On December 5, 2023, Disney debuted a brand new nighttime spectacular at EPCOT, Luminous The Symphony of Us which has now replaced EPCOT Forever, Disney Harmonious and the beloved Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Luminous is already lighting up the World Showcase Lagoon and is one of the most impressive shows any Disney park has ever seen.
If there is one thing that guests love to do after eating all EPCOT’s amazing snacks and drinking around the World Showcase, it’s gathering around the lagoon and watching the nighttime fireworks show.
(UPDATE) – Disney has just debuted EPCOT’s new nighttime spectacular “Luminous The Symphony of Us.” Keep reading below for the latest including our full review of this nighttime spectacular.
In this post, we are going to explain everything we know about “Luminous The Symphony of Us,” the newest fireworks show in EPCOT.
Think of this as EPCOT Fireworks 101. We will go over the potential Luminous opening dates, and other details such as its, music, potential IP, and what technology will be used in the show.
We’ll share the fireworks viewing times, all the songs and music from the show, all the characters, and films represented, plus all the new technology it uses such as the lights, LED panels, and if we have to still deal with massive floats in the middle of the lagoon.
We’ll also explain the best places to watch Luminous, dining packages, any FAQs you may have, and our full review of the show including how it compares to other fireworks shows like Disney Harmonious, the show it’s replacing over at EPCOT and any previous nighttime spectaculars in the park
Even though it’s now been years, the majority of long-time EPCOT goers are still missing Illuminations: Reflections of Earth as it was the park’s greatest nighttime show and is still in the hearts of many. Even though Luminous still doesn’t top Illuminations, we think it’s certainly a step in the right direction. But we’ll get into that all in a minute.
Also, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we bring you the latest updates on the new EPCOT fireworks show as well as Disney vacation planning tips. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter!
Table of Contents
- Location: EPCOT (World Showcase Lagoon)
- Opening Date: NOW OPEN as of December 5, 2023
- Attraction Type: Nighttime Spectacular with Fireworks, Fountains, Lights & Lasers
- Show Duration: 17 minutes
- Replaced: EPCOT Forever
- Designer: Walt Disney Creative Entertainment
What is Luminous The Symphony of US?
Luminous The Symphony of Us is the latest nighttime spectacular and fireworks show in EPCOT and it debuted on December 5, 2023.
Its name “Luminous” already prepares guests for what is a feast for lights and colors, and its music includes “an original composition along with select songs from the Disney songbook, this new spectacular will remind us that we’re more alike than different, connecting our hearts together as one.”
It’s a big change from what we had with Disney Harmonious. That was basically a glorified playlist of popular Disney songs, with Disney characters at the center of the story.
Luminous tries to be more like Illuminations: Reflections of Earth in that it uses music as a way to unite people together, a few songs which happen to be from the Disney films. Songs from some of your favorite movies such as The Lion King, Aladdin, Toy Story, and Coco make an appearance.
(We’ll cover how these characters are used and how we feel about it later on in our full review.)
As always, the show is centered around the World Showcase Lagoon and there is plenty of technology behind the scenes that makes this fireworks show possible.
“Luminous” features massive floating barges, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers, and more. It’s easy to see why we had to wait more than a year to finally see the finished product. It’s actually one of the most complicated shows that Disney has ever put together.
Luminous is meant to be a long-term replacement for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, after short stays by Disney Harmonious and EPCOT Forever as EPCOT’s nighttime spectaculars.
How Long is Luminous The Symphony of US?
From start to finish, the nighttime spectacular “Luminous The Symphony of Us” has a show length of 17 minutes. That is about 6 minutes longer than its predecessors EPCOT Forever (11 minutes and 20 seconds) and Illuminations: Reflections of Earth (13 minutes), but 4 minutes shorter than Disney Harmonious (21 minutes).
When did Luminous Open at EPCOT?
Luminous The Symphony of Us officially debuted on December 5, 2023, and is running at EPCOT nightly.
The show was announced at the D23 Expo back in 2022 and it has taken more than a year to develop and get up and running in the park.
The timing is right and it makes the perfect centerpiece of the EPCOT expansion project, which is almost complete now that World Celebration is open (even though CommuniCore Hall and CommuniCore Plaza were delayed).
Now that Luminous is finally open, this is great timing if you are planning a trip to EPCOT in the coming months as you can see the show on your next visit. The previous show, EPCOT Forever, had its final showing on December 4, 2023. Though since it has already been retired once and come back, it wouldn’t surprise us to see it again if Luminous doesn’t stick around for many years.
Firework shows at EPCOT run nightly but can vary based on the park’s operating hours or special events happening on a given day.
- Under normal circumstances, Luminous The Symphony of Us runs at 9:00 pm nightly.
- From now through December 30, 2023, Luminous is running at 9:30 pm nightly.
Check the My Disney Experience app or the Walt Disney World website for the most updated times during your vacation.
Show Scenes and Music
Of course, the fireworks are usually what everyone notices right away in any Disney nighttime spectacular, but what really sets one apart from the other in my book is the music that is featured.
That’s what makes a show truly stand out. In fact, that’s the reason why Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is so beloved still to this day, and easily the best show EPCOT has ever had. That said, you are probably curious to find out what music is in this newest show.
Luminous The Symphony of Us features 12 songs:
- Heartbeat Symphony
- You’ll Be in My Heart (Tarzan)
- Proud Corazón (Coco)
- You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Toy Story)
- Friend Like Me (Aladdin)
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight (The Lion King)
- So Close (Enchanted)
- When She Loved Me (Toy Story 2)
- Remember Me (Coco)
- Into the Unknown (Frozen 2)
- I See the Light (Tangled)
- Beating of Our Hearts
As you can see, there are two brand new original songs that were created for Luminous, “Heartbeat Symphony” and “Beating of Our Hearts.” These open and close the show, but there are also songs from some of the Disney films as well, just not as prominently and more tastefully done than in Disney Harmonious.
The songs that are from Disney films have been done in a different way than in the films with some lyrics being sung in languages from around the world. Disney collaborated with composer Pinar Toprak, Katherine McPhee, and singer/songwriter Sheléa, as well as many other artists and singers to bring the music to life.
Films Represented in the Show
Even though they couldn’t fit songs from every film into Luminous The Symphony of Us, there are a total of 9 films represented with some of the songs from those films making the soundtrack.
Here is a list of all the films that have representation during Luminous The Symphony of Us:
- Frozen 2
- The Lion King
- Toy Story
- Toy Story 2
What about the World Showcase Lagoon Barges?
Ok, let’s get this one out of the way. Yes, there are barges on World Showcase Lagoon during Luminous, but thankfully, those barges are not a permanent fixture as they were during Harmonious. They are brought out into the lagoon every evening before the show, and then returned to a holding area after the show overnight.
Executive producer for Disney Live Entertainment, Tom Williams said: “They come out every afternoon. They go back to their little home to get ready for the next day.”
That means you don’t have to look at them all day long as you did with Harmonious. That was one of our biggest complaints with that show and at least Disney has learned a lesson after all the complaints from fans.
But just because they are moveable, doesn’t mean they are any less powerful or important to Luminous. The show has increased the number of large barges from 8 to 12, and there are even 40 smaller ones that separate off those main ones.
Honestly, we didn’t know exactly what to expect when Luminous The Symphony of Us debuted. If you’ve been going to the Disney World theme parks over the last few years, you know it’s been a whirlwind of new nighttime shows, one after another. Some have been great, and others extremely disappointing.
Think about it, since 2019 we’ve had 4 different fireworks shows at EPCOT, and one had two different runs during that timeframe. Not to mention there have been multiple changes at the Magic Kingdom, and 2 iterations of Rivers of Light at the Animal Kingdom.
This is after Wishes had a 14-year run and Illuminations: Reflections of Earth an even more impressive 20-year run. Call me boring, but that’s how I like my fireworks shows. I like to be able to come to the parks for at least 10 years and be able to sing all the songs from these shows by heart.
Getting back to EPCOT, we know that replacing Illuminations is a practically impossible task, we’re the first to judge any new show according to the lofty standards its given us, but the show must go on and we now have Luminous to enjoy.
So, is Luminous a worthy successor to Illuminations? Did Disney do a better job this time around of integrating the Disney music and characters into the show?
There are a lot of questions to answer so let’s get into it…
Let’s take a look at each aspect of the show to point out the strengths and weaknesses.
The special effects for Luminous were great, and an improvement over Harmonious. Most of the fireworks, lasers and lights and really cool, and the fountains are much better than those ugly octopus arms in Harmonious. These fountains are beautiful to watch and they way they are synced together really drives home the mood of that scene.
The screens are gone, as well as the projections, so it’s more minimalistic and you don’t have to focus on the water nearly as much.
I can’t be 100% sure, but it looked like roughly the same amount of pyro in this show as in recent years, and we liked the new designs of some of the firework bursts, the hearts were especially beautiful. We also really dig the bursts that come from the center of the barges that makes big explosion effects.
The music in any Disney show is the most important part to me, and Luminous does it very well, and is an improvement over Harmonious. I mean, just the fact that there are 2 new songs for the show and it’s not just a playlist of standard Disney songs makes this a win. Is it sad my expectations have gone that low in recent years?
For Luminous, Disney brought in many musicians and singers together, and the wonderful arrangements were done by Pinar Toprak, together with singers Sheléa and Katharine McPhee. The music in the show was created to bring guests watching the show together in an incredible symphony, and we think they did a good job with that.
The two original songs are “Heartbeat Symphony” and “Beating of Our Hearts.” Both are good, but we prefer the song at the finale more. The lyrics are catchy and we are always into a nice choir for the crescendo.
They were both memorable and something we found ourselves humming after the first performance. That’s always a good sign, because if the tune doesn’t stick in my head, it probably wasn’t all that memorable. This is the problem I ran into with Harmonious and Enchantment.
The way Disney integrated the classic songs from the films was also well done, and better than before. Favorites like “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” “Remember Me,” and “I See the Light” were all different from the films, yet tastefully done with unique arrangements. I don’t know how to explain it but they were much more subtle than in Harmonious.
They also did a nice job working in all the different languages into the music, and it didn’t feel messy, but very unifying, which was the goal.
I feel like almost every Disney nighttime spectacular is strong in the beginning and in the end, but the middle is often the weak link, and that is the same with Luminous. The tempo is upbeat in the beginning but in the middle, there are some quiet scenes and awkward pauses almost.
I understand the creators were going for a very emotional part in the middle when they talk about loss, but I would have liked that part to drag a little less. Overall though, the transitions from one scene to the other were pretty smooth and you get the sense and feel they were going for in each one.
I also love that they didn’t try to cram all the Disney characters down our throats this time. Some EPCOT purists can even tolerate the characters in select attractions, but the EPCOT fireworks show should have a completely different feel than the Magic Kingdom show, and I think Luminous accomplishes that.
The show is supposed to bring people from all around the world together and show us how we are all connected, and I think they did that nicely. It also does a good job telling the story of life, growing up, romance, loss, but also triumph in the end.
This to me is where the best Disney nighttime shows really shine. One of the reasons that makes Happily Ever After and Illuminations the two greatest fireworks shows Disney World has ever put on is that they know how to stick the ending. The way the music builds up and fills you with emotion, along with the fireworks and other special effects happening at the same time is the stuff of magic.
I think Luminous does a good job with the ending, not a great one. At least we were not puzzled that it was actually the end which is what happened every time we watched Harmonious. We got the traditional big finale we are used to, it just wasn’t quite as good as past shows.
Honestly, going into Luminous, we had low expectations. We were numb after all the previous shows, many of which have been disappointing of late. That said, we were pleasantly surprised with Luminous. I think they corrected many of the flaws that were present in Harmonious (ugly barges, too much Disney IP, bad musical arrangements, confusing storytelling).
Luminous does all those things better and we think it’s an improvement and step in the right direction. The pyrotechnics were all top-notch (Disney always does this well), they didn’t go cheap on the number of fireworks use, and the music was really awesome.
The show has a lot of heart and has a clear identity which we applaud. Personally speaking, it was a little too sad for me, and the middle of the show is a little bit of a downer. Disney shows always talk about adversity and overcoming it, but I didn’t really like the loss part of the show and I thought they were trying a little too hard to make guests cry.
That said, we really like Luminous. No it’s not Illuminations, and I think it will be many years until Disney is able to come up with a show on that same level for EPCOT, but it’s a solid show and it will make a nice centerpiece for EPCOT’s transformation.
How Long Will Harmonious Run?
Originally, when Illuminations: Reflections of Earth was retired in 2019, the long-term replacement was supposed to be Disney Harmonious, which debuted during the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary. That show was a mixed bag, and left many fans disappointed (including us).
Wisely, Disney decided to also retire Harmonious, and that’s when we heard that Luminous was in the works. In theory, this is supposed to be the long-term replacement to Illuminations, and if it only lasts 1 ½ years like Harmonious, it would be ruled a complete disaster.
When looking at Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, it had an incredible run lasting from September 22, 1999 all the way until September 30, 2019. That’s a full 20 years and one of the longest-running shows Disney has ever done.
Internally, whenever Disney creates a new nighttime spectacular, the higher-ups in the company would like to get 10 years out of it. It’s clear that Disney is hoping that Luminous The Symphony of Us is more like Illuminations and less like Harmonious, but it’s still uncertain how guests will consider the show, especially after multiple viewings.
Unless it gets complete backlash from park guests (which I don’t see happening), don’t expect it to go anywhere for at least 5 years. The nighttime spectaculars at EPCOT have been a revolving door lately, and we have a feeling it has some lasting power.
So if you don’t have a trip planned for WDW next year, don’t worry, it will still be there the year after and beyond.
We waited until later on to post this in case you didn’t want to be spoiled by the show. Here is the full video of Luminous The Symphony of Us:
Best Places to Watch
Watching the fireworks in EPCOT from a good spot in World Showcase is always important, so you’ll want a spot with clean sight lines to the water if possible.
The nice thing is, having the perfect view isn’t quite as important as it was during Harmonious because all the water features and special effects coming from the center of the lagoon offer the same viewing experience no matter what angle to watch them from.
That said, there are still many areas around the World Showcase that have obstructed views of the water and are not really ideal for even seeing the fireworks.
Over the years, we’ve watched the fireworks in EPCOT countless times so we have a good idea of where the best spots are and from where you will have the best angle. There are a few of them, you just need to know where to look…
Here are the best places to watch Luminous The Symphony of Us:
- World Showcase Plaza – Even though this may be the least scenic place on the list, it offers the best view of Luminous. It’s facing the exact center of the lagoon with few trees around, which is perfect for seeing the water fountains and fireworks in the sky.
- Italy Isola (Italy) – This is perhaps the most scenic of spots and gives a good view of the screens on the water. The right side of this island is usually booked for special events but you should be able to get a view from the railing on the left side.
- To the Side of American Gardens Theater (American Adventure) – This is another straight-on view of the show, but from the exact opposite side of the lagoon. Either side is good but there isn’t a lot of real estate here so you’ll have to camp out a good amount of time before.
- Rose & Crown Pub (on the patio outside) – This is the most relaxing spot, but you will have to be eating at Rose & Crown during the fireworks to get a seat. Not a straight view of the barges, but it’s good enough.
- Tokyo Dining (Japan) – This was one of our favorite spots before the new show, and it’s still great. Ask for a window seat in the dining room, or go outside on the balcony for an elevated view of Luminous.
- Pont des Arts Bridge (France) – This was higher on our list of fireworks spots, but with the new show you are on the side of the main fountain and can’t see inside it.
- Between Mexico and Norway – You can grab a nice spot between these two pavilions right on the walkway. It is low on seats and gets crowded though.
- Germany Pavilion – There is a nice section in Germany along the water, and there are even benches if you are tired. The view of the barges is partially obstructed from here.
- On the Disney Skyliner – This is a more unique and unconventional way of seeing the fireworks, but it is pretty awesome watching them from above. The only downside is there is no music to the show, but on the other hand, you don’t have to fight the crowds on the way out.
Luminous Dining Packages
If you don’t feel like waiting for a spot to watch the fireworks, there are packages that combine dinner at one of the restaurants in EPCOT with a view of Luminous The Symphony of Us
Right now there are 2 options for Luminous Dining Packages:
- Rose & Crown Fireworks Dining Package – Dine outdoors on the patio of the Rose & Crown Dining Room and enjoy excellent British fare. This package features a prix-fixe menu including one appetizer, entrée, dessert platter, and unlimited beverages.
- Spice Road Table Dining Package – Here you are seated outdoors in a covered dining area that is reminiscent of a Moroccan seaside cafe. Spice Road Table offers a variety of Mediterranean small plates, including Grilled Lamb Kefta, House-made Hummus Fries, and Spiced Chicken. The Spice Road Table Dining Package includes two small plates, a dessert platter, and unlimited beverages.
- Spice Road Table
- Your Choice of 2 Small Plates
- A shared Tagine
- A Dessert Platter
- Unlimited Beverages (Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages. A valid form of government ID will be required to verify your age.)
- Rose & Crown
- One Appetizer
- One Entrée
- One Dessert
- Selection of Unlimited Beverages
- Rose & Crown Fireworks Dining Package
- Adults: $92 per person (ages 10 and up), inclusive of tax and gratuity
- Children: $41 per child (ages 3 to 9), inclusive of tax and gratuity
- Spice Road Table Dining Package
- Adults: $81 per person (ages 10 and up), inclusive of tax and gratuity
- Children: $31 per child (ages 3 to 9), inclusive of tax and gratuity
While these dining packages are convenient, they each have different advantages and negative points about them. They cost extra money and they are more expensive than if you just were eating at the restaurant under normal circumstances. Of course, you are paying the premium for the view and the ease of everything.
Of the two packages, we prefer Rose & Crown because we enjoy the food much more there, plus we feel the view is a little better.
Advance reservations are highly recommended for all dessert parties and dinner packages and can be made on DisneyWorld.com or the My Disney Experience app.
Fireworks Desserts Parties
Normally, there are special dessert party packages guests can purchase for the EPCOT fireworks and they work similarly to the dinner dining packages here, and the dessert parties over in the Magic Kingdom.
Instead of having to wait for a spot around World Showcase Lagoon, these dessert fireworks viewing parties let you watch the fireworks show while enjoying some sweet snacks at the same time.
They are an extra cost and can be quite expensive, but may be worth it for someone who wants the convenience of having a good view without having to stand around for potentially hours to get that spot.
Unfortunately, Disney hasn’t brought back the dessert parties yet for EPCOT, but they likely will do so at a later date. When they do, you can go to the Walt Disney World Website to book any of these experiences.
As soon as we know more we’ll update you.
Here are the answers to some of your most common questions about the EPCOT fireworks and Luminous The Symphony of Us in particular:
Does EPCOT Have Fireworks Every Night?
Yes, EPCOT has a fireworks show on the schedule every night. Under normal circumstances, that show is Luminous The Symphony of Us and it is open to all guests.
However, sometimes for special events, EPCOT will have a modified version of the fireworks show with a holiday tag added onto it. This happens on New Year’s Eve and on the 4th of July.
It’s unclear at this time if Disney will run a special version of Luminous for these events. As soon as we find out more we’ll let you know.
What Time Should I Find a Spot?
How much time you need to start looking for a spot for the fireworks in EPCOT depends on what season it is, how busy the parks are when you visit, and how much you care about having a view of the fountains which are in the center of World Showcase Lagoon.
As we talked about a few minutes earlier about the best places to watch the show, those spots with a good view of the water are few and far between, which means they go quickly. If you want a good view of the fountains you need to stake your claim to a spot early.
If you are visiting during a slower time of the year and the crowds aren’t too bad, we recommend starting to look for a place to watch Luminous no fewer than 60 minutes before the start of the fireworks.
If you are going during a holiday or another really busy time of the year, it’s going to be much more difficult. We recommend that you start looking for a place as many as 2 hours before it starts, or more.
Of course, if you don’t care about an obstructed view then you should be able to find something with a clear view of the sky 30-40 minutes before showtime. Again, just don’t expect to have a great view of the barges in the lagoon, and sometimes even the fireworks will be covered by trees.
Is Staying for the EPCOT Fireworks Worth It?
Even when we weren’t big fans of previous EPCOT shows (Disney Harmonious I’m talking to you), we always suggested to guests to stay anyway as seeing the EPCOT fireworks is a must-do for most guests, especially on the first visit.
It doesn’t matter which theme park you are visiting, the fireworks are always a highlight of the day, and Luminous is no different. Even though it’s not quite as good as Illuminations, it’s still a really solid show and definitely worth the time and effort needed.
Of course, each family has to decide for itself whether to stay or not based on energy levels and your schedule, but in general we recommend staying for it.
To make sure you have enough energy to stay for the fireworks, there are a couple of things you can do.
First, we recommend coming late to EPCOT, perhaps even making it your second park of the day if you are park hopping. Come for an early dinner in World Showcase and then start looking for a spot for the show. Concentrate on the attractions in EPCOT another day and just come for the show.
If you wanted to do all the rides in EPCOT on the same day as seeing Luminous you can rope drop the park at opening and knock out most everything in the first 4-5 hours of the day. Go back to your hotel for a few hours to rest, and then return in the evening for Luminous
Does EPCOT Do Fireworks in the Rain?
All attractions in EPCOT, including fireworks shows, continue running in most weather types whether it’s raining or clear skies.
The only time Disney cancels the fireworks is when there is lightning or high winds. Those weather types make the conditions too dangerous for a nighttime spectacular, and in that case, they will not do the show.
If you don’t want to avoid watching Luminous in the rain, we suggest you check the weather forecast ahead of time to get an idea if it’s going to rain or not. If you have multiple days open to visit EPCOT, schedule the fireworks watching on the best day weather-wise and do more attractions on the when the weather isn’t nice.
For more information on planning your vacation to Walt Disney World here are some of our most useful posts:
- Disney World Planning Guide
- Disney World Crowd Calendar
- When Is the Best Time to Visit Disney World?
- New Attractions Coming to Walt Disney World in the Next 3 Years
I want to know what you think about the new Luminous The Symphony of US fireworks show at EPCOT…
- Are you excited for the show?
- What features would you like to see in Luminous?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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My name is Ziggy and I love Disney, everything Disney! I grew up on Disney and it has and continues to be a huge part of my life. I started young when my parents took me to Disney World when I was 18 months old. Little did they know that would be the first of an uncountable number of trips we would take. I have so many amazing memories going to Disney with my family and friends and it has been interwoven into my DNA.