Every night, and I do mean every night, the Walt Disney World Resort puts on two firework shows that light up the sky over Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The each have their merits, but one is most definitely better than the other, and it’s not even close. The nightly Disney firework “spectaculars” are a nightly ritual steeped in tradition and childhood memory. They spark an emotional and visceral reaction in guests just by the mere utterance of the words. Magic Kingdom’s show, Wishes, takes place at around 8pm each and every night (supposedly so the kids can get to bed a bit earlier?), and Epcot’s Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, goes off at around the stroke of 9pm.
Wishes is the opening act for the superior Illuminations, so to speak, let’s get into the reasons why that is… For one, Wishes is a Disney show with Disney characters and Disney music to create a sense of familiarity for the vast audience of children in attendance. The show is constructed in a way that makes it instantly relatable to the little tikes that have been carrying around their Aladdin plush toys all day. Not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, it’s one of the single most brilliant shows of all time due to the fact that it knows exactly what it needs to be. Illuminations is a show for everyone. Think about it: the announcer comes on with his commanding and resonating voice, telling us that “we all have our own stories to tell”, then he blows out all the torches around the World Showcase Lagoon, and things get epic. From the blasts of fire and pyrotechnics off the water to the stunning finale, the show has it all.
For me though, it’s more about experience and emotion, my family has at one point or another, experienced just about every major life event at Epcot, and it always ends with their firework display. When I’m there watching the show, it takes me back to some of my most cherished memories with my family, including birthdays and marriage proposals. It has the same potential to be special for everyone, and to that end, and you might want to sit down for this one, I think Illuminations is a better post marriage proposal celebration show. The fact that you can have a champagne toast at Epcot to celebrate makes it the better proposal site too but that’s a blog for a different day.
Epcot’s show can be anything to anyone, not to say that Wishes can’t be, but it is pigeonholed into following certain rules that Illuminations is not required to abide by. As that video globe revolves around the lagoon, and again going back to the theme of universal inclusion, everyone in attendance is given time to reflect on great vacations of the past, personal triumphs, and of course, special occasions.
I’ve said my piece, both shows are tremendous, but Illuminations is just so special for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that you can watch it from several more vantage points, along with the gorgeous aesthetic World Showcase puts off at night. Illuminations is perfect for a first date, a party, a reunion, or even to finish off an “Around the World” pub crawl. But the most important question is this: What does it all mean to you?