IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth officially debuted on October 1, 1999. Previously called “IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth,” name change to “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” on January 1, 2001 following the close of the Walt Disney World 15-month Millennium Celebration. The unofficial opening for “IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth” took place on September 22, 1999. IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth was introduced at Epcot® for the Walt Disney World 15-month Millennium Celebration as an all new show. More than a simple update, the show was created from “scratch,” with more than 30 percent more fireworks than any prior show at Epcot.
The skies above World Showcase Lagoon transform into a kaleidoscope of colorful pyrotechnic bursts. Comets streak across the sky as video images displayed across a giant sphere tell Earth’s incredible tale. Then, the sphere blossoms like a flower, exposing a brilliant ball of fire and setting up the show’s emotional finale. Dreams of hope for a better tomorrow are cast as the music soars, lasers shoot skyward, fireworks illuminate the night and flames leap across the surface of the lagoon. This breathtaking new show
Time is a constant, but progress is exponential. From the beginning of what we know as Time up to the present, significant events come slowly at first, then faster and faster.
ACT 1 – CHAOS. A spontaneous explosion in space initiates a cosmic event that leads to the formation of stars, and the birth of planets. One of them is Earth.
“Life” Vegetation appears. Large creatures roam the terrain. A brief white flare-up symbolizes the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the beginning of new forms of life.
The animals shown all glance towards the camera – us – watching us as we watch them. A white horse gallops into frame and is “frozen” into a cave painting by the eyes of this new, clever creature; Man.
“Adventure” Man leaves the safety of his cave environment and sets out to explore the Earth. This is not about HOW we get around (“transportation”), but that we set out to do so (“exploration”)… a statement of the inherent curiosity of Man to reach out and see what Earth is about. It is the curiosity of man to discover that led to new forms of transportation. Exploration reveals the scenic wonders of the Earth, and Man settles far and wide, creating architectural and cultural monuments to new locations and ideas.
Man’s inherent creativity is further developed and expressed; through the arts and through technological development. The pace of advancement picks up, and soon the space shuttle launches skyward, bringing our story up to the present era.
We pause on the brink of a new Millennium to look back… where we have come from, what brought us here. From within the smoke clouds of the launch emerge memories of some of the beloved people of history, receding into the mists of time. The final “face” is that of an astronaut, who (reflected in his visor) sees the Earth in an important perspective: one place, home to all people.
“Home” With a swirl of special effects, the image on the Earth transitions and for the first time WE, the audience, see the globe as Earth with full geography instead of pictures. This is a suggestion that we should all try to share the same perspective as the astronaut. The Earth is everyone’s home.
“Celebration” Lasers and fireworks surround the entire Earth. The “Tapestry of Nations” puppets are depicted on the globe, dancing with the world as Act 2 concludes.
ACT 3 – MEANING We must “take the future in our hand” and make of it what we will. “1000 points of light” illuminate the entire audience, providing a chance for us to “look at ourselves.” Then, after a moments breath… we are catapulted into the future as a new acceleration begins with a final barrage of fireworks.
Executive Producer: John Haupt
Producers: Steve Zimmerman and Mark Nichols
Production Manager: Joe Kivett
Executive Music Producer: Steve Skorija
The show’s video segment, which is displayed on the “Earth Globe” located in the center of the World Showcase Lagoon, features 56 famous faces and covers 5 continents (screens).
The globe weighs 350,000 pounds (equivalent to the weight of 150 midsize cars).
The main structure of each petal consists of 4 inches of thick steel plate.
The hydraulic system is capable of producing 650,000 pounds of force.
The photos are from home video showing the transporting of the Earth Globe barge from Disney’s North Service Area to the Epcot Marina in June 1999.
The Earth Globe barge (sans Earth) passes the Disney Car Care Center on its way to Epcot. The main barge was assembled at Disney’s North Service Area and the Earth structure added after being moved to the Epcot Marina. A special multi-axle truck was needed to move the barge due to its weight of nearly 350,000 pounds.
LISTEN (13:04) to Oliver Peters interviewed by his wife and Orlando Public Library staff member, Kim Peters, in May 2011.
Oliver Peters worked for Century III Teleproductions from 1985 until he left in 2002 to form his own company. Over the course of seventeen years, Oliver held the positions of videotape editor, project manager and operations manager. CIII was first located in the old Bee Jay Recording Studios on Eggleston Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, but relocated in 1989 to Universal Studios after being selected from many production houses to be the post production facility on the back lot at Universal Studios. During this time period, Orlando garnered the name “Hollywood East” due to the filming/taping and post production of films and television series in the Central Florida area. His web site is www.OliverPeters.com
ABOVE: Individuals who played roles in the creation of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Millennium reunited at EPCOT on September 30, 2009, for a 10 year reunion of the premiere of Reflections of Earth on September 30, 1999. This is the group photo of all those present.
To the dismay of all who have been touched by Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, the final performance was on September 30, 2019. Thirty eight members of the team who created and produced this spectacular nightly event gathered one last time to watch the final showing together.
Back Row: Martin Collins, David Connelly, Norm Lesmerises, Rich Taylor, Jerold Kaplan, Doug Dixon, Scott Stephan, Jay Neal, Steve Felder, Frank Alberson, Steve Eckwielen, Bill Wiedefeld, David Hynds, Brian Evans.
Middle Row: Tamara Frost, Ed Glowacki, Joe Kivett, Kyle Poor, Syme Jago, John Haupt, Eric Tucker, Gavin Greenaway, Don Dorsey, Steve Skorija, Phil Baker, Oliver Peters, Laurie Padden Jordan, Bettina Buckley, Ron Logan.
Front Row: Bernie Durgin, Kellie Coffey, Jimmy Wallace, Craig Jenest, Steve Zimmerman, Craig Stickler, Kenneth Montgomery, Lori LaFrance, David Stephens.
Left to right: Don Dorsey (Dorsey Productions, Inc.), Frank and Diane Alberson, Oliver Peters, Allison and Ken Montgomery, Craig Stickler.
One of the most touching aspects of Reflections of Earth is the song, “Promise,” lyrics by Don Dorsey, music by Gavin Greenaway, sung by Kellie Coffey. This song spoke to the future of our world as we began “another thousand circles round the sun” in the new Millennium. It immediately found it’s way into wedding ceremonies and the hearts of all who heard it in the stillness of the night at EPCOT. A copy of the sheet music was signed by all those who worked on the production gathering together for the last time at the 2019 reunion.
The finale of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at the last showing, September 30, 1999, as viewed by the individuals who gathered for the 20th reunion of the creation of this amazing production.
Images provided by Don Dorsey Productions and Oliver Peters.
Oliver Peters worked for Century III Teleproductions from 1985 until he left in 2002 to form his own company. Over the course of seventeen years, Oliver held the positions of videotape editor, project manager and operations manager. CIII was first located in the old Bee Jay Recording Studios on Eggleston Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, but relocated in 1989 to Universal Studios after being selected from many production houses to be the post production facility on the back lot at Universal Studios. During this time period, Orlando garnered the name "Hollywood East" due to the filming/taping and post production of films and television series in the Central Florida area. His web site is www.OliverPeters.com
Oliver is currently involved in production and post production of commercial and corporate projects; he is a writer for Videography and other industry magazines in print and online; he is a presenter at conventions around the country; a guest instructor at Valencia State College and Full Sail, and he shares his knowledge of editing systems and techniques as a consultant to television stations and production houses around the country. His web site is www.OliverPeters.com
The interviewer is his wife and Orlando Public Library staff member, Kim Peters.