Whistle. Hum. Sing. While strolling about the Magic Kingdom it’s hard to not do one of these things at any point in time. To play along with the movie theme from my previous post, sound in the Magic Kingdom is also an important element to incorporating the 5 senses into Walt’s movie idea.
Sound is a crucial element to a well-themed park, and this is easily achieved through music. Music can be heard throughout the Magic Kingdom, starting from the opening day performance, The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, and ending with Wishes, narrated by Jiminy Cricket.
Main Street USA is the place to start. As a former actress in “The Music Man,” whenever I hear the theme around Main Street and town square, I think of the “Wells Fargo” song. This is very fitting for Walt’s vision of Main Street USA being a part of the small town Kansas City suburb from his childhood. As the Music Man was set in small town Iowa in 1912, this type of music is perfect for setting the small town charm scene.
To keep with the theme of a typical small town, if you duck down one of the side streets on the right hand side and listen closely, you can hear someone giving a piano lesson on the second floor! It’s this attention to detail that separates MK from any other theme park.
However, as soon as you leave the Main Street and Cinderella castle hub and proceed into the different lands, you start to hear changes in music to incorporate the different themes. In Imagineering terms, this is called a “scene change”, which is very much appropriate for the movie theme. While scene changes don’t seem like a big deal, to Imagineers that simple transition is important. Unless you are paying close attention, it will be hard to notice that transition at all, until you are fully standing in the next land. For starters, the music in each of the lands is in the same key, so the transition is easy on the ears. Secondly, the speakers playing the different music are positioned just so you get a “fade in-fade out” effect. This is done by some speakers facing towards you as you enter the land, and others facing away from you as you exit. As you are walking from Liberty Square to Frontierland, the Frontierland music will be facing you, and vice-versa. There is only one spot where this music transition cannot be found, and that is the scene change from tomorrow land to fantasyland, and this is because the Imagineers couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate the music together, without sounding silly. Next time you’re at the MK, try to find that “Background music-less spot”.
The musical fun doesn’t stop at the different lands, either. Many rides feature background music and songs that will have you humming well after you dis-embark from the attraction. Two of my favorites are the Haunted Mansions (where ghosts come to socialize!) and the different songs in Splash Mountain (Laughing place, zip-a-dee-do-da).
However, if you have a real soft spot for classic Disney tunes, then Mickey’s Philharmagic is for you. This ride incorporates all of the senses (except for taste) in Walt’s vision for a senses movie, and it is filled with Disney music classics and really is a must-do for the Magic Kingdom.
Whether it’s singing “yo-ho” with captain Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean, or listening to the subtle sounds of Main Street USA, you will never find yourself standing amongst silence in the Magic Kingdom.
Contributed by: Kim M. (NDI#85). Kim is our resident Imaginerd and hopeful future Imagineer.