Monday, April 30, 2012

A Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World

Note: This project has been expanded and updated entirely. If you wish, please check out "Another Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World". (December 2014)

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.