For many fans, the music that surrounds Disney’s well-crafted illusions in the theme parks is the most recognizable element when taken out of its context. We vividly remember those ragtime tunes in Main Street U.S.A., the optimistic retro of Future World, or the far-away drums in the Animal Kingdom. Disney’s Hollywood Studios also has its own background music, consisting mainly of movie themes of several studios (ever heard the Harry Potter theme song near the Chinese Theater), Pixar themes near Toy Story Mania, and some jazz tunes in the area of Sunset Boulevard.
Last week, most of the background music in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been replaced, representing the current transition the park has towards a new, adventure-oriented identity.
WDW News Today released a video detailing some of the songs present in different areas of the park. You can watch the video here:
Even though we don’t have a full recording of each area of the park, I noticed some nice details about the music and how it actually changes the theming of several places of the park. Taking into account that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will become the park where you have adventures inside the movies, the Imagineers are starting to carry on this theme with the clever use of music within the lands.
In this area, the Imagineers decided to go with an upbeat Jazz medley of several Disney songs, ranging from Snow White’s Heigh Ho to Tangled’s I See The Light. The music, according to WDW News Today, was originally composed for Mickey Avenue at Shanghai Disneyland. This style of music gives a good feeling, it makes us ready for our own adventure and makes us remembers our most beloved characters from Disney. In some ways, it feels similar to the music at the Magic Kingdom’s entrance, but less nostalgic and more upbeat.
Here is where the changes in music change the overall theme of an area. For Hollywood Boulevard, we listen to classic Jazz from the 30’s and 40’s. These are the years when sound and color started to become part of films, consolidating the movie industry. During this time, the film genres also started to spruce up, now that directors and writers have done enough work that we see patterns of drama, comedy, horror, and sci-fi. Walt was working to move from short animated pictures to full length.
Hollywood Boulevard is no longer the Hollywood that never was and will always be. With the new background music, it feels that we are heading towards the Hollywood that once was and allow us to transport us to the different adventures we are about to encounter during our stay in the park. This makes sense with the fully themed environments of Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge, and even Sunset Boulevard. As we mention other Hollywood themed areas of the park, you’ll also notice there’s a timeline created with the different choices of music.
Here we are, at the Los Angeles of the Roaring 20’s. With some vocal track and Big Band hits. With the Tower Of Terror at the end of the street, Carthay Circle and some shops, we experiment a Hollywood that is starting to grow. This keeps with the timeline we have, as Echo Lake has more contemporary music compared to Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard.
The Imagineers have acknowledged Rock n’ Roller Coaster, giving some rock tracks for its surroundings. In this sense, we have the feeling of a temporary music festival in the middle of Los Angeles. This is subtly done using some crowds that can be heard throughout the tracks.
If Imagineers are attempting showing different stages of Hollywood with the music, Sunset Boulevard shines. This is the Hollywood that is starting to shape up film history, that later evolves into Hollywood Boulevard.
In this area, we start listening music from the 50’s and 60s, during the golden age of cinema. It also makes sense that they work within this time period, acknowledging television as a new pathway to the entertainment industry. The different buildings resemble offices of talent agents, detectives, and studio executives. Let’s not forget the sound stages near the area. The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular presents the beginning of the blockbuster film. As we move along, Hollywood moves forward into Grand Park (Muppet Courtyard) and Grand Avenue.
What I’ve stated so far is that each non-movie area represents a different time of Los Angeles as the film industry grows. If Imagineering is approaching this way, this minor change leads the way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios new identity. As we see Hollywood in each stage, we can later experience the adventures that films have given us. Instead of letting these areas linger, they become part of the story being told. I loved the older background music, but this has shown how a single change can transform the vibe of an area.