LAKE BUENA VISTA — As Epcot proceeds with a huge transformation of the front half of the theme park, a new nighttime fireworks show called “Epcot Forever” debuted on Tuesday night. It features theme songs from past attractions, a voiceover by Walt Disney himself and special-effects kites that light up and emit pyrotechnics as they fly across the lagoon.
The 11-minute show, which we checked out during the opening, replaces the award-winning “IllumiNations” that ended its 20-year run Monday. The new show is a temporary one, taking up the nighttime slot before the park unveils “HarmoniUS,” a high-tech show Disney has promised will be “the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.” It’s set to launch sometime next year.
“Epcot Forever” plays a medley of songs longtime Epcot fans will recognize, such as One Little Spark from Journey Into Imagination and the theme from the Soarin’ ride. Water scooters roar across the lagoon, pulling six sets of lit-up kites that change colors in time with the music and, at one point, spew a trail of sparks.
In addition to the nostalgic songs, there are voices of children singing and an audio clip of Walt Disney when he introduced his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow concept to television viewers in the 1960s.
Among the final songs is A Whole New World from the movie Aladdin, a clear reference to the transformation underway at Epcot.
The park is getting a major overhaul in the next two years, including a new roller coaster based on Guardians of the Galaxy, a ride with a Ratatouille theme and attractions inspired by Moana and Mary Poppins. The front entrance to the park is scoring its own big makeover.
Amid the many changes coming, the park also opened a new exhibit on Tuesday — the Epcot Experience — in the Odyssey Events Pavilion near Test Track and the Mexico pavilion. This space features a huge tabletop model of Epcot with projection-mapping technology and changing colors highlighting elements of the model. A 360-degree film along the walls shows upcoming attractions, too.
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