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Florida Guide > Disney Parks

Illuminating Facts about Epcot’s Illuminations

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the nightly firework show at Walt Disney World’s Epcot. It takes place on the lagoon and runs for about 12 minutes.

The centre-piece of the show is the Earth Globe which moves onto the World Showcase Lagoon and anchors itself in the middle. The 28ft diameter globe sits on a 10 ft pedestal, weighs 350 tons, has 258 strobe lights and has six computer processors which control it. The barge it sits on is controlled by an infrared guidance system which allows it to be steered across the lagoon. The globe has the world’s first spherical video display system and is wrapped in 15,000 light emitting diodes. Approximately 300 pictures appear on the spherical video screens during the show and towards the end of the show the globe ‘opens’ like a flower to reveal a torch, towering high over the lagoon. There are twenty similar torches around the edges of the lagoon, each one representing a century that has passed. The LED video display is run by two servers which run identical programmes at the same time as a failsafe – if one goes down they can instantly switch to the other one.

There are several barges anchored in the lagoon providing the bases for the fire and fireworks. The Inferno barge has a liquid propane system that sends balls of fire, from 37 nozzles, 40 – 50 feet into the air and onto the surface of the lagoon. Up to 300 gallons of propane are used at each performance. When the park closes, after the show, any excess propane is blown out, causing a huge explosion. The inferno barge also houses a fireworks launching system.

The Disney Imagineers have developed a new way of launching fireworks by using compressed air. Previously they were launched using black powder, but the new system is more environmentally friendly and also means that the trail of the igniting firework shell cannot be seen. The compressed air technology also allows for the explosions to be times exactly with the music and for more control over the height of the shells. One thousand, one hundred and five shells are ignited during each show. They are launched from 750 mortar tubes, and 56 firing modules situated in at 34 locations around the lagoon.

There are four fountain barges with 40 nozzles on each barge. Each barge pumps about 4,000 gallons of water per minute during the performance.

In addition to the globe, the fireworks, the fountains and the inferno, there are lasers around the lagoon, which light the sky with a variety of colours.

The music was composed by Gavin Greenaway and was recorded with a 71 piece philharmonic orchestra and a 30 voice choir. The narrator at the beginning of the performance is Jim Cummings (the voice of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger to name but two).

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Page added on: 22 October 2006
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