Any time I visit Walt Disney World, I feel like the parks set out a special, sensory welcome mat to make me feel like I’m really home. Of course, there are the delicious smells from the food and snacks and the stunning visuals of their icons: Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, the Tree of Life and Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat (to which I bid a fond farewell, but admittedly look forward to looking down and seeing the theater in all its glory once again).
For me, though, the true magic of Walt Disney World is in the music. Music is a necessity in my life and can instantly transport me back to a time, a place or a feeling. The music of Walt Disney World is the perfect complement to the magical wonders guests see and experience on their vacation. Whenever I listen to music from the Walt Disney World theme parks, I can practically feel myself actually there! What is more magical than that?
In recent years, I’ve searched far and wide to compile Walt Disney World music that I can listen to when I’m home or in the car. Of course, there are official CDs such as the Walt Disney World Official Album, Walt Disney World Wishes and Four Parks, One World to name a couple (check on Amazon or the iTunes Store for these albums). There are also a number of streaming music sites that offer a comprehensive collection Walt Disney World music such as MouseWorld Radio, Sorcerer’s Radio, 8tracks.com, d-cot.com or just a basic search for Disney on Live365.com will find you more music than you can dream about. Believe it or not YouTube also has collections of theme park music to enjoy! So, letting the music transport you back to Walt Disney World is a mouse click (pun intended) away!
Now that you know where to find your favorite Walt Disney World music, I wanted my first article on Disney Parks music cover my current favorite theme park music selections. After the holidays, I’ll share my favorite extinct attraction and/or Disney theme park area music–and, believe me, there are lots of amazing selections to choose from that collection! This list is in no particular order, because that would be like choosing a favorite child!
Spaceship Earth score, Epcot, composer: Bruce Broughton: I first rode Spaceship Earth back in October 1982, just a few weeks after the park’s opening day. The musical score tied together the attraction’s story so well, that even at the ripe old age of 11, I could appreciate its importance and its beauty. Today, I listen to the entire score and the story plays in my imagination and grabs my heart.
Soarin’ score, Epcot, composer: Jerry Goldsmith. When you have an Oscar winning composer write the score for an attraction, odds are it’s going to be a classic. From the moment those low strings start in the darkness of the beginning of the ride, I feel a rush of anticipation come over me and then whoosh, up I go, with rising music seemingly lifting me instead of the ride. Each section of the music captures the essence of the locale it highlights and the ride would be far less effective without the soundtrack. Simply gorgeous.
Grim Grinning Ghosts, Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom, music by Buddy Baker, lyrics by X Atencio. I argue that without this song, the Haunted Mansion wouldn’t be one of the most popular and enduring attractions in Walt Disney World. The music and lyrics play in various styles throughout the ride and add just the right amount of spooky with a touch of humor to make sure the Haunted Mansion remains a family friendly experience. The best use of the song is in the graveyard scene and brings the undead magically back to life! I never fail to smile and bop around in my Doom Buggy each time I visit the Haunted Mansion. A perfect scene setter and totally entertaining!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios background music, various composers. This may be a cop out, but I couldn’t possibly pick just one area in in the park where the music makes a difference or sets the scene. The combination of original movie scores and reinterpretations of them in areas such as the Animation Courtyard add a feeling of nostalgia and does exactly what good soundtrack music should do—evoke emotion and bring you deeper into your surroundings. Whether it’s classic Disney songs or classic movie scores (such as Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, Toy Story, The Little Mermaid, and more), the background music heightens the guests’ experience by adding another layer to the movie magic around the park. I also like the way the music helps guide me throughout the park. There are times it helps me move and builds excitement (such as near the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith), while at other times it slows down the pace and encourages you to relax a little, ease up on the attractions and take some time to enjoy the sights (especially in front of the Great Movie Ride attraction and Toy Story Midway Mania.)
There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, Carousel of Progress, Magic Kingdom: composers Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman. This is the iconic song that ties together nearly a century’s worth of history in one attraction. Anyone who has sat in the famous rotating theater inevitably either sings or hums the tune by the time the show reaches its final scene. It’s a catchy little earworm that has a classic Disney message: “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.” In fact, Walt Disney commissioned the song for the first appearance of this attraction at the 1964 World’s Fair. Now that is an enduring song!
After the holidays, I’ll share my favorite Disney Parks music from extinct areas and attractions, which are some of my favorite pieces of music of all time.
What are some of your favorite current or past Disney Music selections? Leave a comment and I’ll share them in my next music post.
This post first appeared on WDWFanZone.com on November 26, 2014.