Our Top 10 Tips For Viewing Epcot’s IllumiNations


There’s nothing quite like it. Epcot’s IllumiNations is a feast for the eyes with fireworks, lasers, pyrotechnics, music, and more. Here are our top ten tips to get the most out of the show:

10. Check the Time – More often than not IllumiNations will begin at 9:00pm sharp. However, during the holiday season, IllumiNations may be pushed back to 9:30 on certain nights due to the Candlelight Processional.

9. Consider Fast Pass – You can reserve Fast Passes for IllumiNations if you’d like. Your Fast Pass will gain you access to a large platform straight out from the main Future World corridor, right on the water. It is a great viewing spot! But there are other great spots too, so I personally wouldn’t give up a Test Track Fast Pass for it or anything. The main advantage of this Fast Pass is the fact that you know where you’ll be sitting, so you don’t have to stake out a spot quite as early. Also, if you’re a photographer, you will get great symmetrical shots from this location, so a Fast Pass may be worth it for you.

8. Start Early – If you don’t have a Fast Pass and the park is busy, I would definitely recommend finding your spot well before the show. An announcer will give you several warnings before IllumiNations begins so you’ll be well prepared. Don’t panic though; it’s not like you won’t see the show if you aren’t seated 45 minutes before – you just may not have THE BEST spot, that’s all. We plant ourselves about 20 minutes before showtime, give or take depending on park capacity.

7. Check the Wind – Be sure to take wind direction into account when picking your prime location. There will be plenty of smoke from the explosions, so you will not want the wind blowing it right into your faces. Take a look at the big torches when they light them prior to the show for an easy way to see wind direction.

6. Exit Strategy – If IllumiNations is going to be the finale to your Epcot evening, you’ll may want to consider your path out of the park when choosing your viewing spot. Lots of people will be heading out as soon as the show is over. So if you’re a “lets beat the crowds” kinda crew, you should choose a spot as close to your exit as possible. Straight out from the ball is obviously the easiest if you’re using the Main Exit. If you’re going through International Gateway, the bridge between the France Pavilion and the UK Pavilion is a great spot. However, don’t feel rushed after IllumiNations. If you have the time to linger a little, then don’t worry so much about exit strategy.

5. Best Future World Viewing – Viewing from Future World will offer you a spectacular view of all the pavilions lit up while the fireworks blast and the music blares. Of course the Fast Pass platform is ideal, but snagging a spot to either side of the roped-off area will still be excellent. And again, you can make a quick exit if that’s your priority. Just watch for trees that may be in your line of sight.

4. Best World Showcase Viewing – There are lots of great places to view IllumiNations in World Showcase, where you’ll get a view of the show with the ball in the background. One of my favorites is Italy, where you can pretend you are watching from the canals of Venice. (note: this spot is sometimes closed for dessert parties) The rocky shore of China is also a great spot. For a unique “secret” spot try the balcony in front of the restaurant in Japan. You’ll be up high enough for an unobstructed view, but you won’t block the people inside.

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3. Worst Viewing – In my opinion there are several places you DON’T want to be when IllumiNations begins. Morocco is one of the worst spots, if you ask me. The boulders around the African Outpost make waterside viewing there less than fantastic. The America pavilion is mostly blocked by the stage. And Mexico doesn’t have the greatest access either, unless you are dining (although the bridge before Mexico is a good option, as is the portion between Mexico and Norway).

2. Viewing with Kids – If you have small children, you’ll need to take their height and sensitivity to sound into account when choosing a spot. Your best bet is anywhere with a long railing (in between the U.K. and France is a favorite) for a front row view. Get settled early so that kids can be in the front (and see tip #1 for sure!). For kids that might get scared of the loud sounds, have a back-up plan close by. For instance, we chose to watch close to the Port of Entry store when our two year old was going through a sensitive stage. If the fireworks got too loud, we could duck into the store with him to muffle the sound but still see the display. (Plus there’s A/C in there!)

1. Don’t Forget Dessert – Wherever you decide to see the show, don’t forget a sweet treat to savor while you’re waiting. The desserts in France and Germany are divine. If you’re in Future World, check out the amazing cakes at the cafeteria in the Land next to Soarin’. Or for the ultimate in IllumiNations memories, reserve a spot at the Sparkling Dessert Party – a viewing spot and sweet stop all in one!

Enjoy the magic of IllumiNations!

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Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper

About Melissa

Melissa resides on Florida's beautiful Space Coast with her husband and four Disney-loving boys. She frequently allows skipping school for Disney World visits...because making memories is more important than math. Their family has also been seen on HGTV's hit show "My Yard Goes Disney."

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