Welcome to our series, 40 Days to 40 Years. In honor of the upcoming 40th Anniversary of Epcot, we are taking a retrospective look at the park’s past. Today, we are thrilled to feature a guest blogger who knows Epcot inside and out. Mark of Illuminating Epcot, shares his unique perspective of 1999.
If you were in Epcot in early 1999, you noticed that the park was prepping for something BIG. Construction and changes were going on all over. From outside of Spaceship Earth, back to World Showcase, this would lead into one of the best eras in Epcot’s history. The Millennium Celebration would move this park into the new century.
Epcot’s Millennium Celebration
The Millennium Celebration is hands down my favorite timeframe of Epcot’s lush history. Personally, it is something I look back on in some way or another daily. Once the stage was set for October 1, 1999, Epcot had taken on a totally new feel. The atmosphere was electric! Notably, there was a giant Sorcerer Mickey arm waving “2000” over Spaceship Earth. Innoventions was coming out of a refurb period, with some of the coolest exhibits to grace the halls of “The Road to Tomorrow”. Heading back into World Showcase, you got into the most impressive parts of the celebration!
The Millennium Village (located between the Canada and United Kingdom pavilions) featured 25 different countries. You were able to meet Cast Members from across the globe. Guests were able to get hands on with various exhibits and displays that were set up across the huge pavilion. Fittingly, this supported the original Epcot Center motif of “edutainment”.
Once night started to fall around World Showcase, two of the best shows at Epcot were not far off. The Millennium Celebration was headlined by the Tapestry of Nations and Illuminations 2000: Reflections of Earth! Both of these are two things that in my opinion are some of the best things to have ever been at Walt Disney World. This multipart parade through World Showcase that told the story of the Sage of Time. He visited the Earth for his Millennium Walk as he does every thousand years.
Tapestry of Nations
The parade would start at 3 different locations around the World Showcase Lagoon. It would give the impression that the Sage had begun at your location, walked around the world, and then would return to where he started at the end of the parade. Remarkably, no Disney characters were featured in the parade. Rather, the theme of the Tapestry of Nations was one of unity, peace and fellowship of mankind. Without question it was a HUGE hit.
Many people would love for Tapestry of Nations to return. Yes, even today in 2022! The soundtrack for Tapestry, as well as Reflections of Earth, was done by Gavin Greenaway. It simply remains 2 amazing pieces of music. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, was THE highlight to the Millennium Celebration. This 12-minute long show shows the history of the world. Starting with the big bang, the evolution of the planet, and mankind. The parade ends with an incredible celebration featuring an incredible fireworks display. And a nod to the future. Astoundingly, this show ran continuously until 2019!
A highlight, the Earth Globe was the big technological marvel. This was the first time an LED screen had taken the shape of the entire world. Impressively, throughout the show, HD images were displayed on it help tell the story. At the end, during “We Go On”, the globe opens and a 20th torch (there are 19 around World Showcase Lagoon) appears to signify the new century. Certainly, this show was quite popular with park guests.