One thing that makes theme parks work is the audio experience — changing the audio to match your environment really sells the idea that you’re in a completely different place, and makes it easier to embrace the suspension of disbelief that allows you to escape “real life” for a bit and be immersed in a themed experience. Disney Parks in particular have music and sounds that have become iconic, and for those of us that visit the parks frequently, just hearing this familiar music can instantly take us back and put us there for a bit.
Given that we can’t actually visit the parks we love right now, that’s exactly what I’m going to do today. I’ve pulled together a daily itinerary modeled after one of our TouringPlans that will hit a lot of the highlights at Disneyland, and then created a Spotify playlist that will walk you through the sounds and music that you can expect to hear as you’re doing it. You’ll be amazed at the sense of place some of these familiar songs can create — any time I hear “Once Upon a Dream” played on a calliope, it immediately transports me to the middle of Fantasyland, standing next to the carousel as I decide which of the classic dark ride attractions I want to experience. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
We’re of course rope dropping Disneyland Park. While we’re waiting to be let through the gates, we’re going to listen to Walt’s opening dedication of the park, just to get us in the mood. From there, we’ll take in some upbeat waltz music to put a little spring in your step as you’re taking a jaunty stroll down Main Street USA.
These days, the first thing you’re going to focus on is getting your boarding pass for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, so you’re going to do that, and also knock out Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run at the same time before lines get too long. Since you’re listening to John Williams anyway, this is a great time to snag a FastPass for Indiana Jones Adventure — you’re going to need it later. Anyway, after you’re done in Batuu, we’re going to exit via Frontierland/Fantasyland and cut across Fantasyland. Make sure you listen for King Arthur’s Carrousel as you make your way to the yodeling yodelers of the Matterhorn.
Having knocked another high wait attraction out early, we’re now going to make our way over to Star Tours and get a little more old school Star Wars fun under our belt. We’re then going to cut across the hub and experience Indiana Jones Adventure. You should be in a position to grab another FastPass by this point — get one for Big Thunder Mountain using MaxPass while you’re en route. Pro tip for the ride: DON’T LOOK IN THE IDOL’S EYE!!! You looked into the eye, didn’t you? Welp, that was inevitable, I guess — SOMEONE does every time. Que sera, sera.
We’re going to stay on this side of the park for a while, starting this leg of the day with a visit to Splash Mountain — it’s late enough now that any morning chill is gone and it’ll be tolerable if you get drenched, but not so late that the lines have really gotten too bad. From there, it’s Big Thunder, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. I love this section of the park, because it’s so dense — it’s a series of great attractions that you can chain together, back to back to back, with no filler. When the opportunity presents itself, grab a FastPass for a Space Mountain as well via MaxPass.
From here, let’s take a quick jump over to do Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, as it’ll likely be the last opportunity to do so before the afternoon crowds really hit. After that, we’ll head back to the Golden Horseshoe for some lunch, and then swing back over to Tomorrowland to experience Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (“You’ve Got A Friend in Me” is a bit of a reach here, I get it, but it was really the closest thing I could find, and it’s unmistakably Toy Story, so it’ll have to do).
We’re now going to head to the back of the park, and I’ve included two songs from our next attraction, it’s a small world. The first is the “small world Clock Parade” that you’ll hear outside of the attraction, because the small world plaza and facade is such an important part of the fabric of the park. Even if you skip the ride (as I often do, I have a low tolerance for the primary song), the sounds of the attraction area are a critical part of the Disneyland experience. And then, of course, the oh-so-familiar Sherman Brothers music from the attraction itself is an iconic tune that is a must on any Disney parks playlist. After taking in small world, head on back to Mickey’s Toontown to let your little ones run around for a bit, and maybe meet Mickey & Minnie if you’re so inclined.
Heading back to Tomorrowland at this point, you’ll hear Michael Giacchino’s utterly perfect score while experiencing Space Mountain. Hop on the Disneyland Railroad, take it around to New Orleans Square, and then make your way to the Tiki Room for a singalong with some birds, plants, and enchanted tiki statues. Pop over to Fantasyland for some classic dark rides, and then make your way back to Main Street to catch the evening fireworks.
You’ve accomplished a lot at this point, and you could call it a day, but I prefer to let the crowds disperse a bit before heading out. With that in mind, we’re going to get off our feet for a few minutes to hear some wise words from Abraham Lincoln, and then grab a bench in the square and listen to Married Life from Up before hearing the closing and leaving the park.
Bonus track: I’ve also included the score from Fantasmic! — it’s not part of the plans for the day, but depending upon my mood, I’ll sometimes prioritize that over the fireworks, so I’ve appended it to the end in case you’d like to swap it in as well! Or heck, do both!
It’s linked above, but here’s the playlist again in case you missed it:
Also, this playlist is created in Spotify, but you if you use Apple Music or another service, here’s are all of the songs that are included, in order, so you can recreate it in whatever service you use:
I do hope you’ve enjoyed your audio visit to Disneyland Park. What songs most “took you there?” Could you envision yourself experiencing these classic attractions? Let us know in the comments!