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Epcot's wonders cheaper after 4 p.m.

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[Photo: Walt Disney World]
The Epcot show “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” combines rousing fireworks, bursts of gas-fed flames, video images projected on a moving globe and fountains of water.

By ROBERT N. JENKINS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 28, 2002


Floridians can buy an Epcot-after-4 annual pass for unlimited visits to the park, which is featuring a holiday "Candlelight Processional." A Pleasure Island pass is available, too.

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Sure, it gets dark early now, but to lure Florida residents during our warm winter nights, Walt Disney World Resort is selling discounted passes to Epcot and Pleasure Island.

One-day admission to any of the four theme parks at Disney is $50 plus tax for adults, $40 plus tax for children 3 to 9. But Floridians can buy an Epcot-after-4 p.m. annual pass, good for unlimited admission, for $104 for adults, $88 for children, plus tax.

Admission is charged after 7 p.m. to Pleasure Island, with its eight comedy clubs and individually themed nightclubs. Admission for the night is $19.95, and only those at least 18 years old are admitted. But an annual pass, for $54.95 plus tax, allows unlimited admissions, except to special events such as concerts by top-of-the-bill performers.

Epcot is the only one of Disney's theme parks with the evening pass. Because it has few rides and has always had a heavy dose of education in its exhibition halls and national pavilions, Epcot tends to attract more adults and older children.

Two major events are scheduled there every night, and its annual Christmas show, the "Candlelight Processional," begins Friday night and runs almost daily through Dec. 30.

Twice each evening, at 6:10 and 7:45, one of Disney's best live events marches around a large segment of the World Showcase. "Tapestry of Dreams," which debuted in October 1999 in slightly different form, is an especially imaginative parade of giant puppets.

There are eight basic puppet designs, presented in 54 versions that stand 12 to 19 feet tall. The puppets have articulated sections that allow their puppeteers to give the huge figures humanlike movements.

With arms stretching as wide as 16 feet, the puppets dip, sway and reach toward the spectators. The puppets prance to an original soundtrack during the 30-minute procession.

Though the "Tapestry" parade is enchantingly different, the famed "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" is a jaw-dropper. It takes place once each night on and above the World Showcase Lagoon and combines rousing fireworks, bursts of gas-fed flames, video images projected on a moving globe and fountains of water. This 13-minute extravaganza is cued to a stirring soundtrack.

The spinning globe, a 28-foot-diameter sphere representing Earth, is defined by video screens in the shape of the continents. Alternately pictured on the screens are seas and forests; landmarks such as the Sphinx, the Easter Island statues and Mount Rushmore; and historic figures including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein and Muhammad Ali.

"IllumiNations" is visible around most of the lagoon, but the top viewing spots are at the small bridges just to the left side of the French Pavilion. When you enter the park, ask the time for this big show, then head to your viewing spot early.

The seasonal "Candlelight Processional" includes a large choir, a 50-piece orchestra and a celebrity narrator. The event, which is included in the admission price, lasts about 45 minutes and takes place at the American Pavilion. This year's narrators include John Tesh, Marlee Matlin, Gary Sinise and Blair Underwood.

PREVIEW

For more information on Walt Disney World Resort's after-dark passes, call (407) 824-4321 or see www.disneyworld.com .

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