A hit theme song isn’t absolutely necessary for a Walt Disney World attraction to become popular, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
Imagine It’s a Small World without its endlessly irritating/endearing (depending on which side of the fence you’re on) eponymous theme song, for example. Without the earworm, wanted or not, would it even be the same ride?
Thankfully, whether you’re in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom theme park, there are plenty of rides that boast less divisive theme songs. Here are some of our favorite songs from Walt Disney World attractions.
Which ones would make it on your list of favorites?
Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)
It’s not often that a classic theme park attraction inspires a hit series of movies, which in turn inspire a reimagining of the attraction itself! Adventureland’s popular ride Pirates of the Caribbean is practically synonymous with its catchy theme song, Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me), and even Captain Jack Sparrow got in on the action when Elizabeth taught him the ditty in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).
“Yo Ho” has a long history, dating back to 1967 when it was written for the debut of the Pirates attraction in Disneyland, with the goal of making the ride seem funny rather than scary. Mission accomplished.
Grim Grinning Ghosts
Another Magic Kingdom theme park song that navigates the line between scary and funny is Grim Grinning Ghosts, well known to all Guests who are Haunted Mansion fans (are there any other Guests, really?).
Perhaps not surprisingly, given their similarities, Grim Grinning Ghosts and Yo Ho share a lyricist in Xavier Atencio.
Unbeknownst to most fans, the title of the song comes from a poem by Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis. It seems these are very cultured Grim Grinning Ghosts!
And did you know that when you’re in the foyer of Haunted Mansion, you’re hearing the music played backward, and then reversed, to lend it an eerie quality? Now you know!
For an 85-year-old song, Heigh-Ho still sounds pretty good! The easily recognizable tune was originally written for the classic 1937 Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and was used on-screen to introduce the Dwarfs.
The song was instantly popular even back in the 1930s when it stayed on Your Hit Parade charts for ten weeks.
Nowadays, Guests can enjoy Heigh-Ho when they ride Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It’s not the only song from the animated film to be featured in the attraction, but we’re betting it’s the one you leave the ride singing.
Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
If you’ve never visited Carousel of Progress at Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, you owe it to yourself to go experience a piece of history – that just so happens to be accompanied by one of Walt Disney World’s most popular ride songs ever.
Disney’s Carousel of Progress first debuted at the World’s Fair in 1964, and depicted technological changes throughout time, as experienced by the attraction’s starring Audio-Animatronic characters. Richard and Robert Sherman (think Mary Poppins (1964)) wrote Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow for the attraction, and the song’s infectious optimism and excitement for the future mirrored the themes of Carousel of Progress.
The song has been described as Walt Disney’s theme song, because it reflects his own optimistic attitude that things could get better.
So when you’re in need of a musical pick-me-up, head over to Carousel of Progress to hear the song that, more than any other, represents Walt’s hope for the future.
When Guests are Soarin’ Around the World at Disney’s EPCOT, they deserve a decent soundtrack, and that’s certainly what they get!
The original uplifting music for Soarin’ was written by Jerry Goldsmith, and the sweeping score was the same as that used in the California Adventure version of the attraction.
When the ride was refurbished in 2016, the orchestration was changed to reflect the global landscapes Guests “travel” to throughout the ride, but you’ll still be able to hear the main themes from Goldsmith’s original score when you ride the updated attraction today.
Which is a good thing, because the old-school Soarin’ soundtrack is unforgettably amazing.
Tower of Terror
It might not be a single song like the other attraction tunes on this list, but nonetheless, we’re big fans of the music that plays at Disney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.
There’s an excellent lineup of 1930s jazz tunes, befitting the era in which Tower of Terror is set, that play as you’re approaching the ride and standing in the queue. From Duke Ellington to the Glen Miller Band, this is great stuff – but there’s something decidedly creepy and wrong about the music being played, which of course is perfect for a hotel frozen in time!
We also love that as you get closer to Tower of Terror, there’s a distinct departure from the energetic big band songs characteristic of Sunset Boulevard. The music slowly changes until all you can hear are the slower, vaguely ominous strains of the attraction’s signature tunes.
Let’s face it – those Disney Imagineers sure know how to use music to set a mood!
If you’re missing the hit songs from your favorite attractions in Walt Disney World, luckily they’re available online, on recordings, and often, in Disney movies themselves.
But of course, nothing will ever replace hearing these popular tunes while enjoying the rides themselves!