Review: Illuminations at Epcot
By Dave Shute
ILLUMINATIONS AT EPCOT AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
It combines fireworks, music, flames, a cool thingy (I won’t be more specific, you’ll know it when you see it!), and lasers into a surprising and exciting show.
Other than a few introductory and ending comments, the show is not narrated.
Without giving the scoop away, the show is essentially the story of the world–from its beginnings to the present.
Illuminations is in the top five of many repeat visitors to Walt Disney World, and it is listed as a favorite on this site’s Comprehensive Guide to Rides.
HOW OFTEN AND WHEN ILLUMINATIONS HAPPENS
Illuminations is the only current Walt Disney World evening show that is produced every single night.
- About 90% of evenings it happens at 9p.
- During the Christmas season–from the day after Thanksgiving on–it traditionally is presented at 9.30p.
- On New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July its time can be modified to better link to the traditional fireworks also shown these nights.
Check the Epcot Calendar (find your month, then click on the days of your visit) to double check when it is being shown during the time you will be at Walt Disney World.
(Disney’s calendars are harder to use than they should be–see this if you need help.)
WHERE TO PLACE YOURSELF TO SEE ILLUMINATIONS
Unlike Wishes, which was designed to be seen from a specific axis, Illuminations can be seen at its best from many places in the World Showcase.
That said, the view of the thingy can easily be blocked–by people or islands.
Islands near the Outpost, China, Morocco and France make Illuminations hard to see from these areas. The same is true for parts of the Norway and Japan areas.
You can tell from where you are standing if the islands will block your view. Don’t worry about islands all the way across the lagoon–the issue is islands between you and the center of the lagoon.
This means that, unlike all other nights, the park does not close immediately after the show. As a result, you can stay in the park after and avoid the tens of thousands of people who leave when the show ends.
You can, because of this, pick a spot on the south end of the World showcase–in Germany, Italy, or America–and other than the busiest times of the year should be able to get a good spot by 30 minutes before showtime.
If you are at Epcot on a night when you cannot stay after the show’s end–and are not staying at one of the Epcot resorts, to which you can walk after the show– then your trade-off is between time spent holding a spot versus time spent trying to leave the park.
If you want to be one of the first group to leave the park after the show ends, then you need at spot at the north end of the World Showcase. Good spots here can require claiming 60 minutes before or more.