Disney reveals millennium plans

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MIAMI BEACH -- Walt Disney World unveiled plans today at Pow Wow for its 15-month millennium celebration. The string of events, starting Oct. 1, will be of great interest to international travelers, said George Kalogridis, vice president of Epcot, where the major related events will take place.

A rendering of the planned millennium light show over Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon. Epcot, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., was selected as the venue because Walt Disney once referred to Epcot (he died before it opened) as a "living blueprint for the future," Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World said. "And it is in that spirit that we welcome the world to celebrate the millennium at this, our discovery park," he added.

Pow Wow logoKalogridis said that one of the celebration's key features will be a 55,000-square-foot World Showcase pavilion (between the U.K. and Canada pavilions). It will feature examples of lifestyles and cultures of people from some 20 nations along with messages from several organizations, none of them previously represented at Epcot.

Among the many participants will be Brazil, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Sweden, the United Nations, the World Bank, the American Agricultural Resource Council and Brazil's Globo media concern, the latter spotlighting technology and the future, to mark the 500th anniversary of Brazil's discovery.

Two major events will be held in the evenings, Kalogridis said: the Tapestry of Nations street festival and the IllumiNations 2000 Reflections of Earth fireworks, laser-light and fire show.

The two daily 30-minute street festivals, about 90-minutes apart, will feature 123 20-to-30-foot high animated, puppet-like human and animal characters, parading around World Showcase (clockwise, from Mexico to Canada); the public will be invited to march alongside.

The puppets will be accompanied by costumed performers who will work the puppet control panels. When the puppets interact with a visitor, the puppets will emulate the visitor's behavior. The festival also will have 18 rolling drum units, each carrying 12 drummers, to provide the marching beat.

The IllumiNations show calls for projecting images of the past three centuries onto a giant sphere. As the music soars, fireworks light the sky and flames will leap across the surface of the lagoon, representing "an emotional conviction of who you are and where you are on the planet," Kalogridis said.

In the Future World section of Epcot, themes of science and technology, the environment, creativity, children and cultural celebrations will be featured.

The Kodak pavilion will continue with its 3-D movie, but its DreamFinder ride will be replaced by another one tied to imagination.

In addition, a souvenir millennium pin will be given away at Epcot all 465 days of the celebration, along with Disney millennium clothing and gift items. There will be 465 different pins, each about one square inch. Should all of the pins

be collected and sorted out as puzzle pieces, they will form a picture of Epcot. Disney officials expect the pins to be collected and traded by visitors, Kalogridis said.

A Centorium shopping area will be created at Epcot, augmenting the park's existing shopping space by 150%. Although it resembles the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney, it will not be as large.

Perhaps the most memorable souvenir will be a personal photo of each visitor who, after paying a fee, will have it embedded in the gigantic Leave a Legacy sculpture that will be a permanent fixture between Epcot's turnstyles and Spaceship Earth. On return trips, visitors will be able to point out their photos to others.

Kalogridis suggested that agents have clients arrive at Epcot by 4 p.m. to be assured of seeing all of the entertainment.n

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