Friday, November 6, 2015

Epcot's Skyleidoscope Lagoon Show

By Keith Mahne

Have you ever heard of, or even seen, the old Epcot show that once took place over World Showcase Lagoon called Skyleidoscope? It was a truly spectacular show to say the least. As this 1985 Walt Disney World News article stated, "Skyleidoscope is a fairy tale come to life. Watch Dreamfinder, the star of Kodak’s ‘Journey into Imagination,’ paint magical rainbows in the sky. Dreamfinder orchestrates more than 70 flying, swimming, and sailing vessels from his fanciful flying machine. Colorful streamers of smoke and daytime fireworks brighten the sky. Add evil dragons, heroes, and ear-catching music, and you have a crowd-pleasing, one-of-a-kind show.” Pretty amazing sounding, right? Let's explore and revisit the once incredible Epcot show Skyleidoscope in today's new article...

I think it's appropriate to start off by saying that Epcot hasn't had a daytime spectacular anything like Skyleidoscope since its final show in 1987. In order to describe what exactly the lagoon show was about, let's refer to this 1986 Walt Disney Company press photo (seen above). The description states,

“Ma’ Dragon and her sinister sidekick, Pa’ Dragon, join the forces of evil in the 1986 edition of Skyleidoscope at Epcot Center. Along with 10 purplish ‘dragonettes.’ They stir up World Showcase Lagoon in an effort to disrupt the ‘good guys,’ whose mission is to paint the sky with rainbow colors.”

This 1986 Walt Disney World News description is a good one as well...

“Skyleidoscope’s appeal blends a magical mix of seaplanes, kites, colorful speedboats, purple dragons, jet-powered seas shells, sailboats, balloons, and fireworks for a wild aero-nautical presentation. This entire spectacle stars the lovable Dreamfinder, from Kodak’s ‘Journey into Imagination.’ Flying above the action in an extraordinary magical biplane, you’ll hear him hoot and bellow and roar with laughter as he paints the sky with Magical Rainbows.”

As part of the Walt Disney World 15th Birthday edition of Epcot Center’s Skyleidoscope, Dragon boats and rainbow-making flying machines would combine with red-white-and-blue daylight fireworks to fill the World Showcase Lagoon and the skies above it with happy sounds and colors. Can you imagine how beautiful this was? Here are a few more shots...

The show, described as an "aerial spectacular," was absolutely stunning. More than 60 floating, skimming and flying machines would speed through the air and across the waters of Epcot's World Showcase lagoon. After the show, dancers, singers, musicians and street actors would perform throughout Epcot. It was pure jubilation.

Telling you about the lagoon show and showing you photos of it is one thing, but seeing it in action is another. And so, please enjoy this short clip I put together of Epcot's "aerial spectacular," the jaw dropping, one-of-a-kind Skyleidoscope lagoon show featuring Regis Philbin... Enjoy!


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.


  1. The mere idea of using planes in such a way today could kill very every single person in a room full of lawyers...

    1. Yep, exactly why we will never see something like this again. One of the pilots died during a test run for the show which eventually lead to its demise.

    2. I bet it comes back with drones.

  2. The Rainbow Flight Team consisted of two types of aircraft: Advanced Aeromarine "Buccaneer" and the Maxair "Drifter". Both were very capable aircraft and looked beautiful in the show. I visited their behind-the-scenes runway setup once and was impressed with the facility. (I am a Drifter pilot and owner myself.) Buccaneers were amphibious by design and somewhat boxy to fly. The more maneuverable Drifters were fitted with inflatable floats.

    From the rumors I heard, there was a sort of friendly rivalry between the Buccaneer pilots and the Drifter pilots. Drifters were capable of more G's and faster turns. One day one of the Buccaneer pilots decided to try either a spin or a roll to try to prove the aircraft could do it, and the fatal crash resulted. I believe the Skyleidoscope show ended that day.

    Sad that the pride and hubris of one man could cause the end of such a beautiful spectacle.

  3. I drove a boat in that show. Our final performance was exactly 30 years ago today (July 29, 1987). Just prior to the show on August 1, we were told there was an accident with one of the planes and the show would be cancelled for that day. Word quickly spread about the death of the pilot. I returned to college soon after that, but as far as I know, they never did the show again.