Theme Park Insider

Vote of the Week: What is the Best Theme Song for a Theme Park Attraction?

December 5, 2014, 11:43 AM · What's your favorite song in a theme park attraction? Music provides an integral part of many theme park attractions, but on a handful of classic attractions, music is more than an accompaniment. On these rides and shows, theme songs help tell the story and provide a memorable "earworm" that stays with us, reminding us of our visit for many days to come.

But which of these theme songs is the best theme song? Let's leave out the many songs composed for various live shows, area soundtrack loops, and opening ceremonies. We're talking about theme songs, with lyrics, written specifically for theme park attractions, and that did not appear previously in some associated movie.

We've got so many candidates for you today that we're splitting the choice into two votes: one featuring theme songs written before 1970, and another for songs that debuted after that date. To help you pass the time on this Friday in December, we've also selected video clips of each of these songs, so you can kill a half an hour at your computer enjoying some of the best music ever written for theme parks.

So, please, listen to the tunes, pick your favorites, and vote! We will put the two winners up against each other in a champion's vote next week. Here are the candidates:

Vote #1: What's the Best Theme Park Attraction Song from before 1970?

The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room
From The Enchanted Tiki Room
Music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman (theme song starts at 1:48)

It's a Small World (After All)
From It' a Small World
Music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman

There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
From Carousel of Progress
Music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman

Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)
From Pirates of the Caribbean
Lyrics by Xavier Atencio, Music by George Bruns

Grim Grinning Ghosts
From The Haunted Mansion
Lyrics by Xavier Atencio, Music by Buddy Baker


Vote #2: What's the Best Theme Park Attraction Song since 1970?

If You Had Wings
From If You Had Wings
Music and Lyrics by Buddy Baker

Golden Dream
From The American Adventure
Lyrics by Randy Bright, additional lyrics by Lynn Hart, Music by Robert Moline

It's Fun to Be Free
From World of Motion
Lyrics by Xavier Atencio, Music by Buddy Baker

One Little Spark
From Journey Into Imagination
Music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman

Compass of Your Heart
From Sindbad's Storybook Voyage
Music and lyrics by Alan Menken


Debate the choices in the comments. And thank you, as always, for being part of the Theme Park Insider community. May you happily be humming these tunes all week!

Replies (21)

December 5, 2014 at 11:59 AM · At the 2009 IAAPA show in Las Vegas, Richard Sherman talked about writing these songs for Walt, and performed several of them live> Here my report from that event, which includes an audio link to Sherman's performance, at the end of the post.

His slow version of It's a Small World will change the way you hear that song from now on.

December 5, 2014 at 12:02 PM · I voted Pirates and One Little Spark, but would have liked to have seen the other COP song "Best Time of Your Life." I don't know when it was written, but it would have gotten my vote in either of the polls.
December 5, 2014 at 12:10 PM · I personally think this a brilliant idea. Music takes you back to the ride you loved on vacation.

Music and movies are also great together. Original music like Batman, Superman and Star Wars were all great.

How about the music tuned to the fireworks at Disney Magic Kingdom – Wishes.
Great Job Robert!

December 5, 2014 at 12:57 PM · I really wish that zip a dee do dah was on the second ballet. That is just a fun song in my opinion that I belive would give one little spark a run for its money.
December 5, 2014 at 1:17 PM · I picked: Grim Grining Ghosts > Yo Ho Yo Ho > The Tiki Room > it's a small world > There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.

Golden Dreams = One Little Spark > Compass of Your Heart > If You Had Wings > It's Fun to be Free.

Remember Dreams Come True > Wishes for fireworks music.

December 5, 2014 at 1:54 PM · Grim Grining Ghosts----I love the Haunted Mansion!
December 5, 2014 at 3:46 PM · This was beyond hard -- so much great music! Love "Yo Ho", but there's just something about the bird banter that makes the Tiki Room the winner for me in the first category.

The second was even worse -- I've always loved "If You Had Wings" and "Fun to be Free"... and "Golden Dreams" is just wonderful. But "One Little Spark" is a perfect song from a perfect ride that I will forever miss.

Thanks for this, Robert!

December 5, 2014 at 2:05 PM · What about that all time classic: Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit.
December 5, 2014 at 2:10 PM · This is a lot of fun, and it makes me sad that very few rides/attractions come with a completely original soundtrack.
I imagine you had a method to choosing the nominated songs based on hits to your site, but I have to say I am really disappointed that the theme to Six Flags Over Georgia's terrific Monster Plantation/Mansion didn't make the list.
I'm sure the majority of TPI readers are not as familiar with Monster Plantation/Mansion as the Disney attractions, but the theme song is great, and when the attraction was refurbished several years ago, they even issued a CD with both the original and new versions of the song.
And there you have my $.02.
December 5, 2014 at 2:33 PM · I believe that the best theme park song is the end credits for Jurassic Park.
December 5, 2014 at 3:19 PM · The first one was tough as I love all those songs. It came down to a choice between Yo Ho and Grim Grinning Ghosts, and I ended up going with the latter because while I like Pirates of the Caribbean better the song does get a bit monotonous.

I didn't vote for the second one because I'm not all that familiar with the songs (may listen later and vote), but I will say that every time I see a video of Sindbad I'm reminded how great that ride seems to be (even if I can't understand what they're saying).

December 5, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah surely would give these songs a run for their money, but it was not written for a theme park attraction. It was composed for the film "Song of the South", released in 1946.
December 5, 2014 at 9:16 PM · I nominate Eureka!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBwrNhJbCUg

Forgotten, but a good song.

December 6, 2014 at 4:28 AM · We were still singing this one after a 20-hour flight back to Australia!

Kidnap the Sandy Claws from Haunted Mansion Holiday.
http://youtu.be/WieoGqAqg9E?t=1m30s

My overall favourites though, came from the SpectroMagic parade and Fantasmic opening & closing themes :)

December 6, 2014 at 7:57 AM · I agree with the song of the south comment, but let's face it, Disney doesn't want to admit that movie exists. Every younger theme park fan will say that song is from Splash Mountain, not "Song of the South."
December 6, 2014 at 9:47 AM · Why, Oh Why did they ever get rid of Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit?
December 7, 2014 at 5:41 PM · Cha Cha Cha!

Anyway, I am surprised that the Tiki Room is not doing better!

December 8, 2014 at 9:51 AM · @Anthony: I agree on Tiki, and immediately regretted not voting for it once I saw the tally. A favorite, it's an ear worm, but doesn't irritate folks the way Small World often does. Tough choices this week.

For more on many of these tunes, check out the Sherman brother's documentary, The Boys, if you haven't seen it. Amazing, and now available on Netflix streaming.

December 8, 2014 at 11:59 AM · I second Joseph's vote for the Sherman brother's documentary. It's very interesting and quite bittersweet...

The folks that have brought up "Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit" -- whether in jest or not :-) -- make me think of all the other great songs that aren't on this list, or that are long gone. Anyone else remember the original song that played in the Land's boat ride -- "Listen to the land we all love..." -- or the theme song to the first 3D film housed in the Imagination pavilion -- "Magic Journeys"? THAT was a trippy little film -- fascinating, a little nostalgic and somewhat creepy, all at the same time.

December 8, 2014 at 8:52 PM · Neither of the results of these votes are any surprise to me. ;)
December 8, 2014 at 9:23 PM · The Sherman Brothers documentary is a must see! One of the best documentaries I have ever seen. It should have been up for an Oscar.

Interesting that all of them are Disney. I am not surprised in the results for first, but it seems that Disney has the theme park corner on this.

As much as we all hate Its a Small World, it is a song that does exactly what it is meant to do. Plus, it has a very good message.

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