January 30th marks the anniversary of the groundbreaking debut of IllumiNations at EPCOT Center. Sponsored by GE, the original incarnation of the venerable nighttime spectacular at EPCOT ran from 1988-1996.
The show was actually a reinvention of the previous nighttime show at EPCOT known as Laserphonic Fantasy. IllumiNations was meant to be a musical journey around World Showcase and used much of the musical score from Laserphonic Fantasy only now recorded by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra - Laserphonic Fantasy used digitized instruments.
IllumiNations was divided into three separate movements. The first movement was an introduction and set the stage for the journey. Images of modes of transportation and monuments from around the world were projected onto water screens and choreographed along with fountains and classical music to begin the journey.
The second movement swept the audience around World Showcase as each country took the stage. Classical music from each country was played and synchronized to the lighting on each pavilion separately. The last country “visited” was the USA as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was played. Now all the countries lit up in unison to celebrate the end of the journey. The second movement would be familiar to anyone who has seen the current New Year’s Eve countdown at Epcot as much of that music is taken from the original IllumiNations.
The third movement was a celebration with all the countries of World Showcase illuminated and synchronized to selections of festive classical music, lasers, and pyrotechnics.
When IllumiNations was first shown, it was described as a nighttime spectacle that captured the glitter of Times Square, the fantasy of Paris at night and the splendor of Piccadilly in an international music and light show.
This original IllumiNations used 13 special-effects projectors, 11 searchlights, 12 wire/mesh grids, 180 fountain nozzles pumping 5,000 gallons of water per minute, 783 fireworks pieces, 550 theatrical lights, and ran for a total of 16:30 minutes.
WTSC Radio will be playing the original IllumiNations at 9pm on January 30th in celebration of the anniversary of the show.