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New Year's Eve 1999 was an eagerly awaited day by many around the world. Epcot being the center of WDW's Millennium Celebration was a very popular choice for Disney guests that day. Resort guests told of stories that there were three Disney Transport busses at their resort that morning taking people to Epcot and all three were full while there was only one for the Magic Kingdom. The Epcot Auto Plaza opened at 7:30 that morning and was closed within just a few minutes as they found that the International Gateway entrance to the park had a very long line building. And the resort busses dropping guests off at the front of the park brought in even more crowds. It was soon announced that the park was closed except to Annual Passholders and Resort Guests and then shortly thereafter, it was closed to Annual Passholders as well. The line for the International Gateway entrance stretched all the way to the dock at the Yacht Club. Even with long lines just to get in, the crowd was very festive.
Once inside the park, lines at the counter service restaurants were unbelievable and people cheered when anybody got food. The line for Spaceship Earth early in the day wrapped around the entire Global Neighborhood building. The wait for Test Track was hours long. However, by around 11am, lines at most attractions were fairly manageable. By mid-afternoon, the park seemed as crowded as any other day. Lines at counter service restaurants around 4 to 5pm were fairly non-existent. The reason for this was that Disney's policy is that the first park you enter that day as a resort guest, you are guaranteed readmittance if you should leave the park to go back to your resort or to another park. However, if, for example, you left Epcot (the park you started in), went to the Disney/MGM Studios, left that park and then wanted to return to the Studios later, you may not get back in if the park is full. But you could get back into Epcot even if it was full because you entered that park first.
Disney sent a letter to resort guests explaining this policy and suggesting that they return to their resort for rest in the afternoon before returning to the park in the evening. This left the park much more manageable. And, it made traversing World Showcase during Tapestry of Nations' 3:30 and 5:15 performances much easier.
Full service restaurants were 100% booked and even an extra full service dining area was set up just outside International Gateway to accommodate the crowds. Most attractions ceased operation around 11:30 to allow everyone both guests and cast members a chance to see the spectacular fireworks display. In addition, it allowed the attractions to be tested just after midnight to make sure they were working properly before guests got to ride in them.
Live entertainment could be found in Millennium Central and the Fountain Stage in Future World as well as at the America Gardens Theatre, MoRockin', Off Kilter, and the British Invasion in World Showcase. A laser light disco party was held at the Italy courtyard and a video disco party was held at the Japan courtyard. Noisemakers and party hats (featuring the 2000 logo) were handed out to guests starting at 6 at Germany, The American Adventure, island between UK and France, the Rosewalk, near the Magic Music Days stage, and near the Universe of Energy.
Even though it had been technically pointed out that this was indeed the last day of the second millennium, crowds were not as intense this year. Cold weather also kept some people away. However, both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom filled to capacity during the day. Entertainment was similar to that of the year before in the same locations mentioned above. This year's hats had a colorful logo with the date 'December 31, 2000' written at the bottom. More information on the two versions of IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth is described below.
December 31, 1999 & 2000
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Epcot went all out to celebrate New Year's Eve in style. On December 31, 1999, guests grabbed positions around the lagoon starting early in the morning for that evening's fireworks. On December 31, 2000, cold weather and an effort to reduce crowds leaving the theme parks, prompted the park to present two editions of IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth.
The first showing (which only included the normal show) was presented at 7:30pm. After the male announcer gave the closing narration hoping that we enjoyed the show, the Epcot female announcer gave this announcement.
New Year's Eve Tag
In both years, the normal IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth show started off the evening's celebration at 11:40pm. The 2000 sign over Spaceship Earth remained lit during the entire show. After the main show ended with "We Go On," the instrumental theme to "Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand" began and this announcement was heard replacing the usual closing narration by the male announcer.
"Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand"
The song begins as fireworks are launched from behind Germany to Morocco in 1999 and in the lagoon in 2000. This is the same version of the song as heard on track 18 of the 2000 Official Album CD from Walt Disney Records
By this point, the Earth Globe has closed again and images of clocks and time keeping devices (such as hour glasses) appear on the screens. The sounds of clocks ticking are heard. During the countdown, the numbers are flashed on the screen followed by "Happy 2000" and "Happy New Year!"
Auld Lang Syne plays for about a minute and a half while fireworks erupt from the middle of the lagoon and from behind the pavilions providing an astounding and breathtaking vista in 1999 and in 2000 the fireworks fill the lagoon area only. Due to the noise of the screaming crowd, it was hard to hear the first part of this closing announcement in 1999.
Smoke filling the sky, the crowds to guests begin to leave the park or hang around until it closed at 2am in early 2000 and at 1am in early 2001. The normal exit music played after the show the first year, but for the second year, IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth pre-show music played in the background until 1am. A few minutes after the show ended that night in early 2001, the female announcer invited guests to stay in the park to continue celebrating until 1am.
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© EPCOT Discovery Center
Created June 24, 1999 / Last modified November 15, 2001