Review: A Musical History of Disneyland
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A Review of "A Musical History
By Daniel Kaplan
As far back as I can remember, I've always been a huge fan of Disneyland music. As a young boy I wore out my Disneyland and Walt Disney World Official Album record to the point where many tracks would crackle and skip. Growing up as an Annual Passholder I would bring my cassette recorder and audio tape music from the park. As I got older I got more advanced, sometimes bringing in extensive audio equipment in my backpack and hoping to sneak by Disneyland security. Although Disneyland never had an official policy about audio taping it's attractions, I would get strange looks from Cast Members as I would reach into the bushes to recover my cassette recorder I had left in there in order to capture sounds from hidden speakers. One of the most exciting improvements in the world of theme park music came when Randy Thorton produced, "A Theme Park Sing-A-Long" where for the first time extensive mixes of park music could be heard. I flipped out the first time I heard the Haunted Mansion Ballroom Organ and Yo Ho End Overture from the original source audio. However, the biggest milestone came in 1998 where for the first time park guests could make CDs from park music. I bought a few CDs, but unfortunately didn't have the money to buy as much as I wanted. Also, the fact that you were only allowed 10 tracks with some of the tracks being only thirty seconds in length was a real deterrent from collecting the entire series. Over the course of the last few years the Disneyland Official Album has gotten better and better with new musical mixes of attractions like Splash Mountain, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin and Indiana Jones Adventure. All of these prior efforts pale in comparison to the pure joy and excitement I felt when I learned of a 6 CD box set being released for Disneyland's 50th. For all my life I've dreamed of being able to own an extensive collection of Disneyland audio. I guess dreams really can come true.
Overall I have to say that this is by far the most amazing, extensive and complete collection of Disneyland released thus far and quite possibly for a long time. For the majority of the listeners, the compilation will provide a great summary of the rich audio history the park has had in its first 50 years. It's especially nice that every Audio-Animatronic show is featured in it's entirety. I personally would have preferred the longer shows be split up into different track so that I could advance to the songs that I like. The usage of sound effects peppered throughout to give a richer atmosphere is a brilliant touch, although it would have been nice to have them separated into different tracks. I also like the fact that the compilation is organized by lands, rather than choosing a chronological order. Some of the more interesting tracks include the complete underscore of the 1967 Circle-Vision film America the Beautiful, The Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland and Adventures thru Inner Space. There are few live stage-shows or parades on this compilation which may disappoint some listeners. The focus is on the attractions and the compilation delivers a great listening experience.
The disc set also come with a 72 page book on the Sounds of Disneyland. The hardcover book features some never-before-seen concept art to accompany the interesting stories of Disneyland's audio history. It's nice to finally see a book written about the musical side of Disneyland and it adds immensely to the value of the box set.
The special-edition compilation also includes a reprint of the vinyl Walt Disney Takes You on a Tour of Disneyland LP, the original album of the park. While the record does not feature any in-park audio, it does have some nice orchestral suites written by Camarata inspired by the lands of the park. [Ed Note: Disney has announced a Special Edition of the set which will include the same LP in black instead of yellow. A Standard Edition without the LP will be available nationwide later this year]
The packaging is very slick and I really like the 50th anniversary logo created for the set.
For those of you who are interested the rest of my review goes track by track through the CD set. While I do have a fair amount of negative comments, remember they are mostly of a nitpicky nature and my response to the CDs was overwhelmingly positive. However, I also have strong opinions about this subject matter and would feel like I was slightly cheating to give a completely positive review. Keeping in mind that most of my negative comments are on the "nit-picky" side and only complete Disneyland audio geeks (like myself) would probably care about my small complaints let's continue...