Best Places to View EPCOT’s Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

| December 5, 2013 | 12 Replies

Often considered the best nighttime show among guests at Walt Disney World, Illuminations:  Reflections of Earth packs them in each and every night around the World Showcase Lagoon inside EPCOT.  Since it’s the Christmas season at Walt Disney World guests get a bonus holiday tag after the regular Illuminations show.  This draws even more guests around the lagoon.   With so many guests around the lagoon and some locations blocked by foliage and buildings, where are the prime locations for viewing this fireworks and laser light extravaganza?

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Illuminations is my favorite show among the 3 major night time shows at Walt Disney World.  I always find myself viewing the show from 3 of my favorite spots every time.  I’m pretty stubborn because I feel these locations are the best and nothing would top them.  Maximizing your view of Illuminations is crucial to get the full breadth of the show.  It does spread itself across the lagoon and even the World Showcase buildings take part in the show’s effects so having a prime viewing location is crucial to your overall enjoyment of the show.  Let’s take a look at what are considered the best locations around World Showcase for viewing Illuminations (in no particular order).

World Showcase Plaza – We start with the most obvious location.  It’s where Future World and World Showcase meet.  I like to call this the “front and center” location for Illuminations.

La Hacienda de San Angel – A recent addition to the World Showcase restaurant lineup.  Located in the Mexico pavilion, this sit down eatery has full length windows throughout the back of the restaurant for prime viewing of Illuminations.  Make sure to time your meal as close to show time as possible and enjoy the views and piped-in musical score.

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The Italy Isola – This somewhat raised area is often used for private parties, but if you are lucky enough to find it open it provides one of the best viewing locations you’ll find around the lagoon.  Try not to let the colorful striped poles distract your view they are simply there to measure the water level.

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Upper Level Terrace at Tokyo Dining – A great spot not too many people know about in the Japan pavilion.  It’s elevated high enough to see above the lower level crowd and provides a great view of the entire lagoon.  This area is covered for an added bonus in case weather is a concern.

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The Rose & Crown Dining Room – Located in the UK pavilion, the Rose & Crown serves traditional UK favorites near the World Showcase Lagoon.   If you score a table next to the water you’ll have a great view of Illuminations.  Don’t worry if you don’t get a waterside table because you may be able to get a spot standing up against the railing.

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The bridge between France and UK pavilions – A very popular spot with unobstructed views.  If you choose this spot, arrive early because it fills up fast.

The Canada Pavilion – There are spots along the wooden fencing and alongside the water that provide ample obstructed viewing of the show.  Be sure to arrive early to stake your spot as this area tends to fill up fast as well.

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Here are a few general Illuminations viewing tips:

-  For the best opportunity to get a great viewing location arrive to your spot 60 minutes before the show starts.

-  Check the wind direction at your spot.  If it’s blowing at you, go to another location or else smoke from the fireworks will create a poor viewing experience.

-  Don’t be disappointed if your intended viewing location is closed off because of a private party.  Have an alternate location chosen in case your primary spot is reserved.

-  If you have to make a quick exit from the park after Illuminations, choose a spot towards the front of the lagoon.  You wouldn’t want to get caught walking with the crowds from the back of World Showcase.

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Do you have a favorite Illuminations:  Reflections of Earth viewing location you’d like to share?   Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.   Or maybe it’s such a good spot you’d rather keep it a secret.  Who could blame you?   Illuminations is such a moving and fabulous production having a great viewing location makes a huge difference in your overall enjoyment of the show.   We go on!

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  • Vince

    9 times out of 10, you can find me watching from the Isola at Italy. The view is largely obstructed, there’s a bit of seating, and there’s a great view of Spaceship Earth. Plus, I find that taking my time to leave, often the major crowds have already been picked up, and there’s not much of a wait for the busses.

    • Brenda Tarvin

      So, if I’m reading this right most people don’t go to the Isola at Italy to view because of the mostly obstructed views but there are places that are unobstructed that make for a decent viewing area?

  • Brenda Tarvin

    Great Article! Does anyone know if you have to have a dinning reservation in order to take advantage of the views from Upper Level Terrace at Tokyo Dining?

    • pam gallagher

      No need for reservations. You can just walk up their steps and stake your spot—just get there early and be prepared for folks to crowd in on you near Illuminations time. “Stand BIG.”

      • spoisal

        If you stand on the balcony are you blocking the view of those seating in the dining room by the windows?

        • pam gallagher

          If someone had their child on their shoulders it might block the view, but otherwise, this is a public viewing area, meaning anyone can access it who’s in the park and can get up those stairs. The balcony as I recall is a little lower than the windows.

          • pam gallagher

            Forgive the random dog pic. lol

          • pam gallagher

            Click this to enlarge it spoisal so that you can clearly see that the balcony itself is substantially lower than the windows and should not obstruct views.

  • Armando Bailon

    I was there on the 12th of Nov and just finished having dinner at San Angel Inn. And when we came out it was 25 min away for the show to begin.

  • Genette

    We were there 11/12-19 and saw Illuminations twice. I learned that because my husband gets frustrated with crowds I shouldn’t waste FP+ on Illuminations. He’s happier with a less populated view w/access to a good drink. We found a bench close to Germany our last night there. He got a margarita just as the show started. The boys could run around in the open space. We had some parts of the show slightly obstructed, but still enjoyed it more than if we’d been in prime seats surrounded by people.

  • Stephanie Marie Robinson

    Such a great overview. I always wondered where would be the best spot to watch the show. Thanks for the tips!!