Ah, the early days of the Vacation Kingdom when death-defying stunts where the normal and the legal team wasn’t cringing about the implications of flying lightweight aircraft over spectators. Back in the 1980s, Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon was host to such a show known as Skyleidoscope. The daytime pageantry thrilled guests from 1985 – 1987.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… Dreamfinder
The colorful daytime spectacular debut in September 1985. With over 70 flying and sailing vessels accompanied with a bevy of dancers, singers and actors; this show was beyond thrilling. Planes colored the sky with streamers of smoke, while boats raced across the Lagoon. Walt Disney World’s press release marveled over the new extravaganza describing it as a “fairy tale come to life.”
The show featured Journey Into Imagination’s star, Dreamfinder, as the main character. His mission was to paint the sky in an array of colorful rainbows. But there were a bunch of evil doers know as Ma’ and Pa’ Dragon and their Dragonettes looking to disrupt Dreamfinder’s good time. Guests watched the two sides do battle in the classic showdown of good versus evil accompanied by music and fireworks.
The 1986 edition of Skyleidoscope featured planes and boats combined with red, white and blue fireworks to create an even greater showcase in the Lagoon. This was in celebration of the 15th birthday of Walt Disney World.
On August 1, 1987, pilot Rick Harper lost control of his aircraft on Disney property during a training exercise. He died from results of the plane crash. The accident led to the cancellation of the remaining shows. By Fall of 1987, Skyleidoscope’s production quietly had stopped.
The legacy of Epcot’s Skyleidoscope does live on in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. The Barnstormer attraction today features a billboard with the tagline “An Acrobatic Skyleidoscope” as a direct reference to Epcot Center’s daytime spectacle.
While the show may be long gone, we can still imagine a time when Dreamfinder battled back the nefarious forces on World Showcase Lagoon. Remember, there’s no place like World Showcase.
As a special treat, I have included an audio file from the 1987 version of the show.
Mouse Memories is a weekly series that looks back at the lost history and unknown facts of Walt Disney World.