Review of the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort Official Albums

by Jeff Kober, contributing writer
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Since 1972, I have been purchasing Disneyland and Walt Disney World albums. I love the music of the parks. My LPs from the early days, that included such attractions as "The Country Bear Jamboree" and the "Walt Disney World Band," are near and dear to me. I've collected almost every album since.

Yet, when the new resort official albums for Disneyland and Walt Disney World were introduced a few months ago, I quickly rolled my eyes. After all, how many versions of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" and "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" do you really need—especially when they're the same as have been published for years and years. It reminded me of an LP I purchased in the 1970s called Mickey Mouse "This Is My Life." That album featured a picture of the Mickey Mouse Revue. And it seemed to promise selections from the attraction. When I played it I realized it was just repeats of other film albums, and held nothing from the actual attraction. It was one of the most disappointing purchases of my young life.

So you see I can be a little jaded when it comes to what I'm getting in an official album release. Fortunately, a closer look will reveal that it is not like it was last time you bought the album. In fact, if you've still got an iTunes card left over from the holidays, you may want to consider downloading some of this, because it's available there as well as in the parks. There is actually quite a bit of new material on these albums.

Let's look at what's new on the Disneyland album:


Disneyland Official Album

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From Disneyland Park

"Married Life" – A familiar tune you'll hear strolling down Main Street, U.S.A., but not an instrumental I've seen released before.

"Pecos Bill" – Another piece of background music, this time from the streets of Frontierland. It has a nice casual style to it.

"Touch the Sky" – You may remember this from the Pixar film, Brave. It, too, is an instrumental like the previous pieces. I believe you'll find it in the new Fantasy Faire. It has a lovely celtic touch.

"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" – I imagine this is another background instrumental selection from Fantasy Faire. Not used before.

"Submarine Voyage" – The 50th box set also had the original submarine voyage. This one is from the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Unlike the original, it has no narrative, but it does have over 15 minutes of beautiful orchestral music including a light jazz version of Beyond the Sea at the conclusion.

"The Throne Room" – This is the exit music from Star Tours. It's only 58 seconds long, but it's a great piece.

We move on from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure. Here, we find the following:

"Suitcase and a Dream" – This piece sung by the Red Car News Boys. It's a great piece if you've seen the street show.

"Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" – Here's one of the biggest surprises on the album. It's perhaps the oldest written Disney piece on the entire album. But it's simply a beautiful piano piece you would expect to hear while dining at the Carthay Theater. Probably one of my favorite pieces.

"Mike and Sulley to the Rescue" – Obviously from the queue of the attraction of the same name. It's nice, but nothing too different from pieces you would download from the Monsters films.

"A Bug's Life Suite" – Again, very similar to the music found in the film. But it's a lovely piece used in the queues and well worth downloading if you don't own it in some other form.

"The Little Mermaid Medley" – This is almost the entirety of the attraction. It's a fun piece that includes the voices of Jodi Benson and Pat Carroll. It begins with safety instructions from Sebastian and ends with closing remarks from Scuttle. Between those book ends you'll hear "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Poor Unfortunate Souls," and "Kiss the Girl." It's a great medley. But here's the twist—you can't download this number unless you download or purchase the entire album.

"Midway Mania" Sung by Don Rickles, this is a tune that really catches on after you listen a few times.

"The Cleaner" You may not recognize the title, but you'll recognize this background music from Toy Story 2. It's part of Toy Story Mania.

"Welcome to Radiator Springs." One of many songs Larry the Cable Guy sings.

"Funiculi Funicula" – A favorite italian song with a Carsland twister. From Luigi's Casa Della Tires.

"Radiator Springs Racers" – Again, this is almost the entire soundtrack to include verbiage for this attraction. Between this and The Little Mermaid, it's worth getting the album.

As you can see that out of 36 songs on this album, nearly half are new. I should also mention that the Fantasyland Darkride Suite and a few other pieces only found on the Disneyland 50th Anniversary box set is also available here for the first time on the two-disc set. If you don't own that set, this is definitely worth obtaining

So what's missing? Well, some really wonderful pieces. World of Color is totally missing. So is Mickey's Soundsational Parade. It wouldn't hurt to have some background music pieces from Buena Vista Street, as well. But all that said, it's a great album.

So let's take a look at the Official Walt Disney World album. It too has 36 songs between its two disc set. So what's new?


Walt Disney World Official Album

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Let's start with the Magic Kingdom:

"Flitterin'" – From the film, Summer Magic, this instrumental piece was written years ago by the Sherman Brothers and is background music on Main Street, U.S.A.

"Be Our Guest" – For the new Be Our Guest restaurant in the new Fantasyland. This is a light and airy orchestral.

"The Little Mermaid Medley" – The exact same one as described above is available here on this album. But you must purchase the entire album.

"Circus Parade" – This is one of two pieces for the new Storybook Circus.

"Casey Jr" – This is the second of those two pieces. Both are instrumentals. Both are great tunes.

Let's go to Epcot. There is only one new piece from this park:

"Test Track" – If you love the Tron-style look and sound of this attraction, you'll enjoy this instrumental that clocks in at 5:11.

Moving on to the Disney's Hollywood Studios, we have a few more:

"The Throne Room" – Again, this John T. Williams piece is the same as the one found on the Disneyland album.

"You've Got a Friend in Me" – Another instrumental from the Toy Story movie, that serves as background piece in Toy Story Mania.

"Hot Potato" – The same Don Rickles piece sung by Mr. Potato in Toy Story Mania.

From Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, there are no new pieces.

So as you can see, this is a disappointing selection of new pieces compared to Disneyland's new album. There are really some fantastic other selections that could have been added. I think there's some new instrumental for the Mickey Meet 'n' Greet on Main Street. How about the Cinderella Castle Light Projection Show? Not having anything from the new Hall of Presidents is a real miss. A selection from the Tangled restroom area would have been great. Something from the new Seven Dwarf's Mine Train would have sealed the deal for me, as well.

If you're like me and you have collected all of Disney's albums along the way, here's what I did. Because I wanted the Little Mermaid Medley, I went ahead and purchased the entire Disneyland Album. Then I just picked up the pieces I wanted from the Walt Disney World album that weren't already in my library, and weren't on the Disneyland Album. That saved me a lot of money from having to buy both albums, and I got all of the music.

Of course, if you haven't owned previous albums, you may want to acquire both so that you can get songs like Spaceship Earth or one of my favorites from Disney California Adventure: The Bakery Theme.

The music of the parks is one of the best parts of going to these really special places. Listening to those pieces from my iPhone can take me there in a heartbeat. They're just that magical. Still, you want to make sure you get the value, too.

Have you purchased any of the albums? What did you like? What selections did you feel were missing? Share your thoughts with us.

Comments

  1. By davidgra

    I, too, have every "official" album from Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I understand the need to repeat a majority of the tracks from release to release, since so many of the songs are simply iconic and must be available for anyone purchasing an album for the first time. You can't leave out "it's a small world," "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" or "Grim Grinning Ghosts," or else you'll have very disappointed customers.

    Honestly, my expectations for these latest CDs were kind of low. Even though it had been something like five years since the last "official" albums, I wasn't expecting much new to turn up. I was very pleasantly surprised to see more than three or four new tracks on each collection. It doesn't make up for the length of time between the latest releases, but they were at least not thrown together as lazily as I expected them to be.

    (In case you're not familiar with the history of the "official" theme park CDs, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a new "official album" for Walt Disney World almost every year. There might only be a handful of new songs on each new release, but over time, it added up to quite a collection.)

    Personally, I don't understand why Disney isn't making more CDs and making more money off this treasure-trove of material. Epcot could easily have three releases available at the same time -- a Future World CD, a World Showcase CD, and a "historic" collection of songs from earlier attractions. Why, when you exit Captain EO, can you not buy a CD containing the two songs used in the show? (I know there are licensing fees involved, but if they can license the Indiana Jones theme, they can license a pair of Michael Jackson songs.)

    I hope they continue to update the official albums -- certainly more often than they have in the past few years -- and that they continue to make them available in the theme parks. Downloading the songs is fine, but I like being able to pick up an actual souvenir during my visits. It did take a little hunting to turn up the latest WDW CD on my most recent visit, but that actually made it feel that much more special.

  2. By olegc

    Jeff - thanks for the article. I just started collecting the Official Albums for DIsneyland back in the late 90s - but I have noticed that there is no desire to place any show or parade pieces in any CD material since the 50th with Remember. And the older Holiday Album with Believe -Holiday needs a refresher as well. I thought for sure when WoC-Winter Dreams was created they would come back with a holiday piece - but I was left hanging.

    I wonder if its because many of these shows/parades have music based on the famous movies, etc -but its performed new and as such if they created recorded elements like CDs they'd have to deal with residuals, etc. I know there are many sites on the Internet that get their hands on the source material and stream the music so it baffles me when Disney itself does not monetize their content. Oh well - the lawyer angle for Disneyland is so twisted and fortified these days I'm surprised anything gets done efficiently. Thanks for the story.

  3. By danyoung

    Like you I have several of the "official" park albums. But I found a real treasure online with the site live365.com. Just search for Disney and you'll come up with several stations that play everything from movie themes to area background music to park soundtracks, including tracks from some long lost attractions like Cranium Command and the World of Motion. I use a program called Total Recorder to record several hours worth, and then some editing software to break this file down into separate tracks (I use Adobe Premiere, but there are many packages including some free ones that will do the trick). Using this method I have greatly increased my library of Disney park music!

  4. By olegc

    @danyoung - that's what I use! - I also listen to visionsfantastic, reedycreekradio, etc. Some of the other sites have people recording while on the ride (not source material) so the quality is not so good. It is fun, though, to hear old attractions and compare (I heard a set of Christmas Fantasy from just a few years ago and differences abound). There was a site that had DLP attraction experiences like no other but I forget.

    I understand the need for the Parks to offer an item that is for someone who is visiting for the first time - but bring back the kiosk and let me build my own!

  5. By danyoung

    I've got a great collection from those build-your-own kiosks, and would LOVE to see 'em come back!

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