One of the most incredible aspects of Walt Disney World music is the way it captures the essence of the land. For one minute, you’re imagining yourself with a top hat or parasol walking right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. The next, you want to be on a mighty steed galloping through Fantasyland. And after that, you’re picturing yourself in a coonskin cap strolling through Frontierland.
My favorite bit of Magic Kindgom music, however, has to be the Tomorrowland loop. Before I started listening to Walt Disney World music online, I could still remember bits of that music in my head from time to time. Even though the music of the future isn’t as easy to pinpoint as music from the turn of the century, it still pulls you into that atmosphere.
Strap in folks; we’re ready for blast-off!
To truly immerse yourself in Tomorrowland, click on the video below, courtesy of Disney Dreaming on YouTube, before continuing:
The Unique Nostalgia Music
In almost every other area of Magic Kingdom park, many pieces of music are taken from movies. As we saw in the Main Street, U.S.A. loop, several of the pieces were from movie musicals set in the early 20th century. Other lands arrange or compose music that closely matches the area’s setting, like the rollicking drums of Adventureland.
This current version of Tomorrowland actually has quite a few cues from retired attractions. The very first song heard on this loop is a remixed version of “Miracles from Molecules,” the catchy 1960’s tune composed for the Disneyland ride Adventures Thru Inner Space. This ride ran from 1967-1985 in Disneyland, shrinking people down to the size of a molecule.
“Now is the Time” is a song that was composed for the Carousel of Progress when it moved from Disneyland to Magic Kindgom park in 1975. The sponsor of the ride – General Electric – wanted people to not dwell on tomorrow (the original song was “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” which also appears in the Tomorrowland loop at 18:36), but buy the new appliances of today. As a result, the song sung as people leave the attraction ended up being one that reminded them that the best time of your life is happening right now! This song disappeared after the Carousel of Progress was refurbished in 1993, and “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” reappeared. Some people might have nostalgia for that song that only was in the attraction for 10 years, but the song can still be heard in Tomorrowland!
“If You Had Wings” was a song originally sung by Buddy Baker on the attraction If You Had Wings. That appeared in Magic Kingdom park from 1972-1987 and took riders on a trip to various locations that happened to be on the flightpath of Eastern Airlines, the attraction’s sponsor. The song can be heard at 29:21 in the loop.
And finally, “Seize the Day” was originally used by “sponsor” X-S Tech for the attraction ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, found at Magic Kindgom park from 1994-2003. I loved all the music that was found in Alien Encounter (you can hear it at 15:30), and I was glad to be able to ride the attraction before it closed. Gladly, some of the song elements survive to this day.
The Movie Cue
There is one piece of music that was taken from a movie. “Strange Things” appeared in Toy Story and was sung by Randy Newman. This instrumental version was likely included due to the addition of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin to Tomorrowland. It was a song that fit more into the atmosphere of Tomorrowland, instead of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” You can hear it in the loop at 7:04.
The Original Spacey Music
Not every selection of music that is heard can be drawn from a retired attraction or movie. In between the more familiar tracks of music, original music can be heard. This music – and the arrangements of the more familiar pieces – was composed by Dan Foliart. Foliart is a television music composer, and is known for his instrumental and title tracks to TV shows like Home Improvement, 7th Heaven, Roseanne, and Bosom Buddies. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
One of my favorite pieces of original Foliart music is actually my favorite piece in all of the Magic Kingdom’s background music. It is found from 12:35-15:30. Go ahead – click on that section right now.
This was the section of music that I could hear in my head randomly on any given day. The rapid pace of the synthesizers is the section that always gets me excited. Between the main theme is an interlude that starts at 13:44. This interlude leads to the best two seconds of the entire loop at 14:13 – a bridge that seamlessly brings you back to the main theme of the song.
(Sorry – music nerd moment there!)
I found the song titles on a blog called Timekeeper’s Blog, and that song is called “Liquid Space,” which happens to be found on a poster for the attraction The Submarine Voyage found in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland from 1959-1998. The poster says “Explore Uncharted Seas! Submarine Voyage Thru Liquid Space.”
Throughout the music there are many different sound effects inserted in strategic locations in the music. These effects can hearken back to the 1950’s sci-fi television shows or even more recent children’s shows set in space. The effects are clearly found in the music, and I am reminded of Ben Burtt when I hear the random bleeps or bloops. (Burtt was the sound designer for the Star Wars films and voiced WALL-E.)
Not only are there effects inserted into the soundtrack itself, there are also the great sounds that can be heard in and around Tomorrowland! Whether it’s the mechanical sounds of the arms that lift the Astro Orbiter’s ships or the smooth hum of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover units passing by, all the extra sounds of Tomorrowland actually blend with the soundtrack – something that’s hard to do with the random mechanical sounds in Adventureland, for example.
As you can see, I have many opinions on the music of Tomorrowland, and could listen to the soundtrack for hours. It is a fine addition to the land music in Walt Disney World!
What do you think of the Tomorrowland music loop? Does it make you pine for Adventures Thru Inner Space or crave for the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter? Which Carousel of Progress song do you prefer? Comment below!