Disney World Versus: Wishes vs Illuminations

As we’re still plowing through Disney Week here at the site, today we thought we’d do something different and introduce a series of posts that pits one thing at Walt Disney World against another.  Our first Disney World Versus battle will feature the Wishes firework show at the Magic Kingdom against Illuminations:  Reflections of Earth at EPCOT Center.

How does one judge a fireworks show?  I’ve come up with a few categories and I’ll give the nod to either Wishes or Illuminations for each.  Let’s do this thing!

Illuminations is played on the dark, blank canvas that is World Showcase Lagoon.  Wishes, on the other hand, is generally viewed from Main Street USA with Cinderella’s Castle in the foreground and the Fireworks in the background.  Illuminations doesn’t really surprise you with anything – the fireworks don’t jump out and bite you – you can always tell when they’re coming.  On the other hand, Wishes mostly seems like they just give the controls to some kid and a kid just randomly hits buttons.  It’s clear why you see what when during Illuminations, but outside of Wishes’ (admittedly spectacular) finale, it just seems like a bunch of fireworks going off.  That’s fine, because fireworks are just a spectacle anyway, but Disney is capable of so much more.  Meanwhile, all of the torches surrounding World Showcase Lagoon get ‘blown out’ by the narrator just before the fireworks start – it’s an awesome effect.  Watching the video on the earth monitor as it swims around the Lagoon gets tiresome after a while, but it’s a cool effect… at first.
The point goes to Illuminations.

The theme to Wishes is…  well, wishes.  It’s not an especially interesting bit of storytelling because instead of just concentrating on one or two characters, there’s a whole host of people you never see telling you stuff, including Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket, and I’ll be damned if I know who else, but a lot of people.  It’s a jumble, and since there’s no one there to see, it really makes you feel like you’re listening to a weird mix tape, inter-spliced with the folk song “Star Light, Star Bright,” which is a shame, because they give you the tiniest of tastes of the vastly superior “When You Wish Upon a Star” (the 1940 Academy Award Winner for Best Original Song)… but we’ll get to the music in a second.  EPCOT beats you to death with their theme of a world united (you know, with their World Showcase that seems to be counting Morocco as a Middle Eastern Country), but at least it’s coherent.  Wishes is consistent, but it’s too many different disembodied voices we know too well.
The point goes to Illuminations.

The music for Illuminations isn’t anything memorable, but it’s serviceable and syncs with the visuals perfectly.  The music for Wishes is a mess:  the poppy version of “Star Light, Star Bright,” “Friend Like Me,” “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” clash with each other to say the least and don’t ever really serve the visuals.  Neither are great, but at least Illuminations music fits well with the show even if it’s not great music.
The point goes to Illuminations.

For me, it’s not close.  Illuminations beats Wishes’ schizophrenic ass into the ground… or sky… or whatever.  But don’t take my word for it:  watch em both and make up your own mind.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on May 23, 2013, in walt disney world blog posts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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