Spotlight: Music in the Disney Parks | Uncle Walt's Insider

Spotlight: Music in the Disney Parks

Never count the Disney Company out when it comes to creativity, especially when it comes to music.

Going to a Disney park has always been a treat for all the senses. Just by strolling onto Main Street USA, your eyes take in the themed buildings, the landscaping, the castle ahead of you; there are smells of baked goods, cinnamon churros, and cast members sweating in polyester costumes; your sense of touch is engaged as you are jostled by eager children racing down the street towards the hub, and as their parents pursuing them in their ECV’s slam into your ankles; your taste buds join the party as you are flung to the pavement and kiss the asphalt. But rounding out the experience is the sound — there is music all around you!

To discuss the ability of Disney to fully involve its guests into a story without considering the music would be a mistake. Disney Parks make it a point to surround their guests with music wherever they go.

“Give them credit where credit is due,” Rick A., a recent visitor to Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom, told Uncle Walt’s Insider. “I’m here from London, and as musician myself, I always look forward to hearing the sounds that Disney pipes into each area of their parks.”

“You just can’t believe how much it puts you into the story,” Disney Imagineer Marcos Clemente adds. “We try to match not just the visual theme of the area, but also the mood. When you are entering the Magic Kingdom, the songs are upbeat and cheerful; in Adventureland, the music tries to instill a sense of danger and excitement. And of course in all the parks, as you face the exit or enter a store, the music slows down, so you move slower and take longer to shop.”

Up until now, it was assumed that the Disney Company took the music very seriously. “Oh, no,” Clemente says. “We’re always trying to mix things up and have fun, like slipping in an 80’s pop tune on Main Street. If we make it sound like it was recorded at the turn of the century, hardly anyone notices.”

Never ones to take things at face value, Uncle Walt’s Insider recently sent a correspondent to investigate.

“Going in, I was skeptical,” contributor John L. reports. “But I parked myself on a bench and sat there for hours listening to cheerful instrumental renditions of such oldies as Coney Island Baby, Fortuosity, and Junk Man Rag. My eyes started to glaze over after a while, and think I may have even nodded off a bit.”

To keep himself awake, John took a stroll towards the castle. “And that’s when I heard it — ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ by Wham. Oh, sure, it was being played on a calliope, but you just can’t miss that ‘jitterbug’ intro.”

“Let up? Us? Of course not,” Imagineer Clemente replies when questioned.

“You guys are the first to really notice it, or at least to say anything about it — and I bet you wouldn’t have if I hadn’t mentioned it to you before.”

“Down Main Street, walking past Spaceship Earth, or going through Africa, Asia, Sunset Boulevard, the music is everywhere,” guest Rick A. notes. And when told of Disney’s admission to sneaking pop songs into the mix? “Heh,” Rick says. “Maybe someday one of mine will show up. You never know.”