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More Details About Walt Disney World’s Upcoming Nighttime Spectaculars Revealed

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Most people enjoy Walt Disney World. Everyone enjoys Disney’s nighttime spectaculars. Now Disney is giving their fans more to love with four new nighttime shows debuting over the next few months and years.

The new nighttime lineup from the Disney Parks Live Entertainment team includes:

  • “Wonderful World of Animation” projection and laser show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • “Awakenings: Lion King” projection show on the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • “Epcot Forever” at Epcot
  • New Illuminations nighttime spectacular at Epcot

The new spectaculars will join an amazing lineup of nighttime spectaculars that include:

  • “Happily Ever After” fireworks and “Once Upon a Time” projection show at the Magic Kingdom
  • Star Wars fireworks, “Fantasmic” water show and “Disney Movie Magic” projection show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • “Rivers of Light” water show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

‘Wonderful World of Animation’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The new “Wonderful World of Animation” laser and projection show debuts on May 1 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as part of the theme park’s 30th anniversary celebration.

“It will be a catalog looking through the wonderful feature animation from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios,” said Ray Coble with Disney Parks Live Entertainment.

The nighttime projection show uses state-of-the-art lighting technology to paint moving images on the Chinese Theatre that will soon house Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The show takes viewers on a panoramic visual journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation.

“It tugs at the heartstrings from romance to adventure,” said Coble during an interview at Disney Hollywood Studios.

Concept art for the “Wonderful World of Animation” shows Grauman’s Chinese Theatre decked out for “Mickey’s Gala Premiere,” an early 1930s cartoon short set at the famed theatre.

Wonderful World of Animation, Disney Hollywood Studios

The movies span the history of Disney and Pixar animation, including:

  • “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
  • “Sleeping Beauty”
  • “Little Mermaid”
  • “Beauty and the Beast”
  • “Aladdin”
  • “Hercules”
  • “Emperor’s New Groove”
  • “Lilo & Stitch”
  • “Finding Nemo”
  • “The Incredibles”
  • “Cars”
  • “Wreck-It Ralph”
  • “Frozen”
  • “Big Hero 6”
  • “Zootopia”
  • “Moana”
  • “Coco”

In addition to those movies, the 12-minute show will include moments from every animated feature film ever released by Disney and Pixar.

“It is a feat,” said Coble, who serves as managing producer on the new show.

“A new soundtrack is about to be recorded for “Wonderful World of Animation,” Coble said. The idea is that the show will evolve with each new feature Disney and Pixar release.

“We’re going to stay relevant with this production,” Coble said. “We can insert new content as we go along so it’s always fresh.”

“Wonderful World of Animation” won’t replace the current “Disney Movie Magic” or “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.” In fact, depending on park hours, all three shows will play each night.

Tree of Life ‘Awakenings: Lion King’

The new Tree of Life “Awakenings” projection show will pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of “The Lion King.” It’ll debut in late May at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Tree of Life Awakenings Lion King Disney Animal Kingdom

“Magical things emerge from within the tree,” Slater said. “The animals that you see on the tree come to life. Consequently, it gives the appearance that this just happens; that this comes out of nature.”

Four nighttime “Awakenings” shows are already playing on the Tree of Life. They include “Gift Giver,” the story of a fox who delivers presents throughout the forest to other animals. Another show celebrates a hummingbird love story. Other shows touch on tales from “Avatar,” “Finding Nemo,” “Pocahontas” and “Jungle Book.”

The new “Awakenings: Lion King” show will feature animated animals, thematic imagery and an original musical score inspired by the Academy Award-winning 1994 animated film.

“You’ll see visual highlights of Simba’s journey,” Slater said. “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.”

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also home to the “Festival of the Lion King” in-the-round show and the new “Hakuna Matata Time” dance party.

animal kingdom lion king Walt Disney World Nighttime entertainment

“‘Lion King’ has been part of the DNA of the park since it opened,” Slater said. “The movie came out in 1994 and we opened Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998. It was a huge influence on getting the place built.”

The four-minute “Awakenings: Lion King” projection show will run nightly from Memorial Day Weekend through Sept. 30. The “Awakenings: Lion King” show will play multiple times after dark along with the other four Awakenings shows until the park closes each night.

‘Epcot Forever’

The original “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” will close in fall 2019.

The new “Epcot Forever” nighttime spectacular begins a limited-time run immediately after the original “Illuminations” takes a farewell bow in the fall. “Epcot Forever” celebrates the history of the park with fireworks, lasers and lighting effects set to a soundtrack of classic Epcot songs. Here’s hoping for Universe of Energy!

“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,” Coble said of the new “Epcot Forever” nighttime spectacular.

The show will include special effects-enabled kites capable of airborne choreography – a first for an Epcot nighttime show. The illuminated kites will be controlled by two-man teams aboard Jet Ski-like personal watercraft. The show will employ eight of the Jet Skis, with a driver and kite performer aboard each personal watercraft.

Music for the new show will feature songs from former and current Epcot attractions. “Epcot Forever” is expected to include the song “One Little Spark” from the Journey into Imagination attraction. It will also include “Magic Journeys” from the 3D film of the same name. In addition, the soundtrack for the pyrotechnic show is now in production, Coble said.

“The pyro is the star,” said Coble, who serves as managing producer on the new show. “We need to make sure the music we’re creating will complement the payoff that our guests will be seeing.”

Illuminations 2020

New Illuminations nighttime spectacular at Epcot Concept Art

A new Illuminations show set to debut in 2020 will celebrate how Disney music inspires people around the globe. The fireworks and laser show will feature massive floating set pieces, LED panels and choreographed fountain displays.

“This next show that we’re bringing on as part of this overall transformation at Epcotthat’s going on is really on a massive scale like we’ve never done,” Slater said of the upcoming show. “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.”

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