Wednesday, July 13, 2011

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

If you only have time to check out one evening show during your Disney World trip, I would highly recommend IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I'm a huge fireworks fan and I can safely say that this has been my favourite fireworks display ever since I first saw it years ago. Using fireworks, water jets, lasers, a giant LED-lit globe, a variety of fire displays, and the single most fabulous musical score I have ever heard used in such a show, IllumiNations officially opened at EPCOT in 1999 to celebrate the new millennium and was kept around because of its popularity.

There are several different aspects to the show aside from traditional fireworks, setting IllumiNations apart from other Disney displays which tend to rely almost solely on music and pyrotechnics. The most noticeable piece of technology in IllumiNations is, by far, the earth globe. Weighing in at 350 000lbs, the globe is covered in over 15 000 LED lights forming the continents of the world. The display changes between nature, technology, human, animal, and light displays throughout the show.

Water and fire barges are also pulled out onto the lagoon. The four water barges surround the earth globe and shoot up some pretty funky, coloured water effects. The massive fire barge, which hits the center of the lagoon at the start of the show, and spews out fire balls up to 60ft high. If you've found a spot to watch the show near the edge of the lagoon, you'll definitely feel the heat of the barge after every blast. To add a bit more fire to the show, nineteen torches surround the lagoon (symbolizing the nineteen centuries that have passed in the common era) and a twentieth is revealed near the end of the show in the center of the lagoon. At sunset and at varying times throughout the show, these torches are used to light up the path surrounding the water.

One of my favourite thing about IllumiNations, though, has to be the actual launch system used. Rather than traditional black powder, Disney engineers used air launchers. Not only do you not see the trail left by the shell, but the pollutants from black powder don't exist with an air launch. Taking a minute to give a shout out to environmental protection on the Disney property!

Now onto the fun, non-technical stuff. For the best spot to catch IllumiNations, try finding a place outside the Italian pavilion in World Showcase. If you arrive early enough (I try for a half hour before the show starts), grab a spot right against the railing on the canal-style bridges right up by the Italian part of the lagoon. If you're not thrilled about spending 30 minutes hanging around doing nothing, take this chance to grab a funnel cake from the near-by American pavilion, or trek a bit further before settling in and try a piece of baklava and a mint tea from the Moroccan pavilion. Snacks always make a wait tastier.

For up-to-date show times, check out WDWInfo.

♥ Rhys

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