by Beth Keating
June 22, 2022
When Disney’s current nighttime show, Harmonious, debuted in EPCOT in October 2021, it was met mostly with a resounding chorus of “meh” and shoulder shrugs. And while it did have its share of fans, albeit a group that was on the smaller side, many people still longed for the days of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.
Sadly, Harmonious may have suffered in part due to a really poor showing by Disney on their first livestream presentation of Harmonious’ debut. The camera coverage, and even the sound, was not up to Disney’s usual televised standards, and indeed, many Florida-based vloggers had better videos in their media coverage of the event. Those who saw it live, in person at EPCOT, seemed to have a higher opinion than those who watched that first televised livestream.
Fast forward to last night (June 21, 2022), and Disney’s presentation of Harmonious Live! in honor of World Music Day. Wow, what a difference! The new livestream of the show aired on Disney+, and is now available on replay for subscribers of the streaming service. Go watch it, because it is worth the 28-minute investment of your time. Part concert and part fireworks show, the event was well done, the camera coverage terrific, and the vocalists extraordinary. The accompaniment by a live orchestra, and music from multiple locations throughout the park, gave last night’s Harmonious an entirely different feel, and brought back all the emotion that seemed to be missing from the earlier show. The evening certainly rose to the quality level we normally expect from Disney.
Hosted by Idina Menzel (Frozen), with an appearance by Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) and a number of other celebrities, the tribute to World Music Day featured the talents of 240 artists from around the world, and incorporated thirteen languages and a variety of unique instruments, all while sharing music from fifteen of your favorite inspirational Disney stories and songs, including Hercules, Coco, Aladdin, The Lion King, Moana, and Beauty and the Beast.
In all honesty, I’m one of those folks who wasn’t wowed by Harmonious during my visits to the park. Our family saw the nighttime offering at the park on two occasions, once to experience it live for ourselves (and we were underwhelmed), and again a second time when we had out-of-town guests who hadn’t seen the show yet. They, too, just said, “It was fine, but it was one and done.” That may indeed be the opinion of a lot of park guests, because we had no problem getting front row viewing spots in World Showcase a mere five minutes before showtime during our last outing.
When Harmonious debuted last year in time for Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration, Disney Parks Blog wrote, “‘Harmonious’ illuminates our shared humanity, bringing to life the vision of EPCOT through a celebration of our world and its promise. Over the years, cultures from around the world have provided inspiration for Disney films and music. In ‘Harmonious,’ a global community of musical artists has come together and reinterpreted those familiar stories and songs in their own voice, honoring their respective cultures. Collectively, they contribute to a unique experience that could only happen at EPCOT, a place where the impossible becomes possible through the power of human imagination and the magic of Disney.”
Last night’s livestream was as if Harmonious was a whole different show than the show we’d seen in person in prior months, and I actually went back and watched the livestream again this morning. I have an enormous appreciation for the talented vocalists, who stayed completely in synch with the fireworks, moving fountains, lasers and floating giant screens going on behind them. Of particular note were mother-daughter gospel duo Kierra Sheard-Kelly and Karen Clark-Sheard with “Dig a Little Deeper,” backed by a fabulous choir, performing from the Italy Pavilion, and amazing violinists Lindsey Stirling and Mairead Nesbitt from the main stage.
Harmonious Live! was indeed a spectacular extravaganza, celebrating music from around the world. Give it a half hour of your time from the comfort of your own home. It just might change the way you feel about the in-park version of the show.
Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.
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