The one constant about Walt Disney World is change. Walt Disney always said that his parks would never be finished, as they would always grow and change over time, and while some attractions have become cultural institutions, and may never disappear, others eventually run their course to be replaced by something new and exciting. Such is now the case with IllumiNations: Reflection of Earth. The nightly fireworks spectacular has been delighting guests at Epcot since 1999 but is now getting ready to end its run.
If you'd like to see IllumiNations one final time before it says goodbye, you do have time. The Disney Parks Blog announced that the show is set to have its final performances at the end of summer in 2019, so you've got probably close to exactly one year to book your next trip to Walt Disney World and see IllumiNations. Once the final performance takes place, however, a new nighttime show is set to "immediately" take its place, and if there's anything that takes the sting out of seeing a Disney Parks tradition go away, it's the bright, shiny newness of whatever takes its place.
Of all the various attractions and shows that take place at the various Disney parks, fireworks shows are some of the most common to be replaced. The "standard" show, whatever it is at any given park, often takes a break whenever a major holiday comes around for a special show dedicated to that holiday, but these breaks often make way for natural retirements and replacements. This is part of what makes Illuminations: Reflections of Earth such an interesting case. The show has been part of Epcot since the last millennium. Disney fans who first saw it as little kids are now buying beers in the Germany Pavillion before seeing it as adults. The fact that the show hadn't been retired before now made one wonder if it ever would be. The show will end just short of its 20th birthday, as it started in October of 1999 and looks to be ending no later than September of 2019.
The change in nighttime entertainment is part of a larger major renovation to Epcot ahead of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary coming in 2021. Two major new attractions have been announced, a Guardians of the Galaxy themed roller coaster as well as a Ratatouille-themed ride that is going into the France Pavillion in the World Showcase. There's also a new outer space themed restaurant planned for near the Mission: SPACE attraction, though it has had some problems in construction.
While some will probably be sad to see IllumiNations go away, nobody can argue that the show didn't have an impressive run. And one can be fairly confident that whatever replaces it will be an even bigger spectacle, considering that everytime Walt Disney World comes out with a new light and fireworks show, the newest technology makes it truly something to see. Look for the new show to debut in late summer or early autumn 2019.
Image courtesy WDWnews.com/Disney