Ever since Epcot Forever debuted at the park last October, the music that has played after the show has always been lackluster to me. I prefer the former soundtrack that used to play after Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Those tribal hymns, chants, and musical styles that aren’t specific to a single country or culture, a musical “tapestry” if you will, is reason number one as to why I would walk the long way around World Showcase as I left the park for the night. Ironically, a part of this music plays DURING Epcot Forever, and on opening night the crowd went wild. Shockingly to me, surrounded by friends who were former cast members of the UK pavilion among others, everybody knew it as “The music that plays after Illuminations,” not as the soundtrack to one of the most unique offerings in the Disney pantheon of parades, the Tapestry of Nations.
Originally debuting as one of the signature offerings of the Walt Disney World Millenium Celebration, the Tapestry of Nations winded its way through Epcot’s World Showcase, though the route changed numerous times during the duration of the run. The procession was composed mostly of very large puppets designed by Michael Curry, who previously had done the puppets for The Lion King on Broadway, and went on to contribute more of his creative efforts to the Walt Disney Company, his recent examples being the numerous floating animal barges in Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light. Also included were live drummers on floats resembling large wheels and clocks that had drums that would slowly rotate as the float moved forward. Oddly, the parade (and the Millenium Celebration as a whole) garnered national attention when they were prominently featured in that year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Scheduled to end with the rest of the Millenium Celebration on December 31st, 2000, like Illuminations 2000: Reflections of Earth, the show proved so popular that it stayed after the celebration was over. Whereas Illuminations stayed a full two decades after its debut, closing in 2019, Tapestry of Nations didn’t make it past it’s second year, closing on September 9th, 2001.
While going into our archive of content, I found this video of that parade. Taken from what appears to be the UK Pavilion, we see the Sage of Time and following drum units and puppets coming over the bridge between the UK and France Pavilions near the international gateway. This performance happened more in the waning daylight hours, as opposed to the sunset/night performance where the shimmering stars effect was more obvious. You can also see some of the traffic challenges this parade caused in the narrow areas as guests still wanted and needed to move pavilion to pavilion during the parade.
After the Tapestry of Nations concluded on Sep 9th, 2001, the parade got a light retheme so it could run during the 100 Years of Magic Celebration as a “new” parade, the Tapestry of Dreams, which saw the addition of new original characters, the Dreamseekers. The new parade had dropped most of the “world peace and harmony” ideas to focus on “chasing dreams” like so many other experiences at Disney Parks, but did keep a lot of the original music. That version of the parade closed in March of 2003, though the music lived on, as earlier stated, after Illuminations until Illuminations: Reflections of Earth closed in 2019.
I love this video because The Tapestry of Nations (and similarly Dreams) was the third and last parade to ever be performed at EPCOT. The radical renovations coming to EPCOT in the coming months and years don’t reveal any plans for another. With Tapestry’s troubled routes, and the strong emphasis on Festivals at the park (and the crowds they draw) it seems highly unlikely that the park will ever see another parade, especially on the World Showcase Promenade. Videos like this one capture a very fondly remembered entertainment offering, with no pre-existing franchised characters or I.P., and an amazing soundtrack (that is far more than exit music!) that I personally doubt will ever happen again.