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Kevin Krock, editor

DVD Review

50th Anniversary – A Musical History of Disneyland
(2005) | 7:41:50 | Not Rated | Reviewed May 17, 2005 by Stephanie Wien, staff writer
Cover Art
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Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio***** Liner notes****
Value*****

The CDs

When I first heard about this CD compilation, I thought it sounded like a great set, but didn't figure I'd be buying it. The words “too expensive” flashed in my brain in response to the $125 price tag, and since I'm not a big collector, I didn't think much of it. Having moved away from the Disneyland area almost two years ago, my trips to the park have declined from my days as an annual passholder. However, even from my distant vantage point on the opposite coast, I have been caught up in the 50th Anniversary fervor. When I read that the CD set was being released for online purchase from Disney Direct and that sets were “going fast,” I was swept away by the buying frenzy and ordered my copy.

I tracked my purchase online, watching as the package traveled from the warehouse to me. I waited at home, anxiously awaiting its arrival, and resisted hugging my mail carrier as she presented me with the cheery white box covered in red script with that familiar script Disney font.

I wasted no time opening the box and was immediately impressed with the quality of the set packaging. The red cloth-covered box bears a gold and black label of Sleeping Beauty castle and the title, 50th Anniversary – A Musical History of Disneyland. A black cloth folder contains the 6 discs, arranged in a pattern reminiscent of a “hidden Mickey.” Each disc bears an image related to the Disneyland area music that it contains: some images are concept art, while others are attraction posters or photographs. The accompanying 72 page hardcover book, entitled Sounds of Disneyland, has a golden yellow cover. The limited edition version of the set also includes a limited edition gold-vinyl reproduction of Walt Disney Records' first ever album release, Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland: A Musical Tour of The Magic Kingdom. The box also includes a golden ribbon to help you get all of the goodies out of the tightly packed set.

Uploading the tracks to my computer for transfer to my digital music player, I began to skim through the Sounds of Disneyland book. An introduction by Richard Sherman opens the book. The Sherman Brothers are responsible for writing such great songs as “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” and “There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” among others. The book contains detailed background and historical information on the Disneyland attraction; photos of Disneyland throughout the years are included alongside concept art and attraction posters related to the various music and sounds included on the CDs The additional information complements the CD set very nicely. I enjoyed the stories and anecdotes relating how certain rides came about; of particular interest was how the 1964 World's Fair was a significant factor in the development of some of Disneyland's most popular rides, including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.

The six-disc set is more of a concept album than a mere collection of Disneyland hits, and lends itself to extended listening. The tracks are laid out in a sequence that follows a roughly clockwise path around the various lands of Disneyland: Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country (with some tracks from its former incarnation as Bear Country), Frontierland, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland. The sixth disc provides a sampling of seasonal attractions including Country Bear Christmas Special, “it's a small world” Holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday, Main Street Electrical Parade, and Fantasmic.

The audio quality of the set is top-notch. The producer, Randy Thornton, has restored the quality of these tracks to a level above and beyond anything available before. Some tracks include ride dialogue or show effects, while others are only the background music. The stereo effects of the attractions have been retained and are especially striking in the tracks for Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Enchanted Tiki Room. Interspersed with the attraction music are sounds of attractions recorded around the park, creating the impression of a walk around Disneyland as you listen. Moving from the Tiki Room track, you hear the sounds of Jungle Cruise, then segue into Indiana Jones Adventure, followed by the Swisskapolka, and a Tarzan's Treehouse medley. As if continuing down toward the Rivers of America, you hear the steam whistle of the Mark Twain Riverboat sounds. Just by closing your eyes and imagining a stroll, you can be transported to the Disneyland of today and yesterday.

The Pirates of the Caribbean track includes preshow queue music, as well as the talking skull and other ride narration. Those elements, along with the sound of the “splashdowns,” seagull calls and cat meows provide an excellent virtual ride experience. Critics of the “PC makeover” undertaken in the '90s will be happy to note that the lustful pirate in search of a woman hiding in the barrel has been restored to his former lecherous glory. The crisp audio allows you to hear and understand all of the songs and dialogue. No longer will you be reduced to singing “We pillage we something, we mumble, we something. Drink up me hearties, yo ho!” Now you can annoy your fellow passengers with an uncannily accurate rendition of the ride. But remember… “Dead men tell no tales.”

The Haunted Mansion segment is presented in stereo, re-creating the 3-D ride experience. The presentation of the audio allows you to hear all the overlapping elements that contribute to the wonderfully rich sound of the ride, particularly in the graveyard sequence. You also hear the entire Madame Leota narration from start to finish, whereas in the ride you typically pass through this room before she has finished.

“it's a small world” drives some people crazy, but is one of my favorite must-do attractions whenever I visit Disneyland. I love the layers and variations on the main song theme as you travel through the different lands, and the CD track lets you appreciate each one individually without the overlap of audio that occurs on the ride. Particular highlights for me are the “whees” and “ooh la las” of the French can-can girls as well as the little German yodeler.

As I sat listening to the set, I got a huge, goofy grin on my face and started tearing up as the track for Enchanted Tiki Room began to play. This attraction is one of my favorites, and the fantastic audio transports me back; the Tiki Room material even includes all of the gods and goddesses from the Garden Show and a portion of the “Barker Bird” that used to sit above the entrance to entice people to come and watch the show. I found it hard to resist singing along with the birds and drumming along with the tikis. I was also surprised by the presence of the famed Offenbach number, which had been removed from the show some years ago. I had only heard mention of this from other Disney fanatics but had never heard it myself. It was a nice surprise to find it here.

One of the highlights of the entire set is the Matterhorn Yodelers. I challenge you to listen to this one without laughing out loud. There's just enough yodeling to drive your non-Disney-loving friends and neighbors insane. The track is book-ended by the sounds of the whooshing Matterhorn bobsleds, capped off by the distant roar of the yeti. You can almost feel the wind in your face and the jerking of the bobsled as track plays. The final, “Remain seated please. Permanecer sentados por favor,” had me smiling from ear to ear.

The inclusion of many former attractions is a great way for people like me who didn't grow up with them to have the ride experience, even if it's only by listening. Some didn't translate well for me – America Sings seemed a bit hokey and dated without the accompanying animatronics. However, I enjoyed Adventure Thru Inner Space quite a bit, especially for its “'60s sci-fi” vibe. The Tomorrowland section of this set is especially rich with history: the Monorail Song, the Carousel of Progress and its World's Fair predecessor Progressland, Nation on Wheels, Flight to the Moon, and the Submarine Voyage are all included.

The second to last track of the set is the music for the new fireworks show, Remember… Dreams Come True. This show reflects the variety of elements that went into the anniversary collection, and is a fantastic finale for this wonderful set of music and sound.

No matter what your favorite attraction at Disneyland, fans of the park need to have this collection. Not want; need. There is something for everyone, from young to old, just as Walt Disney intended Disneyland to be.

I don't get back to Disneyland as often as I'd like, but now I have a great substitute. Since listening to this collection, a trip to Disneyland will never be the same for me. It will now be about listening as well as seeing. Closing my eyes, I'm at the Frontierland train station as the engine pulls to a stop with a whoosh of steam, drowning out the clicking of the telegraph. I can practically smell the popcorn and churros in the air.

CD Basics

Title: 50th Anniversary – A Musical History of Disneyland

Year of Release: 2005

Total Running Time: 7:41:50

Limited Edition Set (Edition size 5000) also includes:

  • 72 page hardcover book, The Sounds of Disneyland
  • Limited Edition Gold Vinyl Reproduction - Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland: A Musical Tour of The Magic Kingdom.

Due to overwhelming demand for this set, Disney has decided to make a “Special Edition” available for sale at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and online through Disney Direct. The Special Edition will contain all of the same elements as the Limited Edition, but it will not be numbered and the vinyl will be a standard black vinyl pressing.

A version of the set with just the CDs will be released in September, and made available wherever Disney Records are sold.

 


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Steph through the MousePlanet Mailbag here.


TECHNICAL INFO
Track listing

DISC ONE (1:19:51)

Main Street, U.S.A.

  • Walt Disney's Dedication of Disneyland (July 17th, 1955)
  • All Aboard – Main Street Station
  • Minnie's Yoo Hoo! (Saxophone Quartet)
  • Meet Me Down on Main Street (The Mellomen)
  • Sounds of Main Street: Fire Truck
  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln – Main Street Opera House
  • Disney Medley (Disneyland Band)
  • Sounds of the Horse-Drawn Carriage
  • Alexander's Ragtime Band (Rod Miller) – Coke Corner
  • Let's Dance at Disneyland (The Elliott Brothers) – Plaza Gardens

Adventureland

  • Tiki Room Barker Bird – Adventureland Entrance
  • The Enchanted Tiki Room Garden Show
  • Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Sounds of the Jungle Cruise
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye
  • Sounds of the Jungle
  • Swisskapolka – Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
  • Tarzan Medley – Tarzan's Treehouse

New Orleans Square: The Sounds of the Mark Twain Riverboat

  • The Mark Twain
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Feed the Birds – Club 33
  • Love Is a Song – The Disney Gallery
  • Frontierland Station

DISC TWO (1:13:33)

New Orleans Square

  • Happy Rag – New Orleans Square
  • The Haunted Mansion

Critter Country

  • Rufus – Bear Country
  • Bearless Love – Bear Country
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • All I Want – Critter Country
  • Sounds of Splash Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Country Bear Vacation Hoedown
  • The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down – Critter Country
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

DISC THREE (1:13:28)

Frontierland

  • Battle Cry of Freedom – The Blockade House
  • Cowboy Needs a Horse
  • Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and the Rainbow Caverns
  • All Aboard the Mine Train
  • The Golden Horseshoe Revue
    The Columbia Sailing Ship

Fantasyland

  • When You Wish Upon a Star – Sleeping Beauty Castle
  • Once Upon a Dream – King Arthur's Caroussel
  • Fantasyland Dark Ride Suite
  • Matterhorn Yodelers – The Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Sounds of The Matterhorn

DISC FOUR (1:19:32)

Fantasyland

  • “it's a small world”

Mickey's Toontown

  • The Sound of Toons – Toontown
  • Steamboat Willie – Toontown
  • Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

Tomorrowland

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Medley
  • America the Beautiful – CircleVision
  • Sounds of the Monorail
  • The Monorail Song – Disneyland Monorail
  • Adventure Thru Inner Space
  • Miracles from Molecules – Adventure Thru Inner Space
  • Star Tours
  • The Carousel of Progress
  • Progressland

DISC FIVE (1:15:35)

Tomorrowland

  • Nation on Wheels – The Peoplemover
  • Flight to the Moon
  • America Sings Sounds of the Autopia
  • The Submarine Voyage Thru Liquid Space
  • Sounds of Space Mountain
  • Space Mountain
  • Sounds of the Astro Blasters
  • Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters
  • Space Mountain (New Daytime Track)
  • Remember Dreams Come True – Fireworks Spectacular
  • Closing

DISC SIX (1:19:51)

Seasonal Attractions

  • Country Bear Holiday Show
  • “it's a small world” Holiday
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday (Premiere Edition)
  • The Main Street Electrical Parade
  • Fantasmic!
ABOUT THE REVIEWER

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Kevin “Doc” Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.

You can contact Kevin here.

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