During the Christmas season, the IllumiNations fireworks at Epcot run as normal, but from mid-November until December 30, 2017, it concludes with a pyro-heavy “Peace on Earth” tag after the grand finale of the normal show.
This post covers info and our tips for viewing the holiday version of IllumiNations: Peace on Earth (also known as the “Let There Be Peace on Earth” tag), which is one of the highlights of Holidays Around the World at Epcot.
The first and biggest tip is to not leave your spot after the end of the grand finale of IllumiNations during the holiday season. There is a bit of a delay (an oddly long one) before the Peace on Earth tag begins, and without fail, we see people leave their spots before it starts, thinking the fireworks show is over. To the contrary, the best is yet to come…
Really, even though it’s only a few minutes long, this is arguably the highlight of Christmas at Epcot, especially now that Lights of Winter is gone. (Still bitter.) Walt Disney World takes this show to the next level with the Peace on Earth tag that features extra fireworks after the main show concludes.
The message of peace in this tag does not include one of tranquility, as this tag literally shakes the ground and probably wakes the neighbors from their peaceful slumbers. The Peace on Earth tag sentiment is sweet, although the message that used to be delivered by Walter Cronkite was beautiful:
“During this glorious time of year, there is one message that rings out around the world in every language. Peace on earth, goodwill to men is a wish to hold in our hearts throughout each passing year. A gift of immeasurable value. A treasure being handed down with care, from generation to generation. And so our holiday wish is that everyone, everywhere share in the spirit of the season. Peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
Good views of IllumiNations: Peace on Earth are available all around World Showcase Lagoon…and in Future World, and even outside the park. The fireworks in this tag are higher than the standard IllumiNations, and there is less emphasis on low-level effects, so having a good spot for the Peace on Earth tag is not nearly as important as a good view for the main show.
In fact, I’ve photographed the IllumiNations: Peace on Earth tag from a number of unconventional locations, inside the park and out. It’s easy to see from the Epcot Christmas tree, Fountain of Nations, and front of the park by Spaceship Earth. Outside of the park, the bridge by Yacht Club and the Swan & Dolphin is the best spot, but the show is visible from virtually any resort near Epcot.
Irrespective of that, we still recommend arriving no less than 30 minutes in advance (more if you’re there at a busy time) and grabbing a spot. Remember, the Peace on Earth tag is only a few minutes long, and it’s after the regular IllumiNations show.
Basically, you want to follow our Best IllumiNations Viewing Spots Guidefor choosing a spot. The only caveat to that is if you have kids–some of the closer views listed in that post will be pretty loud/scary for the Peace on Earth tag.
Occasionally, we recommend getting a FastPass+ for IllumiNations, so you can have a “front row” spot in between the two gift shops (we call this the “Front of the House” as it’s the true front view for Illuminations) at the entrance to World Showcase.
Right now, with the hot demand for Frozen Ever After (which you’d be forgoing if you got an IllumiNations FastPass+), that’s not our advice. However, if you get shut out of the Frozen Ever After FP+ sweepstakes, you might consider opting for the IllumiNations FastPass.
Another tip we have is seeing both Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! and IllumiNations: Peace on Earth on the same night. While it’s not possible to do Jingle, Bell, Jingle BAM! and Fantasmic in the same night, it’s pretty simple to head to Epcot after Disney’s Hollywood Studios closes and see both Christmas fireworks shows in the same evening.
In looking at the park hours for late November and December, we notice a lot of nights where Disney’s Hollywood Studios closes at 7 or 8 pm and Epcot closes at 9:00 pm. Assuming that DHS closes at 8 pm, all you need to do is leave around park closing, and walk (follow the signs) from DHS, through the Crescent Lake Resort Area, to the International Gateway World Showcase entrance of Epcot.
This walk will take 15-20 minutes, and we recommend doing this over taking a Friendship Boat because it will be faster, particularly if there’s a line for the boats. These boats make multiple stops between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, so they are not exactly efficient. If you have extra time, taking the boat is a nice experience, but if you don’t, we recommend walking.
One final tip is in terms of photography. The Peace on Earth tag is very bright at some points, so you’ll want to use either a neutral density filter of an aperture around f/16 or higher. We cover all camera settings in our How to Photograph Fireworks Guide. To read about the equipment I used to take the photos in this post, as well as other ways to improve your photography at Walt Disney World, read Tom’s Ultimate Disney Photography Guide post.
Overall, even though IllumiNations: Peace on Earth lasts only a few minutes, it is one of the most awe-inspiring things you will see during the Christmas season at Walt Disney World. It’s a satisfying and fitting conclusion to the end of a day at Epcot, and we highly recommend making a point of seeing it once or twice during your vacation.
What do you think of the IllumiNations: Peace on Earth tag? Which aspect of Holidays Around the World is your favorite? Still bitter about the Lights of Winter being gone? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments!