“Behold! The great Millennium walk.” Those booming words from the Sage of Time echo in my head more than 20 years after the debut of “Tapestry of Nations” at EPCOT. Created for the Walt Disney World Resort Millennium Celebration, this spectacular parade took place nightly around World Showcase Lagoon. It is by far my favorite parade ever created for a Disney park, and I spent countless evenings capturing performances on film. Recently, I scanned those negatives and wanted to share some of my favorite memories with you.
According to Pam Brandon’s “Marking the Millennium – The Celebration of a Lifetime at Walt Disney World Resort,” the parade was in development for three years. Originally conceived as a show called “Carnival of Giants,” the working title evolved from “Millennium 2000,” then “Earth 2000,” then “Tapestry of Dreams” (a name later used when the show continued during the “100 Years of Magic Celebration”), before landing on the perfect “Tapestry of Nations.”
During the show, millennium drums served as a human heartbeat while guests were transported on a spiritual journey with larger-than-life puppets set to an emotional score.
The concept clicked for me, as there were many times I found myself lost in the moment, drumming along to the music while performers danced on the World Showcase promenade with 20-foot-tall aerial rod puppets. I think my favorite puppets were the futuristic Hammered Man or the gangly Disc Man.
Award-winning designer Michael Curry brought the puppet designs to life, and a crew of 50 worked for over a year creating 120 puppets for the show. There were 40 different styles, three of each design with names like Bird Man, Wiggle Girl, Aztec Man, Inverted Marionette, Angel Girl and the Sprite.
Thirty drummers pounded giant rolling clocks in time to a breathtaking score composed by Gavin Greenaway. He said the soundtrack “communicates a feeling of oneness, of belonging, with many cultures and people together.”
Music was recorded at Abbey Road in London with musicians from the Royal Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra, and a 30-member chorus. Even now as I write this article while listening to the soundtrack, I’m moved to tears, as the music is filled with such hope and optimism.
I extend a sincere thank you to the cast members who spent many hours bringing this show to life. Throughout my career, I’ve met many people who adore “Tapestry of Nations” as much as me, and it’s always an instant bond we can share.
This is just one of the countless indelible memories from my years at The Most Magical Place on Earth. I’ll continue to share more here on the Disney Parks Blog as part of our ongoing celebration of the Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary. You can also follow #DisneyWorld50 on social media channels to become part of the conversation!
Tapestry of Nations was an amazing experience to behold. It was beautiful, moving, emotional and one of a kind. Each time I saw it my chest would swell and my eyes would well up and I was overcome with the feelings it evoked. Disney has created a lot of parades and processionals but for me this was and still is the best by far.
I literally listen to this every day! It is play right now! We were at WDW the week it debuted and my daughter was 8 years old. It was our 3rd visit to WDW and we absolutely fell in love with this parade! It fills my heart with so much love and joy!!! This truly showed what Disney was capable of! I just wish they could get back some of that magic and heart now!!!
We loved thús parade it was fantastic so powerful and the music is great I think it should have been brought back for the 50th
I still play this music from the Millennium Celebration CD that I bought when I visited during that time. But I’ve got to give the crown to the Lion King Celebration at Disneyland in the mid-1990s. This is a VERY close second for me, though. It was an amazing show. But the highlight from that CD is “We Go On.” Still, the Lion King Celebration, Illuminations, and Tapestry of Nations were all very different types of shows, and each had their unique level of amazingness. A STRONG case can be made for Tapestry of Nations to beat Festival of the Lion King. They were different kinds of shows, so I can absolutely respect someone preferring Tapestry of Nations.
As an 11 year old, I was so blown away by this show and IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth. I don’t think there will ever be 2 shows that fit EPCOT so perfectly. Tapestry was so joyous and full of life! Thanks for the read Steven!
Gorgeous. Spectacular. Emotional. Loved every minute every time we watched. Lucky to see it at least twice.
We saw this parade with my daughter when she was 2…she loved it! Looked everywhere for a video of it when we got home but never found one. Was hoping to see one here…oh well…will have to look for the soundtrack!
Absolutely my all time favorite. We watched it every day we were at WDW on a number of vacations. I was so sorry to see it go.
This parade was a favorite for my family. My son was 5 years old when it debuted and was obsessed with this parade. He made a lego version then a paper version. We had to listen to the soundtrack in the car or watch the video we took of it every day. We were lucky enough to purchase marionette versions of the Hammered Man and Disc Man. It’s still has a special place in this families heart.
Second time my wife and I sat thru the parade, was in a steady rain . It was that memorable. We stayed to the end, we play the sound track to bring back great memories.
So sorry I never got to see this.
I bought the music and often play it in my kindergarten classroom. I play it when we are doing a STEM activity where the kids are working together because the music builds so beautifully to an incredible ending, just like their projects. I remember seeing the Tapestry of Nations and how exciting and unique it was. I hope that Disney will continue to create this kind of artistry in the parks. Steven Miller, thank-you for thanking the cast members who brought this amazing parade to so many lucky guests. I’m sure they appreciate your gratitude. I’d like to thank them too because I know what they did must have taken a lot of stregnth and put a strain on their muscles having to manipulate those incredible puppets, especially in the Florida heat. I will never forget the experience you gave me.