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Surprise in the Skies



 Walt Disney World celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 1991.  Epcot had a special show to commemorate the occasion starting October 1, 1991.  The show started with the announcer saying "And now, we'll fill the skies with acts of magic and fantasy as EPCOT Center proudly presents Surprise in the Skies!"  Colored smoke was shot up in the air as six boats entered World Showcase Lagoon and circled around in a "Carousel of Color".  Hang gliders with streamers then lifted up 400 feet into the sky.  As they drifted back down, they would trail lines of smoke.  

 Weather permitting, eight paraplanes would then appear.  The announcer would tell the audience to "Turn your imagination upward" and the pilots were Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Pooh and Tigger.  The soundtrack featured Mickey, Goofy and Minnie talking about the how the "ants" on the ground were people.  Music heard during this portion included "When You Wish Upon a Star", "You Can Fly!" and "The Mickey Mouse Club March".  The next part of the show included performers on speed boats who manipulated kites.     

 During the final act of the show, the narrator would announce: "Ladies and gentleman, we direct your attention to the World Showcase Promenade.  As EPCOT Center salutes the nations of the world."  Giant jack-in-the-boxes in front of the World Showcase pavilions then opened to reveal 45-foot high balloons of a rotating Mickey, (American Adventure) Pooh (Canada), Robin Hood (United Kingdom), Pluto (France), Minnie (Japan), Daisy (Germany), Pinocchio playing an accordion (Italy), Chip and Dale (China), Tigger (Morocco), Donald (Mexico) and Viking Goofy (Norway).  It has been suggested by some Walt Dated World visitors that these balloons were first used in a Tokyo Disneyland show or parade, although it does not appear to be from the Tokyo Disneyland version of the Party Gras parade.

 After "Fanfare for the Common Man" was played, the announcer stated "And now, please join in as we salute our own red, white and blue."  Patriotic songs such as "(I'm a)Yankee Doodle Dandy", "The U.S. Air Force" ( A.K.A. "Wild Blue Yonder"), "Seventy-Six Trombones" and "You're a Grand Old Flag" played as six "Aqua Kites" that trailed dozens of other kites were flown by performers in the boats.  Taken together, the kites formed a mile long line.  More colored smoke and fireworks then ended the show.  The "Air Battle" music heard during the show can still be heard at Epcot at the Fountain of Nations near Innoventions.

 This show is not to be confused with an earlier lagoon show at EPCOT Center called Skyleidoscope.  It featured boats and ultralight light planes and gained notoriety in 1987 due to the fact that a pilot who performed in the show was killed.  Shortly after takeoff, the plane's wing folded back against the fuselage and the craft went in a nosedive.  The pilot parachuted out but the chute caught on the folded wing.  The accident happened offsite and did not actually occur during a performance in front of guests.  

(Thanks to TDLFAN at LaughingPlace.com for sharing memories about Surprise in the Skies.)

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