In Depth: The Complexity and Technical Genius Behind Theme Park Music

I love Disney theme park music. In fact it’s most definitely the “genre” of music that fills the most space in my iPod. And the sad part is, it plays constantly all day with little to no recognition.

So here’s a little info about the music geniuses behind it all and a quick showcase of the awesome music itself.

Bruce Broughton

Bruce Broughton is one of the creative minds behind the music heard in the theme parks. More specifically, he was the composer for the following:

  • O Canada! Film – 2007 Arrangement (World Showcase, Epcot)
  • Spaceship Earth (Future World, Epcot)
  • One Man’s Dream (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure (Future World, Epcot)
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! (Future World, Epcot)
  • The Timekeeper (Extinct – Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom)
  • The Making of Me (Extinct – Future World, Epcot)

These are arguably some of the best themes in the parks. Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience are some of my all-time favorites.

Sherman Brothers

Another theme park legend (among other things) here, Robert and Richard Sherman are responsible for so many catchy themes of the theme parks. There include:

  • “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” (Carousel of Progress, MK)
  • “It’s a Small World” (it’s a small world, Magic Kingdom)
  • “One Little Spark” (Journey Into Imagination, Epcot)
  • “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (Great Movie Ride, DHS)
  • “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” (Enchanted Tiki Room, Magic Kingdom)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (All Songs)

As a matter of fact it was “One Little Spark” that made me realize the complexity of the theme park music. I posted this on #ConfessFriday on Twitter one day. I got back a couple of responses, but one that stood out to me was by @ThemeParkDaily who said this:

“Not nerdy at all, lots of Disney Park music is technically brilliant.”

Very true, I think. Now let’s take a look at our final composers.

Xavier Atencio + Buddy Baker

More commonly known as “X” Atencio, he and Baker composed one of my favorite tunes and rides – “Grim, Grinning Ghosts” in The Haunted Mansion. X also wrote the lyrics to “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)”, while Baker arranged the music for Impressions de France.

Your thoughts?

It’s sometimes hard to recognize and appreciate the Disney theme park music because it is always so well integrated and themed that we don’t consciously notice it. But that’s what makes it work so well, and that’s why it’s so complex.

What are your thoughts? What is your favorite music in the parks? Share your thoughts on all this in the comments.

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