« Great Movie Ride (Repeat) | Main | Quiz - The People of Disney - Questions »

Where Does the Music Come From? (Repeat)

Jack Spence Masthead


Today’s article was first posted on August 17, 2009. This was a fun blog to research and was well received.

If all goes well, next week’s blog will be an original. Thank you for your patience as I get settled into my temporary quarters.



Most people pay very little attention to the music being played in the background while visiting a Disney theme park. Our eyes are much too busy taking in all of the sights to consciously pay any attention to the melodies filling the air. The songs are simply there. But if the music wasn’t surrounding us at every turn, we’d notice. Our stroll down Main Street would seem flat and wanting.

Disney puts a lot of thought into the music they select for each land or area of their parks. First, it has to be appropriate. Obviously, they’re not going to play German music at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot. But you will find 1930’s and 40’s big band music on Sunset Blvd. at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Next, the music is usually somewhat upbeat. Disney wants their guests to be happy and a jaunty melody can affect our mood. I’m not saying that every tune played is a toe-tapper, but you won’t find many dirges, either.

Disney also wants the music to be recognizable when possible. If we can hum along with a tune, we’ll feel at home and comfortable.

But have you ever paid any attention as to where this music comes from? I mean, when you walk through a Disney park, the tunes are just there, as if by magic. The sounds don’t come from any one direction, they surround you.

In this article, I’m going to show you how this magic happens. In reality, I’m not going to provide you with any information you couldn’t garner for yourself if you were so inclined. In this blog I’ll cover the Magic Kingdom and leave the other parks to your own discoveries.

Let’s start with Main Street. The most commonly used technique along this thoroughfare is to hide speakers behind vents. Since many structures have openings to allow for air circulation, this is the perfect spot to place a speaker.


Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker


Another common practice is to design the speaker into the structure.


Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker

Main Street Speaker


Out on The Hub we see the vent method used again as well as hiding a speaker in a lamp pole.


Hub Speakers

Hub Speakers

Hub Speakers

Hub Speakers


Many of the melodies played on Main Street are old standards that hearken back to a simpler time. A number of these songs, like “In the Hills of Old Kentucky” and “Kentucky Home” are performed by the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and are available for sale on Amazon. Disney’s 1963 movie “Summer Magic” and his 1967 film “The Happiest Millionaire” both provide music for Main Street. The stories in both of these movies took place around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century so the theming is correct. The same can be said for the three Broadway musicals represented. Oklahoma, The Music Man, and Hello Dolly were all set in this same era.

Tomorrowland doesn’t bother with trying to hide their speakers. Here the Imagineers placed them in plain site. They just disguised them to look like futuristic objects. See for yourself.


Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers

Tomorrowland Speakers


The music of Tomorrowland was performed with the use of synthesizers. Very few (if any) “traditional” instruments were used in the making of these recordings. The music also has a strong beat to emphasize energy. A sharp ear can make out “Strange Things” from the Disney/Pixar 1995 movie Toy Story. “A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” and “Now is the Time,” both from the Carousel of Progress, can also be heard. And for you old timers, “If You Had Wings” is also played.

I have to say, I was disappointed with the speakers in Mickey’s Toontown Fair. All of them that I could find were out in the open. Many times, outdoor speakers are hidden beneath bushes, but not here. The Imagineers didn’t even bother. Take a look.


Toontown Speakers

Toontown Speakers


Most of the songs played in Mickey’s Toontown Fair are from the cartoons Disney produced during the ‘30’s to the ‘50’s. “Minnie’s Yoo Hoo,” “The Country Cousin,” and “The Three Little Pigs” are just a few of the selections in store for you here.

In Fantasyland the Imagineers did a fine job of hiding the speakers.


Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speaker

Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speakers

Fantasyland Speakers


As you might expect, the music played in Fantasyland is from the many animated movies Disney produced over the years. These are the songs that we all know by heart and we could probably even sing the words. However, near Pinocchio Village Haus the music has a different theme and is Bavarian in nature.

Many of the speakers in Liberty Square are hidden in vents (like Main Street) so I didn’t take many pictures in this area. However, I do like the bird house disguise.


Liberty Square Speakers

Liberty Square Speakers

Liberty Square Speakers

Liberty Square Speakers


The music in Liberty Square is patriotic and homespun. Violins, the fife, and the dulcimer are the instruments of choice for most of these renditions. A Disney connection is also present. The song “The Sons of Liberty” from the 1957 movie Johnny Tremain is played.

This quiet music was replaced several years ago with lively marches. Sigh.

Where Main Street uses vents to hide speakers, Frontierland uses boxes. On many of the balconies and porch tops, rustic crates that blend into their surroundings can be seen.


Frontierland Speakers

Frontierland Speakers


A variation on the box theme is the barrel.


Frontierland Speakers

Frontierland Speakers


And on Splash Mountain speakers are encased in make-believe rocks.


Frontierland Speakers

Frontierland Speakers


“Oh My Darling Clementine,” “Home on the Range,” and “Happy Trails,” among a dozen other western favorites, are all on tap. Fiddles, banjos, guitars, and harmonicas make up the orchestra in Frontierland. The Disney song heard in this area is “Davy Crockett” from the 1950's TV series.

Last, but not least we come to Adventureland. Next to the entrance sign is a drum. But upon closer examination we find that it’s actually a piece of metal normally used as a vent or filter. Its multiple holes allow sound to pass right through.


Adventureland Speakers

Adventureland Speakers


On a balcony we find a lovely wicker planter. Once again, this “open” material provides the perfect place to hide a speaker. Music can easily flow through its openings.


Adventureland Speakers

Adventureland Speakers


This final picture is of the Pirate’s Stage near Pirates of the Caribbean. In this case a speaker is hidden in a birdcage.


Adventureland Speakers

Adventureland Speakers


When entering Adventureland, much of the music heard is played on the marimba with a tribal African beat. In many ways, it sounds similar to the music heard in the Animal Kingdom.

As you move further into Adventureland the music takes on a Middle Eastern theme.

And finally, the music from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies can be heard in Caribbean Plaza.

I didn’t want to take away all of your fun, so I’ve only covered the Magic Kingdom in this blog. I’ll let you discover your own musical moments in the other parks. But before I go, I’d like to share one of my favorite bits of Disney trivia.

In the attraction “it’s a small world” we all know that there are two counter melodies that play against each other. But in reality, there is a third melody heard on this ride. As you pass the Switzerland section, a young boy, perched high and to the right, yodels this other tune. But there’s more to the story. Let’s travel to Blizzard Beach. Among the many songs played here is this same young boy yodeling the third part to “it’s a small world.”



The previous post in this blog was Great Movie Ride (Repeat).

The next post in this blog is Quiz - The People of Disney - Questions.

Comments (25)

cathy mullen:

Hi,
This was so interesting so the next time we visit I'm going to be more aware of the music and look for these speakers.
I'm wondering about DL. When I visited there was not any music playing while walking down MainStreet which was very disappointing.
Infact I don't remember hearing music anywhere

Lance:

Thanks for the musical tour, Jack. It was amazing to me how many of those objects appear in my own pictures (either as focal points themselves or simply in the background of views I like), but I've never known that they were the source of the music. The Liberty Square birdhouse is one in particular that I never would have suspected.

Good luck with the new house! You've done an amazing job of not letting us down while you've been out.

Josh:

hey Jack
Most of the speakers in the parks are very well hidden. I would have never guessed where some of them were before this blog and now I am glad I know. can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Still an interesting blog 4 years on....

I agree that the Toontown fair speakers could have shown some more creativity. Those are the type of speakers my company installs in higher end residences, but we always camouflage them with plants or stones or other landscaping materials.

Also, while "rock" speakers are pretty common in the outdoor audio world, we always camouflage them with real rocks set around them (and usually some plants). They don't stick out so much visually when you do this.

Some of the enclosures were incredibly creative and hidden - bravo Disney! But I was suprised that this same level of detail was not shown throughout the park.

I realize this is an old blog Jack, but do you have any pictures of the speakers/sound system in the NEW Fantasyland expansion?

Keep up the great work - look forward to you nex blog!

Your friend,

Dan

Matt:

To be honest, one of the memories of my Disney visits that stay with me is the music I hear played at the parks. I've often noticed that the music they play in evenings and especially as you leave the park, while still lively, is more subdued.

Some of the music they play isn't obvious to figure out where it comes from. For example, I've been trying to find out what they play in the queue line of Soarin' and where can I find the mix that Disney uses?

Anyways, glad I read this old blog of yours, Jack.

Jack's Answer:

I'm familiar with several of the pieces played in "Soarin'", but at the moment I can only remember the main theme from the movie "Dave." I also think they play music from "The Right Stuff," but I don't remember for sure.

Erik:

Jack, not sure how I missed this one the first time it ran, but I'm glad I got to finally read this gem! You never cease to amaze me with the ideas you come up with for blogs about The World. Would you ever consider writing a blog about how you spend your time at the parks when you're not "working" at them? I'd really like to know what touring the parks is like for you and what you do when you're there doing something other than rushing in to take pictures before too many guests arrive. Thanks!

Jack's Answer:

You would be disappointed with my touring of the parks. LOL

A typical "non-research" park tour goes something like this (it doesn't matter which park). I arrive between 10:30 and 11. I usually go directly to a counter-service restaurant and have a leisurely lunch (sometimes table-service). After lunch I circle the park slowly, stopping in at a few of my favorite shops. I might ride one ride or see one attraction, but that's usually all. I usually leave around 1 or 1:30.

Now if I'm taking out-of-town guests to the a park, it's entirely different. That would take a full page to describe.

Mary Beth:

Hello! Jack,

Enjoying the repeats. Really like this one. It is interesting to see how they do such a good job of covering up where the music comes from. Best wishes on your move and the new house. Thank you for the wonderful job you do.

Jill Hogg:

Hey Jack,

I know you would like for us to search for ourselves, but many of us can't get down there so easily. If you run out of ideas, I would love to see a blog like this for the other parks. This behind the scenes kind of stuff just fascinates me.

Good luck with your move!

Glenn:

Hi Jack. Fun article. One thing I noticed once was that as I was entering Tomorrowland, the melody that was playing was a more modern version of the same song that was playing at the center of the park. It slowly transitioned between the different styles of the same song as you crossed the bridge. Anyone else notice this?

Hi Jack -

An Old Jack Column is better than No Jack Column! Thanks for keeping us entertained during your move. The 1st time I went to the Magic Kingdom was in March of 1978 - I don't remember being overly aware of the music, however it must have registered subconsciously. I say that because a few months later I went to Great Adventure in NJ and immediately noticed the lack of music throughout the entire park; the last trip I made there was in the late 90's and there was still no music.

I do find myself whistling and humming the music throughout the theme parks on my WDW visits, I especially like MK's Main St and Epcot's Innoventions area music.

Again, all the best with your move!

- Jeff

Casey:

Thank you for sharing this blog again. I absolutely love the music playing in the parks. I completely agree that I believe we would notice if there was no music playing. I am curious about something though if anyone can help me out with this. I know that there are websites that you can go to and here the music that is playing in the parks at but I am curious if anyone knows if there is a satellite radio station that plays the Disney music. I am not talking about Radio Disney but plays the actual music played in the parks. I would love to find a satellite radio station that did so I could hear the wonderful music in the car while I am riding. Thanks again for the blog and reminding me again why I love Disney World so much!

Tina:

There is a radio station called MW radio, the app is available for i phones.

To Matt who wanted to know the music they play in the queue for Soarin':

I have been looking for that music for years. I'm talking about the synthesizer based music that accompanies the giant moving artwork. What i have discovered is that that artwork is actually an interactive game for people in line. Except it hardly ever works. But the music for the game is kept on ad the art images just randomly change. I have been told that the music was written by the game developer. But I have been unable to track anything else down. You can go to www micechat com and do a search for "Soarin' Queue Music" and see the thread.

BTW - We are not talking about the orchestral music of movie themes heard at other parts of the attraction.

Hope this helps.

Dan

Michael :

Hi:

Is there anywhere that I could purchase some of the background music that is played in WDW?

Thanks, and thanks as well for a great article,

Michael

Bill:

Cool article! Like you said, the music is everywhere, but it never occurred to me to look for the sources.

I especially like the music in Future World at Epcot. It's somehow relaxing and upbeat at the same time.

Mala:

I have a funny story about the music at disney. My husband does not get much time off of work so my boys and I go to disney w/out him(my husband has never been-GASP). I will be honest, I always knew there was music playing at the parks but I've never really paid any attention to it (or so I thought). I came home from one of my recent trips to disney and I was humming disney songs. My husband was like "what is that song?". I wasn't sure!! I know I had heard it from disney but I had no idea it had sunk into my brain! lol! You're right..we would surely would notice if the music was NOT there (even if we don't realize we're listening when it IS) :) It's such an important part of the entire 'disney experience'.

Adam August:

The sound track on Main Street was just recently replaced, in January or February 2013, I believe, and the "Summer Magic" themes are no longer there.

Cheryl:

I've always noticed the music at Disney World. In fact that's one of the things that really impresses me about WDW, that they pay attention to such small details. It's not just in the parks or the resorts. The music on the buses even changes to match the park or resort you are entering. And one of my best memories is entering Animal Kingdom early one morning before the crowds built up. There were peaceful sights, smells and sounds, including an acoustic guitar version of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King". It just made me feel so happy. I always tell people that, as an example of how a Disney trip is an experience like none other.

hobbes and snorky:

I agree with the earlier post that recommended Mouseworld radio. I have that on in the background whilst I work on my computer. Snorky frequently comes in to find Wishes blasting out and me sobbing! It also has a lot of the old music from long lost rides from Epcot...Its fun to be free....

Nathaniel powe:

I love your blogs Jack! This was very interesting!

Kelsey:

Hey Jack, this is off topic, but I found this and i thought you or one of your readers might be interested. It is some vintage disney fabric that I found on etsy. Its too expensive for me, but I thought it was so cool I had to share it. It could be a great piece. BTW i don't know the seller I just thought this was really cool!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/123642495/vintage-1950s-disney-fabric-disneyland

Gary:

Your reports are just as good the second time around...(like traveling to WDW on repeat visits). Is your new backyard a stone's throw away from WDW, BTW? Will you be able to see nightly fireworks? (A Golden Oaks Community experience without paying the big, 7-figure, bucks).
Happy New Home!

Colette:

Jack, I love your blogs! This particular one had me amazed and facinated. I returned last week and remember standing on Main Street USA and the music started and I remember looking directly at the cinema/confectionary building (the one in the picture about) because the music was very loud and wondring if a speaker was located there.

Susan :

Hi Jack- great article as always!

One of my favorite pieces of Magic Kingdom music that took a while to track down was the instrumental played on the train between Tomorrowland and Main Street.

The name of it is "Night Fire Dance" by Andreas Vollenweider. Listen on YouTube and it will bring back memories for sure.

I hope this helps people who haven't known what that song was or who the artist was. It's more difficult without lyrics, lol!

Susan in Naples

My husband and I took the "Keys to the Kingdom" tour at the Magic Kingdom. As the tour began a parade was going by and our guide told us to look at the windows along Main Street. We looked up and some of them were open with speakers inside. As the parade ended they closed. While this might be just for parade music, it is one other way the speakers are "hidden".

Post a comment


Return to Blog Central

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 18, 2013 8:13 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Great Movie Ride (Repeat).

The next post in this blog is Quiz - The People of Disney - Questions.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.