Thursday, February 27, 2020

#tbt Saying Goodbye to IllumiNations

Today, I'm kicking off my #tbt posts by saying my final goodbye to IllumiNations.  I had started writing this post months ago with the intent to post it the day of IllumiNations final show, but I never got a chance to finish it.  It's been about five months since we said goodbye to the nighttime show as Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth took it's final curtain call back on September 30th.  It was the end of another era, especially since this show has been running for the past 20 years.

I remember when I first saw this version of the show back during the WDW Millennial Celebration and being completed dazzled by it.  The fireworks, water fountains, fire effects, lasers and sparkling lights on the pavilions mesmerized me.  As soon as I saw the show, I purchased the soundtrack and I've been hooked ever since.  (I was also a hug fan of the Tapestry of Nations Parade... but that's another story for another day.)

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth meant so much to me.  Through the years, I've seen it with so many people... not just my immediate family.  I always said that it was my favorite of the nighttime Disney shows, but I think that was primarily because I'm very sentimental and it held so many memories for me.

There was the first trip I went to Walt Disney World without my parents in December of 2006 when I was 22.  My best friend Katie and I went down for a week over our college winter break.  I remember sitting on the edge of the Italy Pavilion and putting my clunky digital camera on the cement under the fence so I could take some good photos of the show in focus.  I remember being so excited to get those pictures!  (Now, the quality probably looks horrendous compared to my phone but back then it was incredible!)

Then, the following year, I went to Walt Disney World with my parents, Jeremy, Nana, Papa and my good friend Justin who had never been before.  Justin and I stood in the same spot in the Italy Pavilion.  Unfortunately, that particular time we were in the direct line of the firework smoke and I ended up with debris in my eyes.  It wasn't the best memory of IllumiNations, but I look back at it now and chuckle.

Of course, through the years I saw it many times with Eliot, Mom, Dad, Jeremy, Nana and Papa.  I took Eliot to see it for the first time during our trip in 2008/2009.  Then, in turn we've taken his family members to their first times seeing it.

My favorite memory of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth was from our wedding.  We had a Dessert Party in the French Pavilion at the Terrace des Fleurs and brought 40 guests with us- many who had never seen the show before.  During the show, Eliot and I had our photos taken with the fireworks in the background.  I absolutely love how they came out.  The best part was that we also have full professional video footage of the show on our wedding video.  I will always cherish those memories.

Now that the show is gone for good, the thing that I miss most is perhaps the most sentimental.  There was a song called "Promise" that was always played immediately after the show finished.  While most people were starting to make their way out of the World Showcase, Eliot and I always stayed.  Promise was our first dance song at our wedding.  After the show ended on our wedding night, we had a second impromptu first dance right there at the side of the Terrace des Fleurs.  Every time we saw the show after that, Eliot always took me in his arms and we danced to it.

It was really hard the last time Eliot and I saw the show together back in February of last year.  I made it through most of the show, but towards the end, the tears came.  I also cried during "Promise" and "Tapestry of Nations" since I wasn't sure if I'd ever see it again.  But I knew it was likely the last time I'd see IllumiNations with Eliot.

I saw it twice on my solo trip to WDW in September.  I took a few pictures when I went to see it before my Disney Cruise and I'm glad that I had a chance to see it one more time after the cruise.  I feel like I gave it a good send off as I soaked in my last show fully immersed in the experience of it.  Afterwards, I stood at the side of the World Showcase listening to Promise watching the lights from the pavilions dance on the water.  It was nice to quietly reflect on all of the times I've seen it through the years.

As with many other things, Disney is always changing and building for the future.  All is not lost.  Eliot and I will always have these memories.  We can watch the video from our wedding.  I can enjoy our photos with the fireworks.  And most sentimental to me, I'll always have the lyrics to Promise that Eliot had engraved on the inside of the band of my engagement ring saying "A new life has begun, when two of us are one."

Farewell IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  Thank you for many years of magic, entertainment, enjoyment and memories.  "We go on."  °o°

1 comment: