Rumors about a new nighttime show for Epcot have been swirling since 2015, and with Disney opening Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom, and Disney Movie Magic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the timing seems right for Epcot to get a new, refreshed nighttime show, especially as IllumiNations has been operating without a sponsor for several months now.
And though this rumor has been around for quite some time, a recent development seems to indicate that this new show may finally be moving out of the development phase…
Permits filed for construction around the World Showcase Lagoon
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has approved a new construction project that will bring extensive electrical upgrades to Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon. This nearly $2 million project will involve drilling a pipe from the South side of the lagoon onto one of the manmade islands as well as “electrical upgrades” that include money to purchase new transformers and switches.
And though these budgetary items may sound like maintenance work, with such a big pricetag we’re inclined believe that this new construction project is laying the groundwork for the long-rumored successor to the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime spectacular.
And though it is all but certain that whatever replaces this show will be pyrotechnics-based, this work suggests that this new show could use the World Showcase Lagoon in a very different way than IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. And we actually have a pretty good idea what this new show could be like…
New drone technology could power this new show
Back in 2014, rumors surfaced that Disney was pursuing drone-based technology for use as part of a brand new show, again reportedly inside Epcot. Though this rumor lost traction in the years since it first surfaced, Disney’s Starbright Holidays drone show (which performed a limited engagement back in 2016 at Disney Springs) provided a solid proof of concept for drone-based entertainment at Walt Disney World, and it seems very likely that Disney could be looking at using this technology for a brand new nighttime spectacular at this park.
And even though Disney has used this technology before, a substantial new infrastructure will indeed need to be built if a fleet of drones is going to be used for a new show, which could be why rumors suggest we could be looking at a longer than normal construction window, with Disney possibly looking at debuting this rumored new show in time for the resort’s 50th anniversary in 2021 (which is, incidentally, when the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is also set to debut).
As for the theme of the show, there haven’t been any hints about what to expect from this new show, but the addition of two new character-based attractions between now and 2021 seems like another big step towards making Epcot a more IP-focused park, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Disney continues to incorporate more characters into Epcot via this upcoming show.
Though this may be a controversial change among Disney fans, if Disney is really trying to modify the focus of Epcot, introducing a new nighttime spectacular that represents the evolving identity of this park would be a great way to reinforce these changes. While the content of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is certainly timeless, the message of this show seems very tied to the Epcot of the late 1990s, and with Disney making so many changes to this park in the service of a new identity, IllumiNations might not really “fit” within the context of the park’s theme anymore, which seems like reason enough to switch this classic show out for something newer.
Of course, it is important to remember that nothing has been confirmed at this moment, but when you consider the age of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (it’s hard to believe, but this show is over 15 years old!), as well as the fact that Disney is basically rebooting Epcot over the next few years, it seems more than a little likely that IllumiNations is finally on its way out, so if you count yourself as one of this show’s many fans, we’d advise getting out to the park and seeing it again sometime this year, as the future of this show is currently very much in doubt, and as work ramps up for this new show (whatever it is), we could be looking at a closure before the end of the year.
News source. Disney Insider.