I've been a big fan of the show ever since I saw Reflections of Earth in June 2003. This got my thinking...what was Illuminations aboutr before RoE? Was it any good? Can anyone explain what it was like, or does anyone perhaps have a video?
Different versions of the show had played before the current show which came on line in the fall 1999. In the begining, there was "Le Carnival du Lumiere", "A New World Fantasy", which then became "Laserphonic Fantasy" when lasers and a new soundtrack was added. Later on.. IllumiNations premiered which was similar to Laserphonic Fantasy but added the element of lights and color on the pavillions themselves. Things stayed pretty much the same for the most part for many years, with several versions of the basic IllumiNations shows.. there was a WDW 25th anniversary version which didn't last too long and changed with new music. A solemn Xmas version also played and the finale to that version was again added to the current ROE. Etc..etc..
For the most part, the older versions of Illuminations usually played in 3 acts... water fountain ballet, Illuminations act, then fireworks act. ROE changed all that by adding pyro from the beginning and adding the revolving Earth monitor and the fire barge which symbolises the big bang that created the universe...
That's as much as my experience with Epcot's nightshows go.
I started visiting Epcot during the first version of IllumiNations. It was sponsored by GE (We Bring Good Things to Light!), and I thought it was terrific! It started with a highlight of each nation, with gigantic spotlights pointing out each country as a recognizable song played (Funiculi-Funicula for Italy, a beer drinking waltz for Germany, etc.). This section finished with the incredible clarinet introduction to Rhapsody in Blue as the lights pointed to the America pavilion, and then the fountains and lasers started cooking. There was a globular centerpiece with rotating laser displays coming from inside, but it was nowhere near as cool as the current video screen globe. Still it was a well paced show with a good build to a fireworks filled ending. And one really cool thing - at the end of the show, as the walkout music was playing (a medley of the GE theme and other Disney themes like Small World - really well done), the main argon laser up in the rafters of the America pavilion projected the coolest revolving globe of the world directly onto the entire surface of Spaceship Earth! It was a neat moment when the walkout music came to an end and the laser globe dimished to one very bright green point, and then winked out as the music finished. Ahhh, chills!!!!
The next couple of versions, as TDLFAN said, were variations on this same thime, and in my opinion were not even close to the quality of the original. The pacing was off, the classical music used was more obscure - they just didn't have the feel and emotion of the first IllumiNations.
Of all the shows, I think the current one is by far the best. but that first IllumiNations holds many fond memories for me, & I'd kill to get video or audio of the whole thing!
has the show been around since Epcot first opened?
The first lagoon show "Le Carnival du Lumiere", premiered several months after EPCOT Center opened in either late 1982 or early 1983. It had dancing water fountains and floating screens where images were projected on them, plus fireworks. Small affair compared to the later versions of Illuminations. The problem with the show was that it had to be viewed from the north side of the lagoon because the screens only faced towards Future World (to the north). So most guests in the south side of the lagoon would hardly see anything. This show only lasted several months I believe.