Interview by Martin Palicki
Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, which commenced on October 1, 2021, is bringing many new experiences across the resort. One of the most highly anticipated debuts was EPCOT’s nighttime spectacular Harmonious. The show replaced IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, which was performed in the World Showcase Lagoon for about 20 years until the temporary show Epcot Forever took over while Harmonious was being installed. We interviewed Kristine Bunnell, Senior Producer with Disney Live Entertainment and Producer on Harmonious. She’s produced a variety of shows and experiences for Disney including the Festival Fantasy Parade, Wishes fireworks, Holidays Around the World and more.
Describe Harmonious for us.
Harmonious is one of the largest nighttime spectaculars we’ve ever created. It is a celebration of Disney music and stories like you’ve never heard before. Our classic Disney songs are reinterpreted by a diverse group of musical artists from around the world, inspired by the cultures where those stories came from.
Visually, it’s stunning. It’s everything you can imagine a nighttime spectacular would have: multimedia projection, fountains, moving lights, fireworks, lasers and these new choreographed, giant moving arms.
What other elements are part of the production?
We had an impressive toolkit to work with for this show. The choreographed arms I mentioned are part of these new five floating scenic platforms on the lagoon that allow us to tell our story in a completely new way. We also use many of the things around World Showcase that were part of IllumiNations, including the torches and lights on the pavilion buildings. The center icon is 65 feet above the water and from that we have moving lights, moving fountains and pyrotechnics. It’s on a very grand scale and it all integrates for a truly immersive experience.
As a storyteller, how do you create a story that is viewed from 360-degrees around the lagoon?
From the very beginning we wanted to have a show that a guest could experience from anywhere around the lagoon. The toolkit I just described really does allow the guests to experience the show no matter where they are located. Actually, there are times in the show where I think guests will want to come back and see it several times, because the media and effects are slightly different in different locations.
How do you think fans of Illuminations will feel about Harmonious?
I think they’re going to be blown away. For us, this is looking toward the future. Harmonious is a major centerpiece and milestone of EPCOT’s transformation. So I think they’ll be excited about where the park is going and the stories that we’re telling with Harmonious.
Tell us more about how the show fits into EPCOT’s transformation.
The show is about global connectedness. Disney music and stories connect people from all over the world. Music is a universal language and I think the hope for the future that this show inspires is a perfect complement to EPCOT.
What do you want people to walk away with after the show?
I want them to be inspired and feel that emotional connection and see themselves in the stories we present. Many of the characters we present are seen in silhouette, and I think people from different cultures and backgrounds may have strong connections to these stories and the way we present them. We want them to feel that and feel like they are part of the experience. •