Monday, April 30, 2012

A Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World

For some time since this blog began, I've been pondering ways to make the history of Walt Disney World seem more alive to the casual reader. If you're steeped in the research, the photos, and putting together the puzzle pieces, it's easy to lose sight of how the material reads on the page: to the experienced theme park goer, the myriad sensory pleasures the parks provide doesn't seem to translate to looking at photos of Otto Rabbe. History becomes textbook.

Thrills n' Chills of Olde World Antiques
Perhaps a photo essay would do? Or a virtual tour of Walt Disney World, from landing at McCoy Airbase in your Eastern jet to arriving at the Polynesian Village? Or perhaps some sort of animated slideshow or edited home movies of the era?

Eventually these ideas gelled with a longstanding concept to create an audio tour of the Magic Kingdom of the past. What era would it be? How far back could I realistically expect to wind the clock? Twenty years? Thirty years? At the time I had this idea, it seemed a pipe dream to even conceive of such a thing. But after years of contact and online connection with like minded people, the dream seemed more reasonable year by year. Previously unknown and unsuspected details about the resort's first ten years were coming to light, from photos to old background music.

The starting pistol for this project turned out to be a site called Walt's Music, which for some time had been posting treasures plundered from the Jack Wagner archives. Then, one day, it finally appeared: scratchy but still good quality source music for If You Had Wings. That was in June. I thought it would be a simple project to rebuild the rest of the park. I finished that project last week.

What I ended up creating was a flowing experience of the entire park localized around about 1977. Space Mountain was new, and Big Thunder Mountain was still several years away. Unlike the Disneyland Records style of music releases best typified by the 2005 Musical History of Disneyland, I have avoided the familiar interior attraction soundtracks and instead focused on park ambiance, background music, and relatively obscure pieces of music. I ended up consulting pretty much everyone who has some connection to Walt Disney World history research and referenced hours of live recordings, home videos, and photographs to aid me in my research.


It's ready for you now. I call it....


You will need a torrent client, such as uTorrent, and a MouseBits account

Download: ZIP Version
Hosted on the Progress City, USA WorldKey System

Download: ZIP Version via OnlineFileFolder
Thanks to Suzannah DiMarzio for uploading this here

Thanks to Jeff Lipack for uploading this here

What's Inside:
  • 2.5 Hours of Magic Kingdom music and ambiance
  • Thirteen 256K MP3 Audio Files
  • Full If You Had Wings ride-through
  • Michael Iceberg in Concert
  • Jungle Cruise ride-through - no narration
"A Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World" booklet example
  • "Vintage" 14-page program booklet
  • 30 pages of notes, annotations, and history

What I sought to do here above all else was to give a stronger sense of both history and memory than the typical fan audio project. Besides cross-referencing all of the historical material and my supplemental research, I've included dozens of ambient sounds recorded in-park - all the streams, waterfalls, and incidental sounds which make up the textural landscape of the Magic Kingdom of our memories. And using reference recordings, I had to manufacture many more. In the process of refining and editing it - because I had to be happy with this project too - I've listened to these files hundreds of times.

I think the result is as good as I can reasonably get it. There's plenty of stuff in it that gives me cloudy nostalgia eyes while still remaining fun and fast paced. I've also discovered it's very good for visualization exercises - play it over some good speakers and close your eyes and you're there. The effect is sometimes so convincing I forget I'm in my house.

This experience was part entertainment, part exercise, and part the research equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. It's such an irrational thing to even try to do that I'm amazed I did it at all.  Relax and enjoy, this is built to be your personal time machine to an era when the Seven Seas Lagoon was bright and blue and the Magic Kingdom was just appearing on the pop cultural scene. It is the Walt Disney World you remember.... whether that be real or imagined.

39 comments:

Whatevers said...

You've done something amazing here! You've transported me from my dull, gray office of 2012 back to being a kid on a sugar high, frolicking around an amazing place for the first time. This is nothing short of magical! Well done!

Kimberly said...

Wow! Thanks for the hard work... it's loaded on my iTunes already. Thank you!!

Yorgle said...

This is really spectacular! Thank you so much for it! You really captured the essence of the park, as well as the art style for the PDF. It really reminds me of WDW from the late 70s and early 80s when I was there as a kid. :D

HBG2 said...

Let me be the first. Congratulations on putting together such an ambitious project. It's going to be well-received.

lcclench said...

Wow, this is amazing. My collection of WDW BGM didn't stretch far past the late 80's, so this opens up a whole new world of park music I haven't really been exposed to.

And now, a question. There was an odd bit of BGM that, up until the Nook opened, played in the backstage patio outside the Veranda. Sounded vaguely Middle Eastern, so I assumed it was part of the Agrabah Bazaar loop. But what was it? I'm assuming someone forgot to turn it off.

FoxxFur said...

Very glad that everyone is enjoying it. :)

Icclench: if my memory doesn't deceive me, I believe that was indeed the Agrabah Bazaar loop. I have no idea why it was playing there, as that space has been used for Lilo & Stitch and Ariel previously.

butter said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

This reminded me of why I fell in love with Disney World when I was a kid and why I can not stand it today!

Thank you!

Eric M. said...

This is absolutely terrific! I'm a long-time reader but I think this is the first time I've commented. I am a huge fan of your blog and analysis, and this music collection (and the GORGEOUS PDF guide) is awesome.

Steve Burns said...

This is just fantastic! Really brings back some memories. And it also whets my appetite to try to find the Magic of Walt Disney World recording session that was used as a source, because I have always enjoyed Buddy Baker's music in that film. Can anyone help with that?

K. Martinez said...

This is pure magic. It takes me back to my visits to WDW in 70s. Some of these I haven't heard since that time long ago.

Thank you!

Smaha18 said...

Um....not sure if it's possible since we don't actually know each other, but we're officially BFF now that this exists.

So seriously, excellent work. If we could somehow add smellitzers to the interwebs, we could all relive 1977.

weepstah said...

Foxx,

I've been semi-obsessively listening to the large archive celebrating Disneyland, in particular the Tommorowland sections featuring the attractions and music from the earliest days through the introduction of Space Mountain. Perhaps most of all, I've been listening to Adventure Thru Inner Space, the yin to If You Had Wings yang in many ways. Have I mentioned how deep an impression IYHW made on me? I do have a treasured recording from a trip made in 1983 (which I think came out very well) that I have listened to hundreds of times. But I am very much looking forward to listening to your musical souvenir. One of the failings in tribute compilations largely derived from source material is the difficulty to convey how the attraction sounded as a real experience. The hums, clacks, ambient noises, fades, echoes - so many things that are integral to putting it all in context. Thanks very much for your hard work, this is unexpected but incredibly welcome.

philphoggs said...

What a gift, thank you!

dichuy said...

I just found this and can't work through the tears in my eyes. I've been going to the park since a week after in opened in 1971. You said it all in your intro: these are the wonderful details of my memory. Music is such an important part of my life, but so are the background sounds and smells of the Magic Kingdom. I can't begin to thank you enough for this amazing tribute to the Magic Kingdom that will always hold a special place in my heart.

dichuy said...

For those of you who are looking for a more expanded selection of music:

My dad use to take the family tape recorder all over the Magic Kingdom in the 70s and tape all the background music, as well as the rides. One of our favorite tapes was from Main Street USA when it first opened. This soundtrack played for quite a long time before it was changed.

One day my dad came home with a gleam in his eye and a package in his hand. He took out an LP and put it on the record player. The entire family burst into smiles. It was the record Disney used for Main Street. Dad said it was the order of the songs that made a light bulb go off and he ran home with his purchase to make sure his hunch was right.

The album, if you'd like to purchase it, is "The Gaslight Orchestra: Gay '1890s' Waltzes. Here is a link (site owner, please delete this if you feel it is not appropriate): http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gay-1890s-waltzes/id157938454

Goodness how I miss If You Had Wings and the RCA song in Space Mountain. It makes my heart hurt sometimes when I hear the music.

FoxxFur said...

Weepsta,

Hope you enjoyed the If you Had Wings piece! It took a lot of work and I'm quite proud of it. :)

Dichuy,

Thanks very much for your feedback on my audio project! ^_^ Now, perchance, do all those tapes your Dad took at Magic Kingdom still exist? They could be literally invaluable to early music researchers such as myself. :)

the macabre gourmet said...

Simply put, this is amazing. Thank you for all your hard work, Foxx. I love this.

Major Pepperidge said...

THANK YOU!

I have been systematically going back and reading ALL of your posts from the very beginning (still have a way to go). I have a whole new appreciation for Walt Disney World, particularly the early years. So, thanks as well for your amazing blog.

dichuy said...

FoxxFur,
It breaks my heart to tell you I don't have them. I carried them around from apartment to apartment over the years (I live in Manhattan). The last time my husband and I moved the box containing all the cassette tapes (probably 40) went missing, along with all my early photos of the Magic Kingdom. I'm so sorry. Some of them were worn out from my listening to them so much. A good percentage of them were of the Dapper Dans as we are HUGE fans of them. I'm still in touch with many of them.

Also, are you aware that Bev Bergeron, who played and learned the roll of Pecos Bill from Wally Boggs, has a CD of the original Diamond Horseshoe Revue? It is put together from various fan's old video tapes (my dad use to rent a stroller and push around a car battery with a blanket over it, lol, to keep his video camera running back in the day!). Much of it is from the last performance (Diamond Jim was performed at that time by Jerry Siggins who was one of the original WDW Dapper Dans). Bev sells the video for $15 on his web site.

Darn I wish I had those tapes--I would have been more than happy to lend them to you. I never dreamed anyone cared about this stuff like I do.

If I can answer any other questions please don't hesitate to ask.

FoxxFur said...

dichuy,

Aw, well, that's really a shame. Early audio recordings of the theme parks are especially scarce. I spent a few months attempting to identify the original Tomorrowland music with no luck - even the Archives and Walt Disney Imagineering didn't know that info. Because Wagner pretty much worked alone, the choices he made were not -always- properly documented.

Thanks for the tip on that LP, I've got a copy headed my way right now. Hopefully I'll be able to get the proper track listing; I believe one of my collaborators has that info.

Anyway, thanks very much, and enjoy the audio!

Barbara said...

Thank you so much for this. 1977 is pretty close to the last time I was in WDW. Not long after that, my family moved to California, and I grew up on Disneyland. WDW has always been my first love, though - we're planning a big week-long return trip for early next year.

Unknown said...

Wow. A Disney fan "concept album!" This is like, "Sgt. Pepper" or "The Wall" of Disney theme park audio. I LOVE IT! My first visit to Walt Disney World was in 1976. I was eight. We flew Eastern Airlines from Chicago to visit the grandparents. I think I went to WDW every year from 1976 to 1986. So, listening to this today was so much fun. This is MY Walt Disney World. It's a place where Jungle skippers aren't afraid to actually shoot the fake animals, a place where pirates aren't P.C., a place where trips to Volcania, and Mars depart every five to 15 minutes, a place where "park hopping" meant skipping from Haunted Mansion to Mr. Toad, a place where the most popular attraction is an airline commercial because we all burned through our ticket books so fast all that's left is the FREE stuff ... I could go on.

Thank you for helping bring back a little of that UNIQUE, PLUSSED Magic Kingdom. The Walt Disney World of this fan's childhood. THEN was the best time. Here's hoping for the future.

Patti/pdubster said...

When I come here I just immerse myself in 1970's Disney. Aaah! And what a project you completed! I can't believe the volume of stuff contained in that download. Thanks for the E-ticket ride in the way-back machine!

thepicklebarrel said...

A masterpiece! Thanks so much!

ghosthostanth said...

Thank you so much!! A thousand "thank yous" probably wouldn't be enough ;-)

I was a kid in the 70s, and I LOVED the Magic Kingdom from that era! I can still smell certain places of the park in my memory.

You've brought back part of my childhood, and I am infinitely grateful :):):)

Adam and Andrew said...

Wow. I know I'm a few days late on this...but THANK YOU SO MUCH. This is really a phenomenal piece of work you've done. I've already listened to it three times...in just one day. :)

philphoggs said...

All week I’ve been able to tune out the drone of my coworkers’ bla bla and trip to treasured Walt Disney World again and again. It’s been a great vacation. For some reason though I keep going left on the Express Monorail. That and shooting Mike Fink from Sam Clemens. Just kidding…
Thanks again, well done.

Rob said...

Holy moly! This is fabulous! My first trip to the world was in 1978! This brings back my childhood! Thanks.

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael T Wozniak said...

Hey hey,

Great job with this audio! It really has some great stuff that makes you feel like you are back at the park.

I believe I once had a tape from EPCOT with a bunch of the cool music like "Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit" and "Living with the Land". Any plans to tackle a second gate?

Also, I have been trying to find the Sunshine Tree Terrace Loop. Any tips on where to find that?

Thanks again!

Rich T. said...

Thank you so much for putting this together! Beautifully done -- Pure magic!

disneynorth said...

Wow, wow and WOW!!! This is amazing. Thank you soooo much. You are a such a treasure to the Disney community. The music and guide are simply awesome. Disney should be hiring you to produce items like this.

Scott Lane said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your hard work! This was obviously a labor of love! Finding this and hearing not just IYHW (a favorite) but also the RCA music and entrance tunnel audio from Space Mountain, and particularly my old friend the Tiki Room Barker Bird (although you did leave out my favorite part, darn it!) helped bring many smiles to my face in an otherwise bleak week. (with 2 funerals) I can't thank you enough for sharing your hard work!

spajadigit said...

So awesome, and so many thanks!

spajadigit said...

Wow. So awesome, and so many thanks!

Jeremie NOYER said...

Thanks a million for the outstanding work and the living memories!

Music Box Set said...

Thank Ya for the Songs. But Can I Have Walt Disney World Vacation Theme (The Magic of Walt Disney World 1972) in It's Full Recorded Version without the Narration. Oh, I'm Wishing from Snow White Ride/Mickey Mouse Revue Version, Please?

Joe Shelby said...

Well, first I got whacked back 35 years to my 7 year old self with the RCA music for Space Mountain's queue, staring back at me through the closed-circuit cameras and RCA tv's they had down that exit ramp until they replaced it with movie promotions...

but what really got me as "huh" was the electronic version of The Moody Blues's Dear Diary. What was up with that one, part of Iceberg's show?

Chelle Fontaine said...

Thank you so much for the download...Its excellent.