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PHOTOS – Are the Harmonious Barges at EPCOT Really That Bad?

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A few days ago a new massive ring appeared in World Showcase Lagoon, and the world of theme park social media was in an uproar. Change is never easy. But was the massive outcry warranted? After seeing many photos of the Harmonious barges that were zoomed in and positioned certain ways I figured some photos from multiple angles might illustrate just how distracting these barges are (or not) to the overall aesthetic of World Showcase.

Harmonious Barges – World Showcase Plaza
Harmonious Barges – World Showcase Plaza

As I walked around World Showcase I felt a roller coaster of opinions toward the barges. The large ring in particular is drawing lots of attention. From the concept art is appears this ring will produce a water screen with premium lighting effects to showcase moments from Disney movies and other scenes. This ring is the tallest structure on the lagoon, hopefully nothing taller will appear.

Harmonious Barges – World Showcase Plaza
Harmonious Barges – Japan Pavilion

The World Showcase Lagoon is so large that there is still plenty of real estate that is not taken up by the multiple barges. Much like the IllumiNations fireworks barges before it, the staging for Harmonious takes up the front portion of the lagoon only.

Harmonious Barges – African Outpost
Harmonious Barges – Germany Pavilion
Harmonious Barges – Germany Pavilion
Harmonious Barges – Italy Pavilion
Harmonious Barges – Italy Pavilion

Lots of folks are up in arms over the fact that the barges are visible all day. The signage around the Lagoon, and announcements from Disney, indicate that during the day there will be fountain displays. Other nighttime spectaculars that take places on the water, using water features, generally have involved the platforms to be submerged during most of the day. Certainly this is preferred for a clean, smooth appearance. The challenge with many such set ups has been maintaining the submerged equipment. It will be interesting to see how pleasant the visual becomes once the daytime fountains are functioning.

Harmonious Barges – American Gardens Theater
Harmonious Barges – France and United Kingdom Bridge
Harmonious Barges – Canada Pavilion
Harmonious Barges – Canada Pavilion
Harmonious Barges – Canada Pavilion

Overall, the barges are not as bad as described on social media (shocker, I know), but I can definitely see how their presence is not warmly welcomed. Still, they did not impede on my ability to savor the glory that is World Showcase.

What do you think of these Harmonious barges? Let us know in the comments!

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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

5 thoughts on “PHOTOS – Are the Harmonious Barges at EPCOT Really That Bad?

  • I’d imagine the show is designed for optimal viewing from the Fastpass viewing area and the (proposed) Festival Pavilion. Other views will be OK, but not as good.

    And like everyone else here, I’m not especially happy about the permanent additions to the lagoon, but will wait until the get the fountains going to decide.

  • I was thinking the same thing regarding these barges! If they are permanent structures, that mean they won’t be moving, so in order to see the show properly, you will need to be directly in front of it. Anything o the side, or even behind will likely be missing out on the effects. That’s what was great about Illuminations, it didn’t matter where in the World Showcase you were to see the show without missing anything.

    I’ll reserve judgement until I actually see these as fountains and see Harmonious, but something just seems off about these

  • I’m trying to be positive until I see the finished product but I do wonder….how will where you’re standing around the showcase allow you to see the overall/total show? I could be wrong, but it seems to me that with four barges projecting out from a permanent core that is set at a specific angle, you can’t possibly get the same view if you’re facing the side of the circle rather than head on. Also, if the whole thing is placed at the front of the lagoon, what’s the view toward the back of the lagoon? If this is truly the case, I can see the crowd trying to gather at the point where you can see the complete circle and at the front of the lagoon. So much for social distancing………..
    I guess I just don’t understand the concept.

  • In the original layout of EPCOT Center, sight lines were very important. That started going out the window with so-called “improvements” that started in the the mid to late 1990s. The openness and muted color themes of the early years made way for claustrophic congestion and carnival gaudiness.
    It seems that some of that has been addressed by the removing of the tombstones in front of SE and the tent poles and netting between the Comminicore buildings. But, there are still way too many kiosks and large obtrusive show buildings that mare the views and ambiance that I used to enjoy.
    It all boils down to money. If they can make a buck off of it, Disney will just cram it in there. As far as the lagoon, the daytime fountains will determine if there will be a pleasant view. Right now, it looks like set pieces from the Water World Show at Universal Studios. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Should have put it next to the (UK) pavilion – we could have pretended it was the London Eye on the river Thames.

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