Walt Disney World (FL)

Five Surprising Elements in Epcot Forever

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We Disney fans have had some time to process our thoughts on Epcot Forever, and there are varying views on this temporary show. There are some surprising elements incorporated throughout. Despite its name, Epcot Forever isn’t going to last forever. It feels more substantial than what I imagined a temporary show would offer, but any Epcot fan can tell it is indeed temporary and in fact, an attempt at a grief coping mechanism for the loss of Epcot’s true vision. It’s enjoyable, not spectacular, and surprised me in many ways.

Children as Narrators

Gone is the mystic voice of late actor Russel Means. Now we have children welcoming us over the park’s audio and singing throughout the show. It immediately felt like Magic Kingdom meets Epcot, which is perhaps where the park is headed. It is unexpected for the park that many consider to be “for the adults” and I suppose that might be the idea. The more I watch “Epcot Forever” the more it feels like Epcot’s version of “Wishes” (the previous version of Magic Kingdom’s fireworks). I have found myself holding back from singing along in my best high-pitched voice “And all our wishessssss, will come truuuuue.”

There are plenty of great views of Wishes that do not require you to use a FastPass
“Epcot Forever” got me like “Wishes, is that you?”

That Walt Disney Audio Clip

The moment I heard the audio clip of Walt Disney talking about Epcot, I felt delight, immediately followed by anger. It reminded me, and many others, of Disneyland’s “Remember Dreams Come True” fireworks show. Except in that case the fireworks show wasn’t marking the death of the park’s original vision and the ushering in of a new era. It’s the first time that I can recall a Walt Disney World nighttime spectacular acting as a tribute to the theme park itself (aside from special and private events).

As much as I get emotional whenever Walt Disney audio or video clips are plugged into Disney attractions or shows, it feels odd in Epcot Forever. Walt’s voice proudly announces the innovative world of EPCOT, in a show that is a band aid made to bridge the gap between what was left of Epcot’s original vision and what will become the Disney character filled Epcot of tomorrow.

Old-School Epcot Music

In the advertising leading to its debut, it was clear that Epcot Forever would pull on the heartstrings of those that experienced Epcot in the 80s and 90s. We are generally the most die-hard of Epcot fans because we experienced the park in its mostly original state, and what will most likely be the era at which the park was held closest to its original vision.

I wasn’t prepared for just how much old school Epcot music is in Epcot Forever. The hits just keep on coming. This show reminded me just how many songs once filled Epcot. Practically every attraction had its own song. So perhaps the way EPCOT Center showcased the wonders of the world aided by a symphony of music is a similar way that Disney characters will be the aid in the new version of Epcot. The music features re-recorded and somewhat modernized versions of the songs with new vocal performers and an orchestra. This mashup in itself makes Epcot Forever worth a watch.

For those needing a little help recognizing the music in the show, here is a breakdown of each song featured in the show and what attraction it hails from.


In order of appearance:

  • Epcot Main Entrance Loop weaves throughout the show
  • “One Little Spark” from the original Journey Into Imagination attraction circa 1983
  • “We’ve Just Begun to Dream” from EPCOT Center original music circa 1982
  • “New Horizons (If We Can Dream It)” from Horizons attraction circa 1983
  • “Universe of Energy” from the original Universe of Energy attraction circa 1982
  • “Listen to the Land” from the original Listen to the Land attraction circa 1982, now the Living with the Land attraction (instrumental with a “New Horizons” reprise)
  • “Soarin’” instrumental score from the original Soarin’ circa 2005
  • “Magic Journeys” from Magic Journeys attraction circa 1982 
  • “Tomorrow”s Child” from the Spaceship Earth attraction circa 1986
  • “One Little Spark” reprise (final of the song)
  • “Making Memories” from Magic Journeys attraction pre-show circa 1982
  • “Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit” from Kitchen Kabaret attraction circa 1982
  • “It’s Fun to be Free” from World of Motion attraction circa 1982
  • “Tapestry of Nations” (the meyla weyla song) from Tapestry of Nations parade and IllumiNations:Reflections of Earth circa 1999
  • “Golden Dreams” from American Adventure circa 1982, though the version of the song is from the 1993 update
  • “Celebrate the Future” from Epcot’s Millennium Celebration circa 1999 
  • “One Little Spark” reprise followed by…. 
  • “A Whole New World” from the motion picture “Aladdin” 

A Whole New World 

The use of “A Whole New World” as the finale feels…. off. And yet, it makes sense in that Epcot Forever is meant to wean us off of the last remaining scraps of original Epcot and prepare us for the Walt Disney Pictures Presents Epcot era of Disney characters at every attraction. 

A screen capture from the motion picture Aladdin showing the character of Aladdin and his monkey companion named Abu looking in awe as part of a crowd in a marketplace.

Why is this such a big deal for so many of us? Well for me, it’s because I believe the original EPCOT Center showcased how amazing science is and what the future could be, without resorting to cheap 3-D tricks, I mean, without resorting to Disney characters. It was intrinsic. And that made it all the more rewarding. Plus, the Aladdin characters being shoehorned into Morocco has long been a point of contention for me because Aladdin takes place in the fictional world of Agrabah, not the actual world of Morocco. 

In the end we fans have to accept that Walt Disney World is bigger than us. The vast majority of guests, don’t much care about original Epcot. I don’t necessarily agree with the new direction of Epcot, but from my experience of working in the park, most guests are probably going to enjoy new Epcot more. 

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth Elements

I don’t believe many people assumed the beloved torches around World Showcase lagoon would be incorporated. Then again, it’s not like they disappeared overnight – though maybe cast members should keep an eye out at Property Control in the future? When the torches come on and that meyla weyla chant follows, goosebumps cover my arms.  

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me is the use of the shooting star cannons in the finale that were a staple of the finale of IllumiNations. This effect is one of the most impactful so it is good to see it live on, for now, in Epcot Forever. And yet, upon watching the show a few times now it almost feels like original Epcot gasping for one last breath of air before it is gone, forever. 

Were there aspects of Epcot Forever that you found surprising? Do you think the show will grow on you over time, or were you a big fan from the start? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

8 thoughts on “Five Surprising Elements in Epcot Forever

  • I agree with the commenter who loved the original IllumiNations. I was 12 when it debuted. It was magical. I think part of what made it so special was how elusive it was. No matter where you watched from, you could never get the perfect view. My family tried hard, over many years. We always used to say that we wished they’d release a home video, which they never did. But I realize now that even that wouldn’t be able to capture the feeling of being there in the middle of the lights and lasers, the music and fireworks and tens of thousands of people under the Orlando summer sky.

  • Not sure what disney was thinking putting the big ugly stage for festival of arts in front next to the river where best spot to see the show. (Fastpass area) which makes every where else better to see the show. This does not make any sense.

  • It feels like the Whole New World bit was Disney saying, “Look EPCOT nerds, we met you halfway with those songs, but you’d better remember that Disney parks are run by the Princesses.”

  • This was basically my assessment, too; pretty much what I texted my daughter, who works at Test Track, after watching the debut live-streamed. The only thing I would offer is that what is referred here to as Epcot’s “original vision” bears little resemblance to anything Walt actually envisioned Epcot to be. Point being, I’ll miss IllumiNations and hope whatever the new permanent show will be will be as memorable and endearing as IllumiNations, but as Walt said, Epcot will never be finished, so here’s to everything we loved about Epcot and to all it will be – pretty much what Epcot Forever is trying to say.

  • I for one loved the new show, I watched the first three nights live in the park and each time was filled with a sense of excitement and joy. I have three young children at home, and we are definitely not an IP family. We don’t buy branded merch (clothing, toys, etc), however we love watching Disney movies together and listening (and singing and dancing) to the music. Why? Because it’s such great story telling! And if you watch and rewatch and think and talk about these stories there is so much depth to them it’s an amazing window into, well, a whole new world! Can adding IP into Epcot be tacky, sure, but it can also make things accessable. If children (and adults) can feel awe and be swepted into an experience, that ‘little spark’ will carry on with them well past their visit at the park. I think this new show achieves this. One night during the kites portion of the show I overheard a young boy saying, ‘wow, I want that job!’. To me those are the experiences that can inspire children for a life time. I for one am excited about the future of Epcot.

  • Right there with you re: missing Epcot Center’s original mission and glory decades. I’d give anything to see General Knowledge & Buzzy again. I still remember meeting Dreamfinder. Sigh.
    And right there (for a rare change) with the bean counters who know that stuff got old fast, that stuff would bore to tears today’s children (let alone tomorrow’s child, pun intended). What makes me sad—and angry—with the short-sighted bean counters is the unwillingness to even try to update the park’s original mission.
    It’s why I haven’t been back in a decade after going several times a year without ever once feeling bored.

  • I liked the countries outlined in lights with the big spotlights on the roof like the original Illuminations. Flet like it opened with the first version and ended with the last. I would have loved if they had done that original concept and gave us the opening of Rhapsody in Blue with the spots all going to America. That always gave me chills back in the day.

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