Harmonious continues Walt Disney World's tradition of nighttime spectaculars on the Epcot World Showcase lagoon.
Replacing Epcot Forever and the long-running IllumiNations, Harmonious celebrates the world's musical cultures... as expressed through Disney's animated movie scores. The 20-minute show features 240 musical artists from around the world, who recorded 15 Disney songs in 13 languages during 110 recording sessions in nine countries.
Harmonious accompanies that soundtrack with visuals from a new lineup of show platforms, fountains, and lights on and around the World Showcase lagoon. The show runs on five floating platforms, with four 25-by-88-foot LED panels and a 50-foot central water curtain, supplemented with hundreds of moving fountains and lights, plus lasers and pyro.
Ultimately, this show didn't stop my eternal pining for the original IllumiNations, with its classical soundtrack and lights and lasers that enveloped all of World Showcase lagoon and most of its national pavilions. Harmonious does not celebrate global music so much as it celebrates that Disney is a global brand now, with music and movies that reference cultures around the world.
I mean, that's a good thing. It's great when people of all colors and backgrounds can see themselves in the work of a brand as popular and powerful as Disney's. But while Harmonious talks about the way that music can bring people together (literally, in a verbal introduction), it never finds the heart which drives that need to connect.
Visually, the show relies on bulky platforms that demand you pick an appropriate spot around the lagoon in order to see their displays. Much of imagery is abstract, rather than scenes from Disney's movies - a la World of Color. Initially, I felt a bit like I was sitting with Palpatine and Anakin in the Galaxies Opera House.
I probably shouldn't have brought up World of Color, because now I am longing for the more elegant simplicity of that production's water screens. The problem with that approach, of course, is that it can be viewed only from head-on, an issue that Disney wanted to avoid on the World Showcase lagoon, where people gather around the promenade to watch the big show at the end of each day.
But Harmonious' barges (which remain an eyesore for many during the day) don't provide the 360 degrees of prime viewing that a show that just gave fans a bunch of fountains, lasers, flashing lights and pyro to watch would have. The media displayed on the screens just did not seem engaging enough, to me, to be worth all that money and hassle that the designing, creating and installing the barges must have demanded. (Update: the Mulan sequence was by far the best. Princess and the Frog delivered Broadway flash, but the visuals in the Brave sequence did not work for me.)
Is Harmonious worth watching? Sure. It's a fine "kiss goodnight" at the end of your day at Epcot. But Disney has done better with its nighttime spectaculars.
If you are curious, the musical line-up includes:
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