Harmonious is Epcot’s new nighttime spectacular that debuted for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. The show celebrates the unity Disney music brings around the world and is done nightly (usually at 9 PM) in World Showcase Lagoon. In this post, we’ll review the new show. There will be some slight spoilers and a few photos just to warn you!
Following a legend is never easy and that’s exactly what Epcot’s Harmonious is trying to do. Yes, Epcot Forever ran for a while after Illuminations: Reflections of Earth ended but, for all intents and purposes, Harmonious was Illumination’s replacement. Epcot’s old show had some detractors but you don’t go on (pun intended) for as long as that did without fanfare. I’ve written about my love for Illuminations on many occasions and knew that whatever came next at Epcot probably wouldn’t measure up in my eyes. While that was true, I didn’t expect a complete tonal shift from the predecessor and that’s what Harmonious ends up being.
You know the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?” I’m afraid that Epcot’s new nighttime show is the opposite. Harmonious comes in with a 20 minute runtime and has some phenomenal scenes throughout it. It just lacks a cohesion and uplifting idea to connect them all.
Maybe it’s not fair to say that the show has no concept behind it as the idea is right there in the name. Harmonious states in its opening narration that different harmonies connect us all and bring the world together. Not so subtly, the show then runs through double digit Disney songs sung in many different languages. While that idea behind the show is okay if looked at singularly, what Harmonious actually feels like is Disney bragging about how universally loved their songs are.
It’s not that they’re wrong, I’m writing this on a Disney Parks fan blog of all places. I love Disney songs, the people standing behind me at the show loves Disney songs, you probably love Disney songs. But we know that already, we don’t need a show to remind us of it. In a way, it all felt vaguely familiar to many concerns this site and others have about the Disney Parks – that they are too concerned with corporate synergy to the point that story and heart get left behind.
Before we get to far down this negative hole, I should state some positives because there are plenty! Harmonious is a good amount of fun and a nighttime spectacular that I’ll continuously come back to because standing alongside World Showcase Lagoon and watching things explode overhead is still a near perfect evening. The pyro in the show is impressive, especially once it gets going. The last 10 minutes or so are full of wows and make for some memorable moments.
Likewise, the arrangements of some of the songs are absolutely beautiful and will get the crowd into the show. The Lion King and Coco segments were personal favorites. In a way, I think this show is right up the alley of young adults which is a large segment of the Epcot fan base. There’s so many favorite songs run through and guests are bound to like the segment where one of their favorite movies is featured. It’s a safe bet to play and I think it will work for many guests because of that. On some of those weekend nights, when Food & Wine is really rolling, Harmonious will be quite, uhhh, festive.
From a transition standpoint, Harmonious flows pretty well. There’s a Mulan song that unfortunately didn’t quite fit in and the closing narration may have had me grimacing a little bit. Outside of those, the show rolls along without many hiccups. As for the giant barges that have been the talk of anyone who’s visited Epcot in the last 6 months…. Well, they are very active in the show sometimes in a way that I appreciated and sometimes in ways that didn’t make much sense to me. They are certainly impressive feats of Imagineering but are they worth the eyesore during the day? I’d probably say no.
Looking at the show from strictly a watching perspective and not big picture, Harmonious definitely isn’t a disaster. It’s better than Epcot Forever, which completely fell apart in the second half, or Disney’s Mix Magic in Disneyland. It’s actually probably most comparable to Mix Magic for those that have seen it, there’s just better music and pyro during Harmonious. It’s great to look at and listen to.
Unfortunately, it’s not the show Epcot deserves. There is nothing high concept about it like Illuminations gave guests. As the guy behind me said while walking out, “I felt nothing.” While there were moments that had me dancing or singing along, I agree with him. I know full well that not everyone would agree with that statement and there are others who would rather a show just be danced or sung along to than anything else. But, I wish there was more heart involved for a park that, when originally opened, was one of the most unique and best ideas in theme park history. A show celebrating Disney songs isn’t enough.
The post show really hammered that point home in my head. As loud remixes played over the speakers and the giant barges did weird things with their arms, I was hoping for a little more subtlety. It’s not that hearing lovely songs sung in different languages isn’t beautiful, it absolutely is. But Illuminations took minutes to float out a globe to the middle of the lagoon as the music swelled during the show while Harmonious had a post-show obnoxiously loud with what looked like something out of Transformers readying for attack. The contrast was stark and I think Epcot deserves something more thoughtful.
Have you been able to see Harmonious yet? Let us know what thoughts you have, along with any questions, in the comments below. If you are planning a trip to Disney World, then check out our planning guide. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!