UltimateDisney.com Presents: Disneyland 50th Anniversary Report

A Musical History of Disneyland - 50th Anniversary Box Set CD Review

Running Time: 462 minutes (7 hours, 42 minutes) plus 35-minute 33 1/3 LP vinyl record
Release Date: May 3, 2005 (limited edition exclusively at Disneyland); September 20, 2005 (national retail version)
Suggested Retail Price: $125 (Disneyland limited edition); $99.98 (general retail version)

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As any self-respecting Disney fan already knows, Disneyland turned 50 in 2005. To help mark this noteworthy occasion, Walt Disney Records issued a handful of theme park-related CDs around the time that the golden anniversary festivities were kicking off last spring. To satisfy many, there was the 22-track Happiest Celebration on Earth, a re-release of the 1956 album Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland, and a Karaoke Series, each a regularly-priced standalone disc. But the serious Disney fan wanted more and even the parks-exclusive 2-disc Happiest Homecoming on Earth wasn't cutting it.

Fortunately, the company's music branch did not neglect this most enthusiastic fanbase; instead, it served them up A Musical History of Disneyland, a deluxe 6-CD box set celebrating past and present Disneyland attractions with the most exhaustive collection of theme park soundtracks ever officially released. For four and a half months, Musical History was only available at the resort whose anniversary it was celebrating. There, it sold for $125 and included a gold vinyl record of Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland and the 72-page hardcover book The Sounds of Disneyland. Last September, it reached general retail with a lower price tag ($99.98 SRP) and everything still in place aside from the record (which was dropped from the national version and became black vinyl rather than gold in Disney-owned outlets).

A Musical History of Disneyland box set

It might seem obvious for a multi-disc set devoted to Disneyland to assign a platter to each of the five original "lands" of the Anaheim park, but after a tiny bit of consideration, you'll realize that this is not an ideal method. For one thing, there are now (and have been for some time) three other designated park sections -- New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and Mickey's Toontown. For another, certain areas of the park lend themselves to a soundtrack more than others based on the nature and number of their attractions. So, while the lineup here is arranged by the different areas, there are instances of overlap on most discs. While this may prevent someone from bringing an individual CD for, say, "the complete Tomorrowland experience", it makes sense logistically. It also makes sense for us to proceed with our review on a disc by disc basis, which is precisely what we'll now do.

A Musical History of Disneyland: Disc 1 artwork (Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse)
Disc 1 (1:19:53)
Main Street, U.S.A.
1. Walt Disney's Dedication of Disneyland (July 17th, 1955) (0:41)
2. All Aboard - Main Street Station (0:30)
3. Minnie's Yoo Hoo! (Saxophone Quartet) (0:41)
4. Meet Me Down on Main Street (The Mellomen) (1:52)
Sounds of Main Street: The Fire Truck
5. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (11:54)
6. Disney Medley (Disneyland Band) - "March of the Toys"/"Whistle While You Work"/"Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"/"Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me)"/"Dig, Dig, Dig"/"Heigh-Ho" (4:06)
Sounds of the Horse-Drawn Carriage
7. Alexander's Ragtime Band (Rod Miller) - Coke Corner (2:36)
8. Let's Dance at Disneyland (The Elliott Brothers) - Plaza Gardens (2:12)
The Sounds of Adventureland
9. Tiki Room Barker Bird - Adventureland Entrance (0:46)
10. The Enchanted Tiki Room Garden Show (3:58)
11. Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room - "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room"/"Elfenchor" from "Die Rheinnixen" by Offenbach/"Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing", "Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)/"Heigh-Ho" (17:36)
Sounds of the Jungle Cruise
12. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye (3:25)
13. Swisskapolka - Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (1:54)
14. Tarzan Medley - Tarzan's Treehouse (2:38)
New Orleans Square
Sounds of the Mark Twain River Boat
15. The Mark Twain - "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee"/"Cruisin' Down the River" (3:50)
16. Pirates of the Caribbean - "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" (16:07)
17. Feed the Birds - Club 33 (3:04)
18. Love is a Song - The Disney Gallery (1:10)
19. Sounds of the Frontierland Station (0:45)

There's only one place that something billed as A Musical History of Disneyland can begin and that is at Walt Disney's brief opening day dedication speech. This gives way to assorted sounds from Main Street, U.S.A., the turn-of-the-20th-century-invoking area where all guests enter the park.
The first long track goes to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, an attraction that, ironically, has been sidelined during the 50th Anniversary celebration to make way for the Steve Martin-hosted short documentary Disneyland: The First 50 Magic Years. Great Moments has appeared in three different versions over the years, and we are treated here to what sounds like its initial incarnation at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. More speech than music, the first half finds the 16th President of the United States (well, actually, character actor Royal Dano doing a convincing job in a role he was familiar with) calmly describing his origins, while the second has Honest Abe more enthusiastically (but less interestingly) discussing ideals of liberty and the like. After this, a medley of band versions of early Disney film songs is a lot of fun and other dated delights close out the primary Main Street portion of the set.

Adventureland logically opens with three tracks pertaining to Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, which in 1963 became the first Audio-Animatronics attraction. The most important one is the show itself, which at 17½ minutes feels a bit more slow-moving without the vibrant visuals and air-conditioned refuge that normally come in tandem. Still, though many consider this dated, others can attest that there's enough nostalgic charm in the show to sustain it. While it might not merit listening beyond "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" on every replay, the full show's inclusion is a necessity and the vast soundfield in the presentation here aptly recreates the feeling of being in the middle of the serenading tropical birds. Rounding out the land are: the brief score to the invigorating Indiana Jones ride, which, without the scattered dialogue and thrills, feels a little slight,
plus representations of both versions of the area's treehouse -- the simple Swisskapolka that accompanied the original Swiss Family Robinson design and a more bouncy medley from the 1999-reworked Tarzan form currently in place.

Opening the New Orleans Square stretch is a jaunt across The Rivers of America on The Mark Twain, in which the southern guide makes amusing observations about your surroundings. Next, the comprehensive 16-minute ride-through of Pirates of the Caribbean is undoubtedly a highlight not just of Disc 1 but of the entire package. Its perfect fusion of music, dialogue, and sound effects make it the ideal track, much like the iconic boat ride is illustrative of the Disney dark ride at its finest. A violin-centric instrumental recording of Mary Poppins' "Feed the Birds" is supposed to represent Club 33, the area's "secret" exclusive club for fat cats, while an instrumental of Bambi's "Love is a Song" marks the gallery of park and movie artwork which sits atop Pirates.

In the track listings above, you'll notice italicized entries which begin with "Sounds of." As you might expect, these are quite literally some brief, transitional audio clips of recognizable park mainstays which deserve notice in such an expansive collection. Most of the time, however, the sound bites aren't enough to merit their own track, with the disc-closing 19th track (Sounds of the Frontierland Station) being an exception.

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A Musical History of Disneyland: Disc 2 artwork (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)
Disc 2 (1:13:33)
New Orleans Square, continued
1. Happy Rag - New Orleans Square (3:51)
2. The Haunted Mansion - "Grim Grinning Ghosts" (13:52)
Critter Country
3. Rufus - Bear Country (0:18)
4. Bearless Love - Bear Country (2:03)
5. Country Bear Jamboree - "Pianjo"/"Bear Band Serenade"/"Fractured Folk Song"/"My Woman Ain't Pretty (But She Don't Sware None)"/"Mama, Don't Whip Little Buford"/"Tears Will Be the Chaser For My Wine"/"Pretty Little Devilish Mary"/"How Long Will My Baby Be Gone"/"All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down"/"If Ya Can't Bite, Don't Growl"/"Heart, We Did All That We Could"/"Blood on the Saddle"/"The Ballad of Davy Crockett"/"Ole Slew Foot"/"Come Again" (15:33)
6. All I Want - Critter Country (2:14)
Sounds of Splash Mountain
7. Splash Mountain - "How Do You Do"/"Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place"/"Sooner or Later"/"Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (12:11)
8. Country Bear Vacation Hoedown - "The Great Outdoors"/"Life's No Picnic Without You"/"On the Road Again"/"We Can Make It to the Top"/"California Bears (California Girls)"/"Two Different Worlds"/"Rockytop Tennessee"/"Nature"/"Singin' in the Rain"/"Ghost Riders in the Sky"/"Thank God I'm a Country Bear (Thank God I'm a Country Boy)"/"On My Way Home to Your Heart" (16:46)
9. The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down - Critter Country (1:45)
10. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - "Winnie the Pooh"/"A Rather Blustery Day"/"The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers"/"Heffalumps and Woozles"/"Hip Hip Pooh-Ray"/"The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down" (4:56)

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As Disc 2 offers half the number of tracks that Disc 1 did, it would be pretty clear even without the runtimes above that this platter skews towards longer compositions instead of short songs. Disc-opener "Happy Rag" is merely the type of jazz which gives the New Orleans Square section some of its flavor. Aside from this and the Critter Country background music "All I Want", all of this disc's selections emanate from four (or five, depending on how you look at it) attractions in the Orleans and Critter (née Bear Country) areas of the park. Clearly a winner, the elaborate ride-thru of The Haunted Mansion is equal parts spooky Paul Frees speech and variations upon the catchy "Grim Grinning Ghosts" tune, with some eerie environmental instrumentals thrown in too. It enables you to revisit the enduring favorite for a quite longer amount of time than the ride itself approaches.

Two full Country Bear shows are next, though these are separated by a Splash Mountain ride-through for a change of pace. First is Country Bear Jamboree, the popular debut of the audio-animatronics attraction which opened in Walt Disney World in the fall of 1971 and came to Disneyland just five months later. This is set up by a bit of Rufus's snoring and the instrumental "Bearless Love." Skipping ahead, Country Bear Vacation Hoedown, which took over Anaheim in 1986, is also presented in full. Each of these two shows consists of a dozen or more short tunes performed by bears who engage in witty banter between numbers. Despite their apparent popularity, the Bears no longer have any presence at Disneyland, which makes these especially good for those who fondly remember the shows and don't venture to Disney World much. However, an attraction like this does rely heavily on the visual aspect to delight, which may not make them ideal full-length listens for those either unfamiliar with the attractions or, obviously, not a fan of the music.

On the other hand, Splash Mountain is just a very good time all around. While parts of the world have been told to forget Song of the South ever existed (much to the delight of prospering DVD bootleggers), neither Disney nor fans of their parks seem willing or able to do the same for the ride which came three years after the 1946 live action/animation hybrid's 40th anniversary theatrical reissue. The four songs run a gamut of emotion and the wet-and-wild nature of the log flume is maintained in aptly-timed sound effects. Finally, there is a charming instrumental of "The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down" and a medley of this and other songs from the 1977 featurettes-turned-feature The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, as heard in the colorful little ride which supplanted the Country Bears in 2001. With these, the second disc's last two tracks, the set has almost eliminated the need for a soundtrack to Pooh's best outing.

A Musical History of Disneyland: Disc 3 artwork (It's a Small World)
Disc 3 (1:13:28)
1. Battle Cry of Freedom - The Blockade House (1:18)
2. A Cowboy Needs a Horse (1:29)
3. Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and the Rainbow Caverns (8:18)
4. All Aboard the Mine Train (1:44)
5. The Golden Horseshoe Revue - "Hello Everybody"/"A Lady Has to Mind Her Ps and Qs"/"Bill Bailey"/"Fidgety Feet"/"Dear Old Donegal"/"Leprechaun's Lullaby"/"Beautiful Dreamer"/"Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming"/"Pecos Bill" (31:33)
6. The Columbia Sailing Ship (3:19)
7. When You Wish Upon a Star - Sleeping Beauty Castle (3:12)
8. Once Upon a Dream - King Arthur Carrousel (2:19)
9. Fantasyland Dark Ride Suite - "Little Wooden Head"/"Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me)"/"Monstro Awakens"/"Blue Fairy Theme"/"When You Wish Upon a Star"/"Turn On the Old Music Box"/"The Nursery Theme"/"You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!"/"A Pirate's Life"/"Never Smile At a Crocodile"/"Merrily Song"/"I'm Late"/"All in the Golden Afternoon"/"Alice in Wonderland"/"The Tulgey Wood"/"Painting the Roses Red"/"March of the Cards"/"Off With Her Head"/"The Unbirthday Song" (17:54)
10. Matterhorn Yodelers - The Matterhorn Bobsleds (2:18)
Sounds of the Matterhorn

For many people, the word "Frontierland" doesn't conjure up much aurally. As such, the section dedicated to this Disneyland area may not do much for even diehard fans of the park in its present form. The first two tracks offer instrumental background music to briefly set the old West theme; "A Cowboy Needs a Horse" stems from the 1956 short of the same name. Next is a seemingly complete soundtrack to Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and the Rainbow Caverns, the attraction which Big Thunder Mountain Railroad replaced in the late '70s.
It's an old-timey tour along the lines of the two narrated Rivers of America ship rides and is followed by harmonica-driven music which surely must have been heard as passengers boarded the train.

Another extinct attraction comprises the second major component of the disc, which feels like an album all to itself. The Golden Horseshoe Revue had its first performance four days before Disneyland's opening (at the 30th wedding anniversary of Walt and wife Lillian) and remained largely unchanged through 1986. The saloon which housed the act has since held three others, but none has come close to claiming the popularity or longevity of its predecessor. A full 31½-minute show of this Disneyland original in its prime is presented here and the appeal of the diverse offerings may elude those not looking for nostalgic value. There's '50s-style girls singing (their sound assimilating Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, et. al.) from "saloon owner" Slue Foot Sue, a fair amount of vocal-less jazz, some enthusiastic crooning from an Irish tenor, comedy bits by Disney Legend Wally Boag, and a touch of harmonizing from barbershop quartet The Main Street Melodears. Despite the questionable entertainment value, the Revue's inclusion is indisputable from an historical perspective. Its presence here ensures that the park's past not be forgotten and helps recapture something that even those now in their 20s weren't around to see.

After Frontierland wraps up with a river ride on the Columbia, a distinct third and final portion of Disc 3 ensues. This takes us into Fantasyland, the most Disney film-oriented and untouched of the park's sections. Accordingly, music from early Disney films quickly becomes the order. Following what sounds like the original recording of Pinocchio's Oscar-winning "When You Wish Upon a Star" and a King Arthur Carrousel instrumental version of Sleeping Beauty's "Once Upon a Dream", brisk medleys from four of the land's brief but beloved dark rides (Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Peter Pan's Flight, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and Alice in Wonderland) come together for a highly pleasing 18-minute suite. The disc concludes with yodeling and sounds of the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

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A Musical History of Disneyland: Disc 4 artwork (Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin)
Disc 4 (1:19:32)
Fantasyland, continued
1. It's a Small World - "It's a Small World" (13:42)
Mickey's Toontown
2. The Sounds of Toons - Toontown (0:35)
3. Steamboat Willie - Toontown (2:08)
4. Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (2:26)
5. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Medley - "Main Title"/"Whale of a Tale" (2:23)
6. America the Beautiful - CircleVision (17:51)
Sounds of the Monorail
7. The Monorail Song - Disneyland Monorail (1:53)
8. Adventure Thru Inner Space (7:31)
9. Miracles from Molecules - Adventure Thru Inner Space (1:36)
10. Star Tours (4:06)
11. The Carousel of Progress - "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (19:28)
12. Progressland - "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (5:47)

Disc 4 opens with Fantasyland's lone holdover - the indelible "It's a Small World", the first of the platter's three Sherman Brothers compositions. As can be expected, the boat ride for which Robert and Richard penned this tune (likely their greatest contribution to the parks) is given deluxe treatment.
The nearly 14-minute track contains all the musical and lingual variations which stretch out this sweet, resonant song to match the length and design of the endearing attraction.

Toontown, Disneyland's youngest land, gets covered in just over 5 minutes with assorted cartoon gag noises, the catchy tune from the opening of 1928's breakthrough short Steamboat Willie (which gets excerpted at Mickey's House), and the bouncy soundtrack to Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin providing nearly all the audio found in this limited area.

The Tomorrowland portion of the disc kicks off with music from Disney's 1954 adventure 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which would have accompanied the walkthrough attraction that for eleven years housed sets (and a giant squid) from the film. Another vanished attraction is given its due next: the late-'50s Circle-Vision 360° (originally Circarama, U.S.A.) film America the Beautiful which literally surrounded guests with scenic footage from around the nation. The soundtrack is appropriately patriotic and diverse plus plenty evocative, though one longs to somehow experience as intended the film itself, which was updated several times over the years, but last shown post-September 11, 2001. Sounds and music from the monorail follow.

A ride-through of the 18-year atomic shrink-down that was Adventure Thru Inner Space is next and it delivers more compelling Paul Frees narration (this time with a science-conscious, existential bend) before concluding with (in a separate track) "Miracle Through Molecules", a cheery, fraternal Sherman Brothers tune that further illustrates the ubiquitous nature of the pair in '60s Disney works. Then comes its still-standing 1987 replacement Star Tours in a brief track that begins with the music from one of the park's most pleasant queues before leaping into an overture of score from John Williams, which maintains the gusto of the music from the original Star Wars trilogy, with a few sound bites peppered in.

Closing out the disc is the longest track, a 19½-minute ride-through of the long-closed Carousel of Progress. This attraction, another which originated at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, charts over half a century of progress that eases life for an ordinary family that doesn't age. Along the way, the Brothers Sherman ditty "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" is repeatedly weaved in and there is many a reference to sponsor General Electric. Like the ride, the track is followed up by a discussion of Progress City, the ideal community that Walt Disney World's EPCOT was envisioned as.

A Musical History of Disneyland: Disc 5 artwork (The PeopleMover)
Disc 5 (1:15:35)
Tomorrowland, continued
1. Nation on Wheels - The Peoplemover (1:56)
2. Flight to the Moon (13:02)
3. America Sings - "Yankee Doodle"/"I Dream Of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair"/"Pop! Goes the Weasel"/"Dixie"/"Li'l Liza Jane"/"Camptown Races"/"My Old Kentucky Home"/"Polly Wolly Doodle"/"Single Girl"/"Down in the Valley"/"Down By the Riverside"/"Drill, Ye Terriers, Drill"/"I've Been Working on the Railroad"/"Fire Ball Mail"/"Old Chisholm Trail"/"Who Shot the Hole in My Sombrero"/"Billy the Bad Guy"/"Home on the Range"/"She May Be Somebody's Mother"/"The Bowery"/"After the Ball"/"Wandering Boy"/"Bill Bailey"/"Sweet Adeline"/"The Old Gray Mare"/ "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage"/"Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Dee-Ay"/"Ja-Da"/"Darktown Strutter's Ball"/"Singin' in the Rain"/"A-Tisket, A-Tasket"/"Boo Hoo"/"Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar"/"Hound Dog"/"See You Later Alligator"/"Shake, Rattle, and Roll"/ "Twistin' U.S.A."/"Joy to the World"/"Auld Lang Syne"/"Stars and Stripes Forever" (21:33)
Sounds of the Autopia
4. The Submarine Voyage Thru Liquid Space (9:10)
5. Space Mountain (3:48)
Sounds of the Astro-Blaster
6. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (6:13)
7. Space Mountain (New Daytime Track) (1:26)
50th Anniversary
8. Remember Dreams Come True - Fireworks Spectacular - "Wishes Fanfare and Theme"/"When You Wish Upon a Star"/"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"/"I'm Wishing"/"Part of Your World"/"The Second Star to the Right"/"I've Got No Strings"/"A Whole New World"/"Magical Pixie Dust"/"The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room"/ Themes from "Indiana Jones"/"Grim Grinning Ghosts"/"Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)"/"The Ballad of Davy Crockett"/"Big Country Theme"/"Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place"/"The Unbirthday Song"/Themes from "Star Wars" (17:10)
9. Closing - "Mickey Mouse Alma Mater" (1:14)

Being a land of the future entails frequent updates, which explains why, as Tomorrowland spills over to Disc 5, extinct attractions are a recurring theme. The first four tracks here all fall into the "gone, but not forgotten" category. The PeopleMover, the constantly-in-motion (until 1995) transit system, is recalled in two minutes of instrumentation that matches yesteryear's notion of "futuristic." Long before Disney World's Mission: SPACE redefined "thrills" and Tom Morrow sounded like Nathan Lane, Disneyland promised NASA-like travel with an animatronic human Mr. Morrow as operations director of Flight to the Moon.
The 13-minute ride-through reveals the premise -- "sometime in the future...travel to outer space will be an everyday adventure" -- and similarly passé forward-thinking via matter-of-fact exposition and appropriate space sounds. Offered from 1967 to 1975, Flight to the Moon was actually the bridge between two longer-running attractions, Rocket to the Moon (1955-66) and Mission to Mars (1975-92).

Track #3 is not just one of longest on the set, it is also the busiest. America Sings is a mostly fast-paced tour-de-force through popular American songs of the past. In it, a cast of audio-animatronic animals deliver a whopping 40 tunes, though most are sampled in only a handful of lines. A couple of others recur to signal transitions between the different time periods by which the songs are arranged. While this attraction, hosted by bald eagle Sam (the jolly Burl Ives), was doubtlessly out of place in Tomorrowland, the full performance offers fun in the vein of Country Bears (but with a usually better sound) which hasn't been experienced since 1988, when the show went dormant and most of its cast was reassigned to Splash Mountain. Next, Submarine Voyage Thru Liquid Space (currently being given a Finding Nemo-themed overhaul) offers a slightly drab narrated underwater tour which is hardly spiced up by fish talk, Atlantis ruins, or mention of mermaids.

The soundtrack for Space Mountain begins with understated atmosphere as procedural talk combines with discordant music to build a fair amount of suspense. The final 90 seconds, as you probably know, are a different story; once the dark roller coaster gets going, surf rock reveals the ride's late-'70s origins while maintaining an intergalactic feel. Closing out Tomorrowland are two tracks which bring a touch of Pixar to the proceedings. First, the opened-in-2005 Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters comes in a score which plays many variations upon Randy Newman's song "Strange Things" from Toy Story while adding plenty of whiz-bang sound effects. Then, there is a new daytime soundtrack from the reworked, reopened Space Mountain, which sounds like it could come from The Incredibles, with good reason: Michael Giacchino, composer of the 2004 blockbuster's score, is also responsible for this short but invigorating track.

The disc's final two listings comprise a section titled "50th Anniversary." First is the best standalone track of the whole set, the 17-minute soundtrack to the dazzling nightly fireworks show, "Remember...Dreams Come True." This retains a few elements from a previous show (Disney World's "Wishes") in its opening five minutes and a bit beyond. More satisfyingly, it pays tribute to the various sounds of Disneyland, most of which have been (or will be) heard at length on this very box set, if not experienced first-hand. While the inspired pyrotechnics which accompany each portion of the track are missed, they can be recalled purely from this complete and utterly pleasing track, which on its own makes a decent Disneyland soundtrack. I'm sure some wish there was an option to lose the stately, semi-sappy narration of 50th Anniversary "ambassador" Julie Andrews, which is only really present at the beginning and end. I'm not among them; I think its inclusion is welcome and deem this perfectly-paced and brilliantly-arranged track a real treat for any Disney fan. The disc closes with the park's closing announcement, which includes a "Mickey Mouse Club"-type sign-off from icons Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald.

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A Musical History of Disneyland: Disc 6 artwork (Fantasmic!)
Disc 6 (1:19:51)
The Seasonal Attractions
1. Country Bear Christmas Special - "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"/"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"/"Tracks in the Snow"/"12 Days of Christmas"/"The Hibernating Blues"/"Deck the Halls"/"Rock and Roll Santa"/"Blue Christmas"/"Sleigh Ride"/"Hungry as a Bear"/"The Christmas Song"/"Another New Year"/"Let it Snow"/"Winter Wonderland" (16:11)
2. "it's a small world holiday" - "Jingle Bells"/"It's a Small World"/"Deck the Halls" (15:07)
3. Haunted Mansion Holiday (Premiere Edition) - "Graveyard Finale" and "Hitchhikers Music"/"Grim Grinning Ghosts" (16:40)
4. The Main Street Electrical Parade - "Electric Fanfare / Fanfare of Lights"/"Baroque Hoedown"/"Alice in Wonderland"/"The Unbirthday Song"/"Cinderella"/ "Following the Leader"/"You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!"/"The Elegant Captain Hook"/"Casey Junior"/"Heigh-Ho"/"Dig Dig Dig"/"Brazzle Dazzle Day"/"Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You Too)" (9:13)
5. Fantasmic! - "Main Themes I & II"/"Kaa and the Monkeys Underscore"/"Pink Elephants on Parade"/"I've Got No Strings"/"Little Wooden Head"/"When You Wish Upon a Star"/"Peter Pan Theme"/"The Elegant Captain Hook"/"Beauty and the Beast"/"Part of Your World"/"Some Day My Prince Will Come"/"Poor Unfortunate Souls" (22:39)

The set goes out with a bang by offering five long tracks of special attractions -- three of which are actually "seasonal" like the heading calls them -- on the final disc. The Country Bears get their annual yuletide makeover and it suits them very well in Country Bear Christmas Special, which puts the gang's spin on well-known holiday tunes.

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Likewise, the Fantasyland boat ride It's a Small World gets redone for Christmas (this November will mark the tenth time); Track #2 indicates its changes are audial in addition to visual, the instrumentation moves towards the festive and "Jingle Bells" becomes weaved (in an assortment of tongues) in between the traditional stanzas. Haunted Mansion Holiday entails a more drastic facelift: the autumnal soundtrack here reveals that the New Orleans Square mainstay completely throws Touchstone's cult hit The Nightmare Before Christmas into the foreground. The marriage of Christmas and spookiness is, much like the movie in question, quite odd and, as such, those who enjoy the quirky Tim Burton-produced stop-motion musical are more likely to appreciate the changes than are fans of Haunted Mansion or Christmas fare in general. Still, though regular Burton composer Danny Elfman is not credited on the score (his efforts were not enlisted for the attraction's debut, heard here), it definitely emulates his style and compels.

Just over two years ago, when I was still a Disney park virgin, I couldn't tell you that the groovy music from a certain Walt Disney Treasures DVD's bonus feature stemmed from The Main Street Electrical Parade. That will never happen again in my life, because I've since become quite fond of the one-time Disneyland summer staple and now year-round Disney's California Adventure fixture. It's evidently a product of the 1970s and easily the shortest selection on the disc, but those are the closest things to shortcomings I can point out. What makes this set's presentation stand out -- besides the totally awesome synthesized sound -- is that it includes dialogue from the characters who show up in the parade such as Alice and Pete of Pete's Dragon.

Finally, there is Fantasmic!, which many will call their favorite and almost all (myself included) will consider one of the album's ten best tracks. The passing of fourteen years since this show opened hasn't lessened the crowds at the Rivers of America, where each night magic, music, fireworks, and just plain fire captivate the masses. Nor has it rendered this spectacular act dated in the least. At the length of a sitcom without commercials, this concluding track musically conveys the big good-and-evil themes while at the same time sampling an array of songs and dialogue from memorable animated Disney movies. It's a splendid way to wrap up a splendid six-disc set.

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A look inside the "Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland" album and the gold vinyl record inside the initial printing. The hardcover book "the Sounds of Disneyland" is also found within the set.

Packaging and The Rest of the Set

A Musical History of Disneyland is housed in a nice and classy 13" x 13" red box. Its simple, tri-colored front cover artwork carries over to the first two items inside. "the Audio Library of Disneyland" is a black book which holds the six discs on two sides (when all in place, they form two Mickey head silhouettes). The hardcover book the Sounds of Disneyland is dressed in yellow, like the goldenrod ribbon which hangs out of the box and completes the ensemble. Then, there is the double-sided gold vinyl (or black vinyl in Disney's retail version) album Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland in the 33 rpm long-playing (LP) format. Quite frankly, I don't have a record player, so that makes this purely a prop. If you are the same way, then its absence from the nationwide retail versions won't affect you. Still, it's a nice-looking prop, since all of the album's original artwork and text is retained for the large scale,
giving us a clear visual and theoretical understanding of the five-land setup of 1950s Disneyland. The vinyl itself is housed in a protective envelope within the back flap.

As mentioned early on, the album -- the very first published by what is now known as Walt Disney Records -- was also reissued on CD last summer. This too kept the vintage-style packaging and enabled those without LP players to listen to Walt's narration and compare the Disneyland then with the Disneyland now. It wouldn't have been unwise to include a CD version of Disney Takes You to Disneyland here, as it is basically the 1956 equivalent of Musical History. For more on that CD, check out Renata's spot-on review of it in last summer's CD Roundup.

As for Sounds of Disneyland, it is a wonderful companion to the set. Written by Disneyland artist Stacia Martin, this expertly-researched resource boasts great artwork and terrific information on Anaheim attractions past and present. It's a book like this which makes you appreciate books; you can find plenty of things written about the various components of Disneyland throughout the vast Internet, but few e-sources are as thorough, reliable, and nicely-presented (some credit goes to Bruce Gordon's design) as this 72-page work. A majority of the attractions featured on the CDs are discussed at some length, with exclusive imagery (from concept artwork to vintage photos) complementing the abundant background information that delivers on the "History" promised. There are definitely some other great books about the theme parks, but this one makes a nice addition to any coffee table, and there is enough of a focus on the music (and musicians) to distinguish it from others.

It may be a small world, but that's a pretty big spread devoted to it in "the Sounds of Disneyland." Here is one last look at the entire kit and kaboodle. Thank you for reading all the way through and for being savvy enough to check captions!

Closing Thoughts

Spending $100 on any single media purchase requires a devotion to a subject, a strong pre-existing interest, and a considerable financial commitment. If you are okay with those three requisites, then you will not be disappointed by A Musical History of Disneyland, a lush six-CD box set which is bound to satisfy as either your lone parks-related CD or the latest (and greatest) in a long line of theme park soundtracks. The closest thing to a complaint that one can muster is that there is simply so much audio here that it approaches overkill. This is not a complaint I can see being widespread, as: 1) a complete collection ought to be thorough, 2) CDs allow quick access abound, and 3) clearly, there is some level of selectivity and plenty of thought that went into the design. Each of the six discs offers several highlights and the set seems to get continuously stronger as you move from disc to disc.

With all that in mind, in case it's not completely obvious from the 29 paragraphs above, this set comes highly recommended for anyone who considers him/herself a Disneyland fan. After just one 5-day visit last July, I put myself into this class and treasure this immense collection.

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Reviewed July 7, 2006.