Robert Niles

Published: June 30, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Spot-on commentary there, Jonah. Thank you!

In addition to what you've mentioned, I love Alan Menken's theme song for the Sindbad's Storybook Voyage at Tokyo DisneySea. Robert Moline's "Golden Dream" never fails to get me, too, and the entire soundtrack of Impressions de France remains an international treasure.

Tim Chatlos

Published: June 30, 2013 at 2:43 PM

I've always thought the way the music through Comic Strip Lane at Islands of Adventure subtly shifts between the characters as you walk down the street is rather brilliant. It's a little like parade music except the scenery stays put and the guests float by at their own pace.
Chris S

Published: June 30, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Just as music is vital to setting the mood in a film, music is equally vital when we ourselves are in the middle of a story in a theme park. Mentioned above are plenty of favorite music moments of mine, particularly music that is used in Islands of Adventure. Of course, Disney has always done an exceptional job of creating music for its attractions, whether it's catchy songs like "It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" or sweeping, inspiring orchestral melodies, like the "Illuminations" soundtrack. I once heard a commentator say that a good movie score can stand on its own, without the help of the visuals of the film. I think the same goes for good theme park music.
Eric Olivero

Published: June 30, 2013 at 3:20 PM

One of my favorite background/attraction soundtrack is Ellen's Energy Adventure.

This article reminds me of a presentation I did in college about John Williams in a room of mostly non-musicians, and I played parts of different movie soundtracks for the students to identify which movie it was from. The idea was to show them how music plays an important role in making us remember situations and events, in this case a movie.

M. Ryan Traylor

Published: June 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I'm a big fan of Condor Flats, Soarin's queue, and of course Soarin' itself. That area is filled with great cues from "Dave", "Air Force One", "Rocketeer", "The American President" and more.
Jorge Arnoldson

Published: June 30, 2013 at 3:41 PM

I love the queue music for Dollywood's Wild Eagle. It sets everyone up for a majestic flight on a steel eagle over the park's hills.
Jonah Sirota

Published: June 30, 2013 at 3:45 PM

"It's a little like parade music except the scenery stays put and the guests float by at their own pace."

Yes, I think this is a mark of good sound design in a park. It's almost like being on an omnimover ride. The park itself is another E-ticket.

Tracy Bates

Published: June 30, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Universal also uses the speakers throughout the park to full effect for special events. If you come to Halloween Horror Nights, for instance, the speakers are playing the sounds of people being disemboweled in the bushes, so it makes the friendly park seem menacing at night.

Published: June 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM

It's funny you mentioned the music at IOA. I have all three variations of the CD they released years ago. They go for over $100 on eBay.
Rob Pastor

Published: June 30, 2013 at 7:37 PM

This is an excellent article. THANK YOU!
Eric G

Published: June 30, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Very nice article. Universal's Islands of Adventure is certainly the champ when it comes to theme park soundtracks and the audio system.
Andrew Swanson

Published: June 30, 2013 at 8:28 PM

The opening act of Tokyo DisneySEA is beautiful.
The area outside the entrance plaza as you walk from the monorail past the ticket booths (because you already bought your ticket) transitions into the Aquasphere plaza, which then transitions into the Mediterranean Harbor loop.
Tim Chatlos

Published: June 30, 2013 at 8:46 PM

Was the music from Comic Strip Lane ever released on CD or elsewhere? The only tracks I've heard come from the official soundtrack and those don't seem to be the same as what plays in that section of the park, particularly the lack of the character vocals.
Bryce McGibeny

Published: June 30, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Universal's Islands of Adventure Port of Entry music takes the cake for me! The way it shifts from the gates, to the main street, then to the plaza in front of the lagoon. It is perfection.

I also love Epcot's entry music, and of course, the JP theme in Islands of Adventure.

I think just the music in general around Epcot and Islands of Adventure is pretty darn good. It's funny because those are my two favorite parks.

Robert Niles

Published: June 30, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Every theme park that makes the effort to create a soundtrack for the park ought to release that soundtrack for sale to fans. Surely there are ways to make that happen.

Jonah Sirota

Published: July 1, 2013 at 4:55 AM

"Every theme park that makes the effort to create a soundtrack for the park ought to release that soundtrack for sale to fans."
Hear, hear!!! This isn't quite the same thing, but my sister and I used to wear out a tape called 'Walt Disney World's Greatest Hits.' It had the Pirates of the Caribbean song, the Haunted Mansion song, and Baroque Hoedown from the Main Street Electrical Parade. I miss that tape, and there's nothing like that now, unless I'm willing to spend serious $$$ on eBay.
Duncan Henny

Published: July 1, 2013 at 5:44 AM

@N B I too own all three versions of the islands soundtracks
I wouldn't have paid $100 though I managed to track them down online
I love all the theme park music I have most of the seaworld tracks as well I do wish they would release them on cd again though because I have noticed some different versions played at islands that are not on the three CDs that they did
Russell Meyer

Published: July 1, 2013 at 6:57 AM

I was a huge fan of the soundtrack at Hard Rock Park, which was conceived by some of the same creative people that designed IOA. The soundtrack used well-know music, but put a spin on the songs by remixing them to match the theme of each land. A country-western banjo-pickin' version of "Crazy Train" elicited a chuckle every time. The music was so well synchronized that you could walk between lands and listen to the music transition from one style to another.

Some of the best original theme park music I've heard typically comes from shows, perhpas because it's more noticeable than background music in the parks. I'm always grabbed by the soundtrack to Sea World's Blue Horizons, and I've loved the old Electric Light Parade music and remember listening to it on vinyl back in the day.

I do enjoy the Fantasmic! music, and find myself humming it for hours after the show ends much like I used to do following the original Illuminations soundtrack, not so much with the newer Illuminations music though.

travis traymoore

Published: July 1, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Go on YouTube and type in "epcot earworm". It's the music between the innoventio s and by far the catchiest theme park music I've ever heard
Aaron McMahon

Published: July 1, 2013 at 7:59 PM

IOA's Port of Entry music is great. It really makes you feel like you are about to enter a magical and other worldly place.

The music in the front square of Epcot's Future World is brings a lot of the optimistic modernism that defines the park.

Top Thrill Dragster using the 90's Brit Pop song Ready to Go to pump ump riders in the station.

Anon Mouse

Published: July 2, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Good artists borrow (copy). Great artists steal. I think John Williams is the latter.
Brandon Townsend

Published: July 2, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Great article. I have always loved the background music in theme parks and it's even better when movie scores are integrated into the theming at parks. (I can't wait to hear the theme to Star Wars at the new parks at Disney.) And I agree with several other comments that amusement park music should be more readily available on iTunes or CD. And Robert is right about Impressions de France. My family and I love that music and listening to it or Soarin' is so evocative it makes us feel that we are right there in the park. Listening to some Disney or Epcot background music makes me feel like a child again.

Check out Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 soundtrack for some great amusement park themes.

E Ticket

Published: July 2, 2013 at 2:32 PM

I also love transitional moments, like the twinkling chimes leading from Seuss into Lost Continent, or the rock guitars literally pouring out of the steam-grates in the streets in Marvel Superhero Island.