IllumiNations at Disney World’s Epcot

IllumiNations at Disney World’s Epcot

Epcot Center is my favorite park at Walt Disney World. particularly the World Showcase, which features small replicas of eleven countries. Big surprise, considering how much of a travel geek I am, huh?

Well, one of the must-see opportunities at Epcot is the IllumiNations show, which lasts about 12 minutes and tells the story of our planet with fireworks, lasers, moving lights, torches, a big globe, and five barges. The effects are timed to coincide with music and narration. The introduction goes something like this:

“Good evening, and welcome. We’ve gathered here tonight, 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.

And though we each of us have our own individual stories to tell, a true adventure emerges when we bring them all together as one. I hope you enjoy our story tonight – Reflections of Earth.”

As Earth is formed, flames and fireworks erupt from the lagoon.


Then an illuminated globe glides peacefully across the water. It is the world’s first spherical video display system, wrapped in 15,000 LEDs.

rsz_illuminations_12 (1)

The surface of the globe reveals the history of humanity and the achievements of our time. More fireworks brighten the night sky before the globe opens to reveal a torch that symbolizes unity.


You can view IllumiNations anywhere throughout Epcot that offers a clear view of the World Showcase Lagoon. Be warned, though, that die hard visitors will stake out and claim a spot as early as two hours prior to the start of the show.

We have found that our favorite way to view the show is to eat a late-ish dinner at the Rose & Crown, located in the United Kingdom pavilion of the World Showcase, and linger afterwards for the fireworks. Here are some other spots that offer a good view:

  • A lakeside table at the Cantina de San Angel (Mexico pavilion)
  • The second floor deck of the Mitsukoshi Building in the Japan pavilion
  • The gondola landing in the Italy pavilion
  • The boat dock opposite the Germany pavilion
  • The waterfront walkway between the Germany and China pavilions
  • The pedestrian bridge between the United Kingdom and France pavilions
  • World Showcase Plaza – the area connecting Future World with World Showcase.

And some other tips to consider:

  • Check to see which way the wind is blowing when you select a spot. Wherever the wind blows, the smoke will follow. It’s hard to enjoy fireworks when your eyes are stinging and you’re wracked with coughs.
  • Stick together when you’re leaving, and have a designated meeting point in case you get separated. You will be among as many as 30,000 other tourists and because IllumiNations is the last thing that happens before the park closes, everyone tends to leave at the same time.
  • If you are staying at any of the Disney properties near Epcot (Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, Boardwalk Inn & Villas, The Swan, or The Dolphin), view the fireworks from the southern half of the World Showcase (roughly between the Canada pavilion and the US pavilion). When the show is over, you can exit through Epcot’s back door, also known as the International Gateway, and either walk or take a boat to your hotel.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth takes place every night (weather permitting) at the EpcotCenter World Showcase in Walt Disney World.  Epcot Center is located at 200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821.  Telephone 407-824-4321.  Show times vary by day & season.

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