Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Rare Look at EPCOT Center’s First Nighttime Spectacular

By Keith Mahne

Carnival de Lumiere was the very first nighttime spectacular at Epcot. It was a presentation using rear projection screens on barges floating on the World Showcase Lagoon. Between the projection barges were fireworks barges controlled by Apple Computers. The show could be viewed only from points between Mexico and Canada. It lasted just a few months before being replaced by A New World Fantasy. Continue after the page break for some rare 1982 press shots that gives us a look at one of EPCOT Center’s shortest lived shows: Carnival de Lumière...

Ticket to the first viewing of Carnival de Lumière

The precursor to the now famous line of IllumiNations shows, Carnival was rather basic, in the fact that it only preformed on the entrance part of World Showcase Promenade. Instead of the quadrant of barges that form a loop in the center of World Showcase Lagoon, as in IllumiNations, Carnival had a fan of three barges that stretched from Mexico to Canada, much in the same way Disneyland’s World of Color is preformed today. The barges were solely for the purposes of projecting imagery onto large screens of misted water, a precursor to Laserphonic Fantasy employing actual lasers to paint bright shapes and images on larger curtains of water.

Pyrotechnics, meanwhile, were launched from smaller barges in between the fountain barges, and provided for a seamless line of spectacle across the northern shores of World Showcase Lagoon. The pyro effects weren’t as large as today’s presentations, but an assortment of comets, bursts, and streamers were used to accent the musical score. Although there are no known recordings of the score, we can assume that it was much like Laserphonic Fantasy’s: the original IllumiNations score, but under the guise of a heavy synthesizer.

Carnival de Lumière was the first EPCOT Center night show that used the classical music of the nations of World Showcase, and the technical wizardry of Future World. It was the perfect event for the grand and inspiring showcase that EPCOT Center is.

Below is a video from October 1986 featuring the Laserphonic Fantasy show to give you an idea what the Carnival de Lumière was like:


  1. All I have to do is HEAR that music and my heart soars!!

  2. The original Illuminations was amazing! I was fortunate to receive a CD of the music from Don Dorsey, and listen to it on my iPod on a regular basis! :-)

    1. Ximagineer please contact me at, I'd love to chat with you about that. Keith