An earworm is a snippet of sound that gets stuck in your head, rolling over and over (and over and over and over …) as if on constant replay. Typically this refers to a musical phrase that repeats in your head ad infinitum. I’m probably a weirdo (well, I’m definitely a weirdo, but this may be just a minor factor) because this sometimes happens to me with phrases or spoken words, not just melodies or lyrics as is normally the case. I hear a specific sentence and it can roll around in my head for hours, or days, or more.
For me, this persistent semi-conscious auditory loop is most often triggered by a trip to Walt Disney World. Maybe there’s a sense memory factor, maybe it’s a latent childhood tic, or maybe it’s just that the notes and phrases are repeated so often during the attractions that they have become the background music of my mind. In any event, here is a list of the top ten Magic Kingdom words or phases that get lodged in my brain, begging to take up eternal residence.
10. “It’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”: Carousel of Progress. Maybe it’s the singalong aspect of the song’s appearance during the attraction, but once I start singing, I just can’t stop.
9. “To infinity and beyond”: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I don’t care what else Tim Allen does, he’s always Buzz buzzing in the back of my brain.
8. “Backside of water”: Jungle Cruise. There is a fair amount of variability in the Jungle Cruise patter depending on the preferences of your skipper, but I’ve never had a Jungle Cruise journey where they didn’t mention the backside of water. I wait for it; it clicks; and it holds on tight.
7. “Wazoooooooowski”: Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor. It’s not just the word “Wazowski” that sticks with me, it’s taskmaster Roz’s guttural moan of the green guy’s name that digs a hole in my subconscious. And the fact that I know Roz is watching, always watching doesn’t help.
6. “Lovely, lovely”: Country Bear Jamboree.” There are several Country Bear earworm contenders. I do have occasional bouts of “Blood on the Saddle” infestation, but more often than not it’s bear Henry’s laudatory words for Teddi Berra that swirl in my subconscious.
5. “In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Tiki, Tiki Room”: Enchanted Tiki Room. I should know better than to even enter the Tiki Room. Nothing good can come of it, most especially the grip of this most odious and inevitable of earworms.
4. “Yo, ho, yo, ho, a pirate’s life for me”: Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s groovy the first two or three thousand times it runs through the back of your brain. I’ve even played this song at home for fun on the semi-regular, but when it takes hold, this one is particularly challenging to evict. Pirates are like that.
3. “And a ghost will follow you home”: Haunted Mansion. “Grim Grinning Ghosts” is the Haunted Mansion tune that spooks many guests with its earworm capabilities, but I rarely find that the song sticks with me. On the other hand, the spooky “ghost will follow you home” admonition often haunts me for hours.
2. “Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas”: Monorail system. Yes, technically the monorail is not in the Magic Kingdom, but the driveby counts in my book. Not only do I get the earworm after riding the monorail, but those “por favor” sounds wiggle around in my head almost any time I’m in a conveyance with automatic doors. If you’re in the elevator with me at the mall, you’re going to hear muttering some Spanish under my breath. Sorry.
1. “It’s the wildest ride in the wiiilllderness”: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue. With so many other catchy notes and noises present at the Magic Kingdom, it makes no logical sense that this would be the sound that is the hardest for me to shake. Perhaps it’s the interval of repetition while you’re waiting for the ride to start or the coupling of the phrase with the pre-thrill anticipation of the attraction, but no matter the reason, once I hit the Big Thunder queue, my mind will be taking a wild ride for an indefinite period.
You’ll note that I’ve omitted the Disney soundbite that would most stereotypically fall into the earworm category: the song from It’s A Small World. (Which I’ve recently learned is perhaps the most played song OF ALL TIME.) While others complain that the singing dolls use subversive trickery to burrow their siren song into their brains (that sounds sort of zombie-eque, doesn’t it), I’ve never found that song to be particularly sticky. Sure, you hum it while on board, but I find that the melody dissipates as soon as I’ve disembarked from the happiest cruise that ever sailed.
So folks, it’s time to sound off on your favorite (or least favorite) Magic Kingdom earworms. Is there a particular song or phrase that stays with you long after the attraction has passed? Have you ever skipped an attraction to avoid inviting an earworm? Let us know in the comments below.