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Around the world in a jiffy!

Spaceship Earth as Epcot’s shining icon at Walt Disney World, Florida. Photo: Soma Basu  

It was like an early Diwali for me this summer as I sat by the lagoon at Lake Buena Vista, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and watched some spectacular fireworks. There were thousands of other tourists too of various nationalities who watched the eye-popping displays in the dark night sky and rejoiced in celebrating planet Earth and humanity.

Seated in the front-row on the outdoor patio of the Moroccon restaurant, which overlooks the lagoon, the late night meal and feel was magical enough. But what followed later was more dramatic. At 9 p.m., it looked like a power cut as the entire area plunged into a darkness. And the voice of Jim Cummings took over and told us an amazing story “as old as time itself and still being written.” It was called the Reflections of Earth. And then dancing flames and cascading fountains synchronised to a peppy musical score on the waters and simultaneously the skies lit up with fireworks.

The grand13-minute spectacle titled ‘IllumiNations’ was worth the watch. It started with a ballet of fire to signify chaos and the beginning of a cosmic event – the origin of the planet. Then there was mayhem depicted with vigorous dancing of light beams falling on the lagoon from all directions and it soon transformed into a sea of floating pyrotechnic stars. It set the stage for the appearance of the exhilarating show’s centrepiece, the Earth.

Next moment our eyes were treated to a dramatically spinning globe, measuring 28-feet in diameter, on which more than 180,000 Light Emitting Diodes beamed images of primal seas and forest, the development of famous cultural landmarks including the Himalayas, the Sphynx, the Easter Island statues and Mount Rushmore. Visages of famous people from around the world such as Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Muhammad Ali and the Dalai Lama were shown next to highlight both human diversity and unified spirit of mankind. Beaming the shape of Continents, the twinkling, steel-ribbed Earth globe rotates on a 350-ton floating island that houses six computer processors, 258 strobe lights and an infrared guidance system.

The dazzling visual mix of leaping fountains of water, glowing fire and lively fireworks making colourful patterns in the sky is choreographed to a powerful composition “We Go On…” that blends the melodies and rhythms of many regional cultures with an uplifting, unifying theme. The inspiring performance concluded with the globe opening up like a lotus flower and from its heart emerged a giant fire torch rising 40 feet into the air. Nineteen additional torches ringing the lagoon combined with the radiant explosion of fireworks creating colour-rich resplendent reflections across the rippling waters.

Dubbed as the show of the century, it ended with an all-pervading silence even with a sea of humanity at the venue. Taken in by the mind blowing show, I forgot all about my tired feet that went on a whirlwind tour of 11 countries and four continents in flat two hours just before the show!

Here at Epcot -- home to the World Showcase – there are 11 pavilions representing countries from around the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico. At each pavilion, there are innumerable attractions from dining, drinking and shopping relating to the country.

For some it is an international merchandise mecca with more than 65 boutiques and emporiums of arts, handicrafts and culture and the ultimate one-stop collection of foreign goods.

It is easy to get lost in the meandering maze here on the 40 acre lagoon that showcases the world and beyond in all its majesty and historicity. The magnificent and authentic visual experience of each land left me with a regret though. I did not find India. And I hurried across the world.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 8:49:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Around-the-world-in-a-jiffy/article16071172.ece

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