Mousertainment Music: The Songs of the Disney Parks Attractions

Recently, the Disney world lost not only one of its longtime talented artists, but one of its most memorable park music contributors as well. X Atencio passed on September 10, 2017 at the age of 98. He was remarkable not only for being a Disney animator on works ranging from Fantasia to Mary Poppins, but for creating two of the most beloved Disney Parks attraction songs ever.

Sing along with me – “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!”

Or perhaps you prefer – “Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!”

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X Atencio’s tribute window on Main Street U.S.A.

Yes, X was the man responsible for the classic songs we all love in both the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as well as the Haunted Mansion. He also contributed lyrics for “Bear Band Serenade” in Country Bear Jamboree (still to this day a favorite show/attraction thanks to the humor and great songs, especially the one that tickles my funny bone the most: “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down”).

While I have previously discussed some of the wonderful atmospheric music you will hear played throughout the Disney resorts, in X’s memory, I thought it might be nice to take a virtual stroll through the parks and commemorate some of the terrific, catchy music you will hear inside many of the most popular attractions.

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The Sherman Brothers’ tribute window on Main Street U.S.A.

Let’s start with the big ones: in my opinion, the only equally iconic attraction music contributions comparable to X’s creations were clearly those of the inimitable Sherman Brothers. Thanks to them we not only have the earworm of “It’s a Small World After All” playing at most Disney Parks worldwide, but also its just as easy to get stuck in your head “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” counterpart.  Happily Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom still celebrates that “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” shining at the end of every day at the Carousel of Progress. And for the moment at least, Figment still shares “One Little Spark” in Journey Into Imagination With Figment at EPCOT. Continue reading

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My Disney Do List #9: Riding in the Wheelhouse of the Mark Twain Riverboat

Last weekend I got to check off an item on my Disney Do List… mostly… and I wanted to share the experience!

The recent return of all the attractions around the Rivers of America at Disneyland Park has not only added a welcome energy back to the area, but it allowed me to do something I’d always wanted to do: ride in the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain riverboat!

A view from the top – New Orleans Square.

Now, I’d always heard this was such a popular request that one usually had to make it over there early in the day to have a chance of getting one of these coveted rides. However, a friend and I were there on a not-terribly crowded day and were lucky enough to be selected by the Cast Member piloting the boat for that particular turn around the river simply by being up front by the gate and being quick to respond when he asked if we (or the party next to us) had ever been up top before. I jumped at the opportunity I believed we were being presented – as did the couple standing next to us – and we were told that as soon as the gates were opened, we were to follow the Cast Member up the stairs to the top, which we excitedly did!

My friend didn’t know what to expect, but I was thrilled at the prospect of this rare visit to the top of the boat!

We climbed upstairs into a small anteroom and then into the wheelhouse itself. This small area fits a maximum of four guests along with the Cast Member.

Looking out at the view behind us of the dock and Big Thunder Mountain.

From there, we had not only an amazing view of the river and the park itself in all directions around us, but we got to watch the Cast Member in action, communicating with those who helped run the attraction as well as watching him work the boat’s bell and whistle. Continue reading

Mousertainment Music: Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and the Mission: BREAKOUT! Soundtracks

I’m not going to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie until tomorrow, but I know that one major thing I’m looking forward to is seeing how the soundtrack will integrate into the story. And I have complete faith in director James Gunn and Marvel to make musical and cinematic magic once again!

I think it’s safe to say that the original “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” soundtrack was at least half the reason that the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was such a hit. Baby Groot dancing may have been the other half of its success – which is no doubt why he seems to be front and center in the advertising for the sequel!

Taking a look back to the first soundtrack, I can scan this list and off the top of my head sing or hum most of them:

            Awesome Mix Vol. 1:

  1. “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
  2. “Go All the Way” by The Raspberries
  3. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
  4. “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie
  5. “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” by Elvin Bishop
  6. “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc
  7. “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5
  8. “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone
  9. “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
  10. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes
  11. “O-O-H Child” by The Five Stairsteps
  12. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

The second soundtrack isn’t quite as obvious for me – although there are several songs on there I do love. However, I expect to recognize most of them when I hear them playing during the movie: Continue reading

Happy 50th Anniversary Pirates of the Caribbean!

Some pirate treasure from my travels!

I seriously contemplated going to Disneyland Park today for the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean.

After all, there’s a lot happening there this week and today specifically:

  • Starting this past Thursday, March 16th, the attraction reopened after a fairly long refurbishment, so you can once again join your favorite pirate crew and sing “Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirate’s Life For Me!” to your heart’s content!
  • Special merchandise was released starting on the 16th including limited edition pins, anniversary t-shirts and an amazing skeleton pirate-topped stein (which reportedly sold out the first day within an hour and a half of park opening – but more may be released today).
  • Free button! If you’re at the park early enough today only you may receive upon entrance or exit an “I Was There” 50th anniversary button. There is also a t-shirt being released today with “I Was There” on it as well.
  • Themed food offerings! “Gold”-dusted churros and beignets are just the beginning of the treats that may be uncovered this weekend in New Orleans Square!
  • Entertainment – yay! Lucky the Pirate will be making his regular rounds, but in a rare weekend appearance, The Bootstrappers pirate band will also be roaming the area and performing! I heard that earlier this week The Bootstrappers actually boarded the attraction and sang to some lucky passengers!
  • JACK SPARROW! This was probably most tempting of all for me – rumor has it that Jack Sparrow may be doing a Meet & Greet today for the anniversary. He’s such a rare character at Disneyland Park (though he can be seen regularly at his tutorial in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort) that this is a treat indeed! I’m hoping it’s a precursor to perhaps another visit from him for the next movie release in May. But catch him today if you can!

Ultimately, I decided that it was going to be chaos at the park with all of these events happening concurrently, so instead, I’m going to the movies to see Beauty and the Beast! But for those of you who get to enjoy some of today’s pirate-y adventures, may the wind be at your back!

Note: it’s unknown how long these pirate celebrations will last – some may last only through today, others through tomorrow, and others may recur or return – time and tide will tell!

But for those who cannot be at Disneyland today, I wanted to raise a mug of rum to a few more Bootstrappers who I’ve not yet had time to spotlight here: Continue reading

Attraction Spotlight: Animation Academy

Our instructor at the Animation Academy.

Our instructor at the Animation Academy.

As someone not particularly artistically-inclined – at least when it comes to drawing – I’ll admit, I’d never set foot inside the Animation Academy at Disney California Adventure until a friend dragged me in by bribing me with the promise of learning how to draw the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland!

And the result was a super-fun experience that I highly recommend!

It all begins outside the Disney Animation Building in Hollywood Land where a board lists the various characters being taught for the day (classes run on the half hour) – choices may range from Fab Five characters like Goofy or Pluto or, of course, Mickey Mouse. But there are other popular characters such as a selection from The Nightmare Before Christmas or Olaf the snowman to more random characters like one of my favorites, the Cheshire Cat.

Let me state emphatically that you do NOT need any art training (or talent!) whatsoever to enjoy this attraction. The Cast Member instructor will show you everything you need to do to turn out a drawing of a beloved character.

I had serious doubts about my ability to do this, but was pleasantly surprised by the results!

When you first enter the room for this experience, there is stadium seating and a drawing board, paper and pencil waiting for you. Grab a board and settle in and let the class begin! Continue reading

The Return of Live Music (Temporarily) to Tomorrowland Terrace and What Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! Means to the Future of Disney California Adventure Entertainment

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure.

In the past week or so, two significant announcements were made by the Disneyland Resort, which will impact live entertainment at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.

The obvious good news was that starting tonight and running for at least the next several weeks, live bands will return to performing on the weekends at Tomorrowland Terrace. Very happily this will include all of the favorite cover bands and tribute bands who most recently regularly played there such as the 80z All-Stars and TOMASINA.

And while I’m thrilled at this news and hope to attend several of these shows, the downside is the “limited” nature of this engagement.

Rumor has it that the bands will only be playing in August and September, ending October 1st. The speculation is that this is the end of the Walt Disney Company’s fiscal year and a new budget would have to be created to extend the bands beyond this point.

For me, it simply hasn’t felt like summer without live bands at the Disneyland Resort. I’ve gone a few times since the Diamond Mad T Party ended and found myself leaving the Resort each time before nightfall with nothing for a Mousertainment fan left to do having seen the Paint the Night parade and Disneyland Forever fireworks shows already (and these shows were also announced this week to be closing with the end of the Diamond anniversary!). Instead, I’ve been going more often to see live performances elsewhere. So the return of the bands to the park is absolutely a welcome one. But knowing this may only be for a few weeks makes it bittersweet.

Still, that good news from Disneyland Park was tempered by the big announcement of the Guardians of the Galaxy theme taking over the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure in 2017. This news made me extremely concerned for the future of that park – and not for the reasons you might think. Continue reading

Top 5 Other Things That Could Be Done With Disneyland’s Tomorrowland

I’ve previously addressed some areas of Disneyland Park that I’d love to see upgraded – one, Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, is no more and the other, Mickey’s Toontown, is rumored to be a future expansion site, likely for Fantasyland.

So today I’d like to turn your attention to the other land in most dire need of an overhaul at Disneyland Park (and some would argue at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, too) – Tomorrowland.

Currently, it functions as a temporary Star Wars Land – featuring the Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain attractions, the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show, the Star Wars Launch Bay Meet & Greet location, the Star Wars: Path of the Jedi highlight reel running in the Tomorrowland Theater, plus assorted themed food concoctions such as the meals served at the Galactic Grill (formerly Tomorrowland Terrace). Oh, yeah, there’s Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and the Astro Orbiter there, too. (Okay, and Autopia and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage as well, but they’re so on the outskirts they could still be considered Fantasyland attractions.)

Unfortunately, none of this mish-mash of attractions actually represents anything resembling “tomorrow”. The subs and rockets and cars (despite a recent Autopia refurbishment, still running on gas rather than electric) are all decidedly retro technology, the Toy Story attraction belongs at the Pixar Park – Disney California Adventure, and Star Wars takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.

So what can be done with Tomorrowland?

In the short term, nothing. While the actual Star Wars Land is being built on the opposite side of the park, Tomorrowland will likely continue to be the temporary version of it for the next few years. But after that, then where will we be?

Well, here are some of my off-the-top-of-my-head personal suggestions…

First off, I’d’ve put Star Wars Land here given the choice, but I accept that the space is not ideal for the matching lands being designed for both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. But I would’ve been happy to see:

  • Pizza Port or Tomorrowland Terrace become a Star Wars cantina (WITH entertainment daily and nightly)
  • Retheme Buzz Lightyear to Star Wars: Rebels
  • Redesign Astro Orbiter vehicles into landspeeders or Rey’s speeder bike
  • Raze Innoventions and Autopia and put a dark ride there
  • Tear down the People Mover tracks if they can no longer be used OR put an Empire Strikes Back speeder bike attraction up there using a similar system to the new TRON bikes at Shanghai Disneyland
  • Make the subs a visit to an undersea alien world

Second, I’d’ve also been fine with this area becoming a Marvel Land:

  • Innoventions would’ve been a perfect Stark Expo location (keep the Meet & Greets they had and add more as new films were released plus have some technology previews – only keep them current and relevant)
  • Turn Star Tours into a variation of the Iron Man Experience going into Hong Kong Disneyland
  • Retheme the Astro-Orbiter as a trip to Asgard
  • Retheme Buzz Lightyear as an animated Avengers attraction
  • Retheme Space Mountain to Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Just accept that subs and cars are actually part of Fantasyland and adjust the maps

However, since Star Wars Land is happening elsewhere, and the removal of Marvel Meet & Greets from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure is strongly signaling that the rumored Marvel Land will most likely be built somewhere around the Hollywood Land area, neither of these are possibilities for Tomorrowland at this point. So what else could be done? Continue reading