michigan
Survey Marks
Taking It Easy at Walt Disney World
Teeing Off at Disney
The 2009 Holiday Season at Walt Disney World
The 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
The American Idol Experience
The Behinds the Seeds Tour at Epcot
The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
The Laugh Floor Comedy Club
The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains
The Magic of Disney
The Monorails of Disney's Wonderful World of Theme Parks
The Osborne Spectacle of Lights
The Rest of the "World" For Kids
The Richard Petty Driving Experience
The Richard Petty Exotic Driving Experience
The School that Walt Built
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
The Sunrise Safari
The Unwitting Scrapper
The Vault of Walt by Jim Korkis
The Year Without Disney
There is More to Disney Than Rides
Three Generations of Disney Lovers
Tips & Tricks
Top 10 Disney Questions
Tower of Terror 10 Miler
Travels with
Unexpected Pleasures & Treasures
Unusual Photo Opportunities
Using YouTube for Disney Magic
Valentine's Day at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World At The Holidays
Walt Disney World Hidden History - Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes by Kevin Yee
Walt Disney World With the Grandkids
What A Wonderful World (of Disney)
What I Miss About a Disney Christmas
What Keeps Us Coming Back to Disney?
When Bad Trips Happen to Good People
When Illness Interferes with Your Vacation
When to Splurge and When to Save at Walt Disney World
Where to Find the Best Views in Walt Disney World - Part 3
Where to Find the Best Views in Walt Disney World - Part 4
Where to Find the Best Views in Walt Disney World - Part 5
Wilderness Back Trail Adventure
Ye Olde Magic Kingdom
Yuletide Magic

WDW General Travel Articles

View all PassPorter articles

IllumiNations Reflections of Earth: Epcot's Evening Fireworks Extravaganza

Walt Disney World photo
by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 3/4/2011

Cool Tip: Click here to get a FREE PDF version of this article, fully formatted to print and put into your PassPorter Deluxe Binder!

Filed in Articles > Walt Disney World > Making Magic  

"What's your favorite attraction?" It's the question that I'm sure many Disney visitors dread, because it's so hard to answer. After all, with four theme parks all providing at least a day's entertainment each, there are so many to pick from. How on earth could anyone choose?

It's something I've thought about for a long time. At different times, I've chosen the Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom (after all, the only other way to enjoy an experience like that is to visit Africa for a real safari), Spaceship Earth and Test Track in Epcot. But somehow, with each of those choices, I didn't feel 100% convinced that they were actually my favorites -- and surely your favorite shouldn't change?

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is held nightly at Epcot and usually marks the closing of the park, except on nights when it's hosting evening Extra Magic Hours. It's a superb ending to the day's activities and, to us, IllumiNations is not only "not to be missed" it's something that we try and catch as many times as we can while we're in Disney.

I think my appreciation of this nightly show on the World Showcase Lagoon has grown with my understanding of it. At first, like many people, I just enjoyed IllumiNations for its display. I mean, you're not going to find fireworks like that in very many places around the world. The first few times you watch IllumiNations, your jaw just drops at how many big bangs and explosions are included and you can't help but wonder how much it costs Disney to put this extravaganza on every night.

Then, after a few viewings, a sudden realization -- there are images on that globe in the middle of the lake. Hmm … knowing Disney, those images probably mean something. That means there's got to be a storyline in there that explains and links together all those big bangs and explosions. And of course there is.

The introduction before IllumiNations begins every evening gives you a good idea of what it's all about, inviting us to gather around the fire “as people of all lands have gathered for thousands and thousands of years before us, to share the light and to share a story, an amazing story, as old as time itself, but still being written.” That gives you the first clue that, over the next 12 or so minutes, you'll be taken on a journey through the earth's progress over the last few thousand years.

All those huge explosions at the beginning of IllumiNations that you thought were just there because we all like to enjoy amazing fireworks are actually representing the chaos as the earth was formed all that time ago. Suddenly the music reaches a crescendo and then it all goes quiet. Your eyes adjust to the darkness, following all the light from the amazing fireworks you've just seen and, before long, four sets of fountains spring to life and suddenly you notice there's something making its way out on to the middle of the lagoon – the globe with images of mankind's progression through the years beamed on to it. If you've never seen those images before, try watching this section of Illuminations through a video camera, camera or even a pair of binoculars and zoom right up on it and you'll be able to pick it all out. It's something well worth doing.

Illuminations Fireworks at Epcot photo
Illuminations Fireworks at Epcot

A view of the IllumiNations fireworks at Epcot. Taken near Epcot Canada. - photo by Wolfhunt

Then, before you know it, you're heading for the finale of IllumiNations and the globe opens up to reveal its secret -- an additional torch burning bright. For ages, we had never fully understood the significance of this, until it was explained to us. Look carefully around World Showcase Lagoon and you'll see twenty of these flames burning in the various different countries. The one that opens before your eyes is the 21st, welcoming you to the new century. Appropriate, as IllumiNations originally started in its current form for the Millennium celebrations.

Finally, it all ends and the usual way Illuminations finishes for me is with tears in my eyes. There is just something about the way that all the different elements of the show – the music, the fireworks, the fountains, the lasers, the globe and the flaming torches all come together so beautifully through the storyline that just moves me every time.

These days, having seen IllumiNations so many times, we don't necessarily feel the need to stake out a spot hours beforehand, as much of the show can easily be seen even when the crowds are three or four deep – trust me, we've been there and done that! The bits you will miss if you don't have a clear view across the lagoon are the globe and the fountains, so if you do want to see the whole thing, it is worth getting a place at least half an hour or so before the show starts or maybe an hour or so when the parks are busy.

We've got a number of IllumiNations viewing spots that we enjoy. Obviously the bridge between the UK and France is a popular one, as is the garden just below on the French side, but we also love the perspective of watching this show from Italy, as you can get photos with the gondola poles in shot and, on occasions, we've even been lucky enough to glimpse the nightly showing of Wishes from the Magic Kingdom from this spot.

Tip: Great IllumiNations Viewing Spot
If you want to watch IllumiNations at Epcot a good place to stand is by the Ferry between Future World (on the Future World side) and the World Showcase. I was given this little hint by a cast member! If you are going to watch from behind the ferry launch, stand to the right side of it (or if sitting on the planter, make sure you're to the right). The cast member said it's a great spot, but if you sit to the left the cover of the terminal will block a lot of your view. He was right, and we had a great spot for the fireworks! We even got to do a little shopping while everyone else was fighting to get to the front of the park! - tip contributed by Charlie

Save This Tip

A couple of things we always double check now when seeking out a spot to watch IllumiNations is whether there are any trees is the way that will block our view of the show and also which way the wind is blowing. This is an important consideration, especially if it is a windy day, as Illuminations can generate a lot of firework debris and smoke and you don't want to be in its path. We've learned from experience that it's not a pleasant way to end your evening at Epcot.

There is another wonderful way to experience IllumiNations and that's on a Disney specialty fireworks cruise, which I've covered in a previous article.

Epcot - Illuminations Fireworks Finale photo
Epcot - Illuminations Fireworks Finale

Finale of IllumiNations at Epcot - photo by jama324

You've discovered a PassPorter's Club Concierge Tip!
Ting the bell to read your tip and save it in your Concierge Desk!
About the Author:
Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

Related Links:
Gardens of The World Tour - A Guided Tour During Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival last updated 5/28/2009
Star Wars Weekends - Feel the Force at Disney's Hollywood Studios last updated 6/4/2009
Unusual Photo Opportunities - Getting Unique Photos at Disney last updated 6/18/2009
The Osborne Spectacle of Lights - Disney's Hollywood Studios last updated 7/6/2009
Dashing Through The ... Snow? - Sleigh Rides at Walt Disney World last updated 11/30/08

Reader Comments:

So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!

(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)

Updated 3/4/2011 - Article #141 

Read additional articles from

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  



We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2014
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks


RSS General PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel - Making More Magic: Everything Else at Walt Disney World!
PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disn...
Discuss tours, holidays, special occasions, childcare, and other magical opportunities.

Would/Did You Buy a Custom Magic Band At Disney World?
by Her Dotness
8 Jan 2015 at 5:48pm
I admit I was REALLY tempted by the Olaf design which was sooooo nicely done, but thirty bucks for something I'd actually use for just the few...
(click title above to view replies)

Total Visits: 9292

PassPorter ~ 1998-2015 ~ 17 Years of Making Dreams Come True!
Publishers of bestselling travel guidebooks and proud recipients of 13 national book awards
About PassPorter
About Us
Site Map
Privacy Policy
Images & Artwork
News & Updates
Message Boards
Concierge Desk
Books & E-Books
Customs Office
Register Books
Book Updates
Help & Info
Finding Answers to Questions
Help Desk
Using Your PassPorter Forum
Store Customer Service
E-Mail Us
Follow Us Front Page (Updated Daily!)
PassPorter Newsletter (weekly and free)
Latest Posts
YouTube Channel
Questions? Check our Site Map and visit our Help Desk to learn how to contact us online, by e-mail, and by phone.
Please feel free to link to this page so that other vacationers can find it.