Disney Realizes They Have a Huge Mess with Harmonious at Epcot


Some of the following report contains information gleaned from rumors that, while we believe have credibility, cannot be independently verified at this time.

When Harmonious was announced for Epcot, there was a great deal of excitement despite the sad understanding that Reflections of Earth would have to leave. Reflections of Earth was a nighttime spectacular unlike anything else Disney has ever produced, and the show was often known to bring strong emotional responses from even the most anti-Disney tourist. Without a strong connection to any intellectual properties, the show instead touched the heart of viewers by appealing to the shared connection and journey of the various peoples, cultures, and nations of the world.

Replacing Reflections of Earth was already a tall order, but with the arrival of the new show’s set pieces, the only thing tall about Harmonious are the enormous barges that block views around World Showcase Lagoon. The reaction around the web and from guests physically in Epcot has been not good. And by not good, we sort of mean repulsed. Really.

With people referring to the four oddly shaped barges as “death tacos” and the giant ring as a stargate, it’s clear there’s no way around these sightline-destroying obstacles having already achieved a negative reaction. And considering these barges are not designed to be moved on any regular basis, there’s really no way they can be moved daily to return World Showcase to the only-place-in-the-world-like-it jewel that it once was. These barges are meant to be pulled by tugboat if ever moved out of position, and they’re connected to a large number of utilities that need to be disconnected first. Unlike Reflections of Earth, it is very unlikely Disney will be able to transport them daily.

But the problems are growing for Disney, in what can only be compared to perhaps the opening of Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland. Because the show has highly optimal viewing points, and because it also has highly negative viewing points, huge portions of World Showcase will now be not only less than ideal for viewing the show… they’re actually obscured from seeing what’s going on in the giant ring. By far the best locations for viewing the show are areas near the American Adventure, and areas near the entrance to World Showcase from Future World. Areas that were previously used for private parties, events, and restaurants that had high-priced dining options for viewing the fireworks, well, many of them no longer have desirable angles. This could be devastating for reservations. We’re told Disney is finally aware of the issue.

How this project made it this far with such significant issues and the potential to lower revenues is quite remarkable. However, this is what we saw with Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland when it actually opened to lower park revenues. That this is becoming a trend with the current crop of Walt Disney Imagineers is concerning. We’re not out to be mean or disparage hard work, but we also have certain expectations when it comes to developments at the top tourist destination on the planet.

Beyond the loss of revenues that Harmonious may create, we are saddened because this actually matters. Epcot’s World Showcase is a celebration of the cultures of the world. You can look out over the lake and see so many varieties of architecture representing a harmony of human achievements with all the flavors that people have created. No, they’re not authentic in the way that visiting those countries would be, but that’s not the point. The amount of money, the uniqueness, the level of artistry — all that is now damaged for years to come by a compass of giant metal tacos and industrial steel in the shape of a sideways halo. It sort of makes you glad that budgets were cut so that they couldn’t touch Spaceship Earth; at least it wasn’t damaged in this process.

Throughout Disney’s history, they’ve done so much good as a company. Still they continue to do some good, such as featuring two children with physical challenges on their Hollywood Studios maps. Here’s to hoping that Bob Chapek becomes aware that his company, however, has creatives and specialists who are damaging the brand, the shows, and the parks with a lack of care that once existed. Whether it’s Star Wars or Epcot or issues with China, there’s only so far the Disney+ streaming bubble can go, and we want to see Disney return to excellence in artistry, in conscientiousness, and in ethic.

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