Time FrameLate 2018 / Early 2019
Rumor StatusIn Development
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is expected to receive updates or a new show entirely. No definitive time table has been set, but rumors point to late 2018 / early 2019.
Possible changes included the use of drone technology as part of a new show. The drones could also operate machines Disney refers to as "Flixels" that could include large puppets or projection screens.
February 27, 2017: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that the replacement to Illuminations is expected to debut in late 2018 / early 2019.
February 1, 2017: On Episode 120 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Disn Podcast with Jim Hill, Jim mentioned the, "50th Anniversary version of Illuminations". This was part of a discussion about the Caribbean Beach expansion so no additional details were given.
November 14, 2016: Orlando Attractions Magazine posted a preview video of the new show.
November 7, 2016: The Disney Parks Blog shared a teaser video of a new show coming to Disney Springs. The holiday show appears to feature the drone technology that Disney is rumored to also be considering for Epcot and Seven Seas Lagoon.
November 4, 2016: Disney filed a petition with the FAA on October 30, 2015 to operate small unmanned drones in a specific area (Walt Disney World). The petition has gained approval by the United States Department of Transportation as outlined in the following paragraph:
The FAA’s Flight Standards Service has reviewed your application to ensure compliance with the requirements of 14 CFR 107.200. The Administrator finds that the proposed sUAS operation can be conducted safely under the provisions of this Certificate of Waiver (Waiver) as listed below, because you have established adequate mitigations for risks involved with operating your sUAS in the manner you described. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc.’s application details the specifics of the company’s risk mitigations based on their prior flight testing, technology, operational history, and flight experience with these unique sUA and specific operations. This data ensures that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc.’s remote pilots in command and visual observers will always be able to see and scan the airspace encompassing the sUA operational area and assure safety of those not directly participating in the operation. Adherence to the provisions of this Waiver establishes the required level of safety within the national airspace system.
WDWMagic.com user marni1971 is reporting that this technology is expected to be used in the upcoming incarnation of Illuminations.
The assumption is that Disney will use these vehicles in conjunction with a patent filed on August 2, 2016 for "Projection assemblies for use with unmanned aerial vehicles".
August 29, 2016: WDWMagic.com user marni1971 summarized all of the various proposals for Epcot's Future World. These included:
- Guardians of the Galaxy inspired ride coming to Universe of Energy
- More eating options in Future World
- Innoventions mostly gutted and re-purposed. New interior layouts. Possible expansion here and there.
- New landscaping, place making and "feel" to Future World central spine - the area from the entrance, around Spaceship Earth, through the fountain area and out towards showcase.
- Proposals for The Land and Imagination, with nothing confirmed nor budgeted for as of yet. Proposals for additions and updates at various places around Showcase.
- Proposed new night time lagoon show in 2-3 years time.
August 2, 2016: Disney has filed a patent for "Projection assemblies for use with unmanned aerial vehicles".
January 15, 2016: On Episode 95 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast with Jim Hill, Jim mentions that the drone technology has been tested for Epcot, but also potentially for the Seven Seas Lagoon. Len Testa also referenced that a replacement for Illuminations has been in development for over a year.
January 8, 2016: Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel has reported that Disney has asked the FAA for permission to use drone technology they refer to as "Flixels".
January 1, 2016: On Episode 94 of The Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish with Jim Hill, Jim mentions that the drone technology originally rumored for Illuminations enhancements are now being considered for a new show on Seven Seas Lagoon that will be part of Disney World's 50th anniversary.
July 12, 2015: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 has reported that a new Illuminations show will be in place before Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary (2021).
June 15, 2015: On Episode #81 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish with Jim Hill, Jim mentions that additional developments are coming to Illuminations. This would involve drones used as part of the show and potentially the patent filed in August 2014.
April 9, 2015: On Episode #79 of The Disney Nerds Podcast, Jim Hill has said that the Jerry Rees "mystery project" is Soarin'.
April 2, 2015: WDWNT.com has reported that Jerry Rees has updated his website to indicate that the mystery project he is working on. The project is described as, "Mystery Attraction” / EPCOT -Next-gen larger-than-life interactive spectacle. Premiere planned for late 2015 or early 2016."
December 9, 2014: AboutWorldDisneyWorld.com has issued a press release discussing the new environmentally friendly lasers being used during Illuminations.
November 14, 2014: WDWMagic.com user danlb_2000 has reported that a Notice of Commencement has been filed for a, "Communication System" that extends from behind the Japan Pavilion, across World Showcase hitting the three islands, and ending backstage behind the Norway Pavilion. The assumption is that this Notice of Commencement is related to Illuminations updates.
November 13, 2014: WDWMagic.com user marni71 has confirmed that the laser updates are underway and will hopefully be completed in the next week.
October 26, 2014: At a TouringPlans sponsored event in New Jersey as well as on the TouringPlans Twitter feed, Jim Hill reported that an Illuminations replacement would be coming within two years.
August 12, 2014: WDWMagic.com user marni71 has confirmed that the lasers used in Illuminations: Reflections of Earth will be updated before the end of the year. He also indicated that additional updates are also expected.
August 10, 2014: On Episode 62 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill, he mentioned that Steve Davidson (World of Color, Festival of Fantasy Parade) is working on updates to Illuminations that could debut as soon as 18 months from now.
August 4, 2013: wdw71fan has posted on WDWMagic.com that an update that a budget of $23.6 million is planned for enhancements to Reflections of Earth and a replacement for Wishes. The enhancements/new shows would include the next generation of the projection technology that has previously been used on Cinderella's Castle for multiple shows.
July 25, 2013: OrlandoParkNews.com has posted a rumor about changes coming to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. The rumors are based on site balloon tests that were recently conducted.
March 9, 2013: On Episode 225 of The Season Pass Podcast, Imagineer Jerry Rees mentioned he was working on a mystery project at Epcot. It is expected that this is either the Soarin' project or updates to Illuminations.