There’s a lot on the horizon when it comes to nighttime shows at Walt Disney World, and thanks to a recent article from Blooloop we now know a lot more about what we can expect to see. The interviews in this article provide some notable scoops about upcoming shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.
Beginning with Hollywood Studios, on May 1 the new laser light and projection show “Wonderful World of Animation” will debut in celebration of the park’s 30th anniversary. While knowledge on the existence of this show is nothing new, what we have learned is that the show will have a 12 minute runtime and feature nods to every single animated Disney and Pixar movie spanning from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Ralph Breaks the Internet. That’s a lot of history for 12 minutes!
According to Ray Coble of Disney Parks Live Entertainment, “A new soundtrack is about to be recorded for “Wonderful World of Animation.” Additionally, the team hopes to be able to add new Disney and Pixar films to the show as they release in theaters. “We’re going to stay relevant with this production. We can insert new content as we go along so it’s always fresh,” said Coble.
The best part is that, despite initial expectations, “Wonderful World of Animation” won’t be replacing “Disney Movie Magic” or “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.” Rather, it will just be added to the park’s slate of nighttime shows. Depending on park hours, all three shows could play on a given night.
Moving over to Animal Kingdom, beginning on Memorial Day Weekend is a new version of Tree of Life Awakenings that will pay tribute to 25 years of The Lion King. This new show, called “Awakenings: Lion King” will project animated animals onto the Tree of Life and feature an original musical score inspired by the classic 1994 animated movie.
“You’ll see visual highlights of Simba’s journey,” said Shawn Slater of Disney Parks Live Entertainment. “All of those moments from being born and presented to going off to live with Timon and Pumba to finding Nala again and taking his rightful place as the king. All of those little beats will play out visually.”
Of course “Awakenings: Lion King” is a marketing tie-in with the upcoming live action remake of The Lion King, hitting theaters on July 19. Animal Kingdom is also promoting the film’s release with “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party,” which debuted earlier this year.
“Awakenings: Lion King” will have a four-minute showtime and will take place multiple times a day, along with the other currently running “Awakenings” shows. The show begins on Memorial Day Weekend and will conclude on September 30.
And then there was Epcot…
By now everyone knows that the long-running, much beloved “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” will be coming to an end in late summer, but we now have more information about the two shows that will be replacing it. The new “Epcot Forever” nighttime spectacular will begin its limited-time run immediately after “Illuminations” ends. “Epcot Forever” celebrates the 37 year history of Epcot with fireworks, laser and lighting effects and a soundtrack of classic Epcot songs. “We’re going to look back a little bit. We’re going to celebrate in the moment and we’re going to advance to the future of Epcot,” said Coble.
The show will include “special effects-enabled kites capable of airborne choreography,” which is something never seen before in a nighttime show. The illuminated kites will be controlled via two-man teams riding personal watercraft vehicles like Jet Skis. The movement from the watercraft vehicles will generate the wind necessary to keep the kites afloat in the sky. The soundtrack will feature Epcot favorites of past and present, with songs like “One Little Spark” and “Magic Journeys.” The soundtrack is currently in production. “The pyro is the star. We need to make sure the music we’re creating will complement the payoff that our guests will be seeing,” said Coble, who is the managing producer on “Epcot Forever.”
After “Epcot Forever” ends its limited-time run a new “Illuminations” show will debut as the park’s permanent nighttime show sometime in 2020. The story of this new show will celebrate how Disney music inspires people around the world. Massive floating set pieces will accompany this new fireworks and laser light show, complete with LED panels and choreographed fountain displays. The yet-to-be-named 2020 show will raise the bar for Disney nighttime spectaculars, according to Slater. The team is looking to answer the challenging question: “What can we do to really blow people away?”
“This next show that we’re bringing on as part of this overall transformation at Epcot that’s going on is really on a massive scale like we’ve never done,” said Slater. “Just immense floating set pieces, fireworks, LED panels that are huge, other special effects and lasers. The big, floating set pieces will also have fountains on board that do different choreographed things. It’s amazing.”
Fans that won’t be able to make it back to Epcot before the final performance of “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” can tune into the Disney Parks livestream taking place next week.
Clearly there’s a lot to look forward to in the near future. Which show has you most intrigued?