Disneyland’s ‘Soundsational Summer’ — Behind the Music

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Since Mickey Mouse first whistled his way into entertainment history in “Steamboat Willie” (the first animated cartoon with synchronized sound), music has been one of the cornerstones of Disney enchantment, from movies and television to recordings and, of course, Theme Parks. And since magnificent music is one of the most magical forces behind the spectacular experiences you’ll enjoy during Disney Soundsational Summer at the Disneyland Resort, Disneyland asked three experts, who specialize in this artistry, to share some insider views.

Wondrous waves of oceanic octaves
Now, Disney California Adventure Park is the place to experience one of the most elaborate ride-through attractions ever inspired by a Walt Disney Pictures animated feature: The Little Mermaid~Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. And as you voyage through this fantastic world — seeing the story unfold before your eyes in a blend of Audio-Animatronics® wizardry and special effects in the tradition of some of the most beloved Disney Parks attractions — the songs of multiple Academy Award® winners Alan Menken and Howard Ashman will be with you all the way.

“To create the music for the attraction, we brought in the multitalented Danny Troob, who is a long-time collaborator with Alan Menken as the orchestrator on the animated film versions of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, as well as ‘The Little Mermaid’ on Broadway,” said John Dennis, Director, Music Production, Walt Disney Imagineering. “We worked with Danny to combine elements from the original feature film soundtrack to create a seamless music experience for the attraction.”

So, what you’ll hear is the voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, singing “Part of Your World,” and the voice of Ursula, Pat Carroll, singing “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as you heard them in the film, woven into new music that flows from scene to scene in the attraction.

When the directors of the landmark Walt Disney Pictures animated film, The Little Mermaid, recently experienced The Little Mermaid~Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, they were thrilled. As John recalled, “They said that it was really wonderful to see that, after 20-plus years, Ariel actually got her own dedicated attraction!”

Some of the most magnificent music in the galaxy
Now at Disneyland Park, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue blasts you into all-new interstellar voyages throughout a galaxy “far, far away.” But while the attraction will take you to destinations unknown, from core systems to the Outer Rim, the Star Wars” experience wouldn’t be complete without the iconic musical score by multiple Academy Award®-winning composer, John Williams.

“John came to Walt Disney Imagineering and we told him what our plans were,” recalled John Dennis. “He said, ‘Great! How can I help?’ He was really terrific to us. We were planning to record completely new versions of his Star Wars” themes. He said, ‘You know, we’ve got some 15 hours of music that was recorded for the feature films. I think we can find enough music in the film scores to use in the attraction.'”

After several weeks of music editorial, that is exactly what happened. John and his music editor worked closely with Walt Disney Imagineering to create the music track you’ll hear in the “main show” portion of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. In fact, Williams’ music is so central to the Star Wars” experience, you’ll enjoy his iconic themes throughout your journey through the entire Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction.

Star Tours:The Adventures Continue will be a feast for all the senses. But the ears will have the especially delightful treat of hearing so much of John Williams’ memorable music — those rousing, exciting themes we associate with so many favorite Star Wars characters and how we thrilled to their fantastic adventures.

A glorious procession of Disney delights
A new kind of musical approach now literally “floats” down Main Street, U.S.A. now that Mickey’s Soundsational Parade made its Disneyland Park premiere last month.

“They’re all classic Disney songs,” said John Addis, Senior Show Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment. “Plus, there’s a new ‘Soundsational’ theme written by Mark Hammond, who also did all the arrangements for the parade.”

Every float has its own color palette and musical style, from Mickey doing a “friendly drum competition” to a new version of “Mickey Mouse March” to Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie and Abu appearing in an “Arabian Nights meets Bollywood” float with such tunes as “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali.” The princess float features “I See the Light” from Tangled; a New Orleans riverboat celebrates Dixieland jazz and Cajun zydeco in songs like “Almost There” and “Dig a Little Deeper” from The Princess and the Frog; and much more.

Music, color and magic on the water
“Mark Hammond arranged our World of Color music,” said John, referring to the Disney California Adventure spectacle — in which fountains, animation, pyrotechnics and effects fuse into unforgettable sights and sounds. “We produced the soundtrack in London with a 100-piece orchestra at the famous Abbey Road studio. The music came out exceedingly well, with a lot of fanciful musical themes to support the visuals in the show.

“It has its roots in the theme from Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color that the Sherman Brothers wrote for the Sunday night television series. The song was given a fresh, new sound that sets the whole show up.

“There are some fantastic visual elements in World of Color with technology that most people have never seen,” said John. “There are nearly 400-foot-long walls of fountains with gigantic projections. The music needs to be just as expansive and it really steps up to all that impact and scope.”

Rounding out all this Disney Soundsational Summer enchantment is a nighttime fireworks extravaganza so magical that it’s called simply that: Magical, A Fireworks Spectacular.

As a Disney veteran, Bruce Healy, Senior Music Director and Producer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment, told us that this extravaganza was “truly another labor of love.” The first act is all about the magic of childhood, based on Walt Disney Pictures’ Peter Pan. The next act is the magic of a wish based on Walt Disney Pictures’ Pinocchio. Another is the magic of a mother’s love, so beautifully presented in Walt Disney Pictures’ Dumbo. And the last act celebrates the magic of a kiss, inspired by Disney Princesses.

“The score is sung by Eden Espinosa, who played Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway,” said Bruce. “She is especially dear to our hearts, since she used to be one of our Disneyland Park performers! Eden sings the Magical theme.” Some of the other songs are “Give a Little Whistle,” “Heigh-Ho” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” — which is one of our biggest moments, because the fireworks seem to do a big ‘kick line’ in the sky.

“I think my favorite moment features one of my all-time favorite songs from a Walt Disney Pictures film, ‘Baby Mine.’ Not only does Tinker Bell fly over Sleeping Beauty Castle, but Dumbo does, tooand there really is not a dry eye in the house.”

Clearly, Magical, A Fireworks Spectacular is more than just a fireworks show. But then, this won’t be just another summer if you visit Disneyland Resort and enjoy all the wonders that await. You just may find yourself using the only word that seems to encompass all the dazzling experiences…”Soundsational!”

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