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New lighting effects being tested on Epcot’s ‘Harmonious’ barges

by Tharin White

A new firework spectacular is coming to Walt Disney World. Epcot’s “Harmonious” nighttime show will be the successor to the temporary “Epcot Forever” fireworks show and the previous staple, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.” This new show will combine fireworks, Disney music, international inspiration and these monster-sized barges of engineering know-how to create a show like no other in the center of World Showcase Lagoon. Thanks to these shots, by Bioreconstruct on Twitter, we can see the newest sneak peek of what is to come to Epcot.

Epcot Harmonious Barges getting aligned for an eventual showing.

It has been said time and time again, but these barges are really big. They are also very obvious to daily visitors. In a previous article, we mentioned that Disney has plans on how to mitigate the steel structures. Unlike with most shows or rides, there is no hiding the progress with a show that needs to be built in the center of a park. But that does allow us to keep a close eye on each little step taken by Walt Disney Imagineering.

The barges, while currently a stark contrast to their surroundings during the day, do begin to disappear at night. Once the show begins, the black steel and wire of the barges will vanish behind LED screens, water effects and pyrotechnics.

Smaller lights accentuate key points of the Harmonious show.

On a recent trip, Bioreconstruct took note of these lights being tested. “Harmonious,” as seen through concept art, will heavily use spotlights and large, vibrant screens. These smaller lights will add to the already extensive line-up of lighting effects.

Imagine World Showcase Lagoon filled with smoke from a flurry of fireworks. The music begins to swell with a famous Disney song redone with a new choir-based vocal track. The mechanical arms of the barges raise up as lights begin to ignite. Then, just as the song reaches its crescendo, these hundreds of small lights create glowing waves across the sky. At once, lasers erupt from countries in World Showcase, much as they did for the previous shows. Fire begins to burn out of the barges as fireworks explode in the sky. A song, a gathering of crowds once again and five barges have brought magic to the sky as hope and happiness fills your heart.

Close up on barge lighting.

That example may have seemed a bit extreme as an assumption to make from some lights, but take yourself back to the first time you saw “Happily Ever After” at Magic Kingdom. Think about the power that well-timed projections, fireworks and songs have. These barges have had mixed reviews so far, and even I have questioned their appearance in an area of Epcot known for iconic views. But small details such as this point towards a striking performance.

LED strip lighting on Epcot Harmonious barges.

Seen here, LED strip lighting is done down each of the barges’ movable arms, as well. With lighting erupting from the barge itself, as well as lighting accentuating its design, there is a world of possibilities to be had. Could the barge’s shape be used as a storytelling element? Could they use all the barges as one system to create a synonymous creation, like making a massive Ursula on the water, complete with tentacles as large as school buses?

Rainbow arch shape being tested.

While the lighting seen in these shots is certainly for testing purposes, there is no reason to believe it won’t be used in this way. Epcot has a past with showcasing the full spectrum of color, like the famous Rainbow Tunnel. New work at Epcot’s entrance has shown to use a rainbow color scheme. This could certainly translate into “Harmonious” as well, with a natural, arching rainbow-like shape seen in the arms on the barges.

Re-Imagined Epcot Entrance Debuts New Fountains, Flags and Lighting Effects

In fact, recent installments at the park entrance already showcase the recent push for colored lighting to tell a story. New lighting, in fact, has been seen all over the park.

The barges are filled with complex lighting and pyrotechnic equipment.

Seen here is a one of the smaller “big black taco” barges in front of the centerpiece circular “stargate” barge. The wiring and equipment are incredibly complex, and something I am sure we will continue to learn about and discover with each visit leading up to the show’s debut.


Do these new details get you more excited for the debut of “Harmonious”? What creative ways do you imagine Disney using this powerful collection of pyrotechnics and lights? Let us know in the comments below.

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1 comment

Vinnie June 9, 2021 - 12:52 am

Tharin I wish I had your enthusiasm about this entire project
Right now all I see is an absolute eyesore in the middle of what was once a beautiful scenic lake
And I don’t see how fountains will completely cover it up during the day
Here’s to hoping you are right

Reply

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