14 February 2011

The Concert Feature

It has been said that George Gershwin dressed up jazz and brought her into the concert hall. By the same token, Walt Disney dressed down the concert hall and brought her into the cinema. These two visionaries each revitalized music in their own unique ways while providing new sounds and ideas to audiences who may have never heard such pieces before. Perhaps it is time to revisit this ideal in the theme parks of Walt Disney World, more specifically in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

It seems like I am often picking on Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but the park has so much unused, or underutilized, space and a sweeping theme that offers a ton of promise that I am really just hoping to see its potential. In this instance, I feel that a singular idea could infuse new life into the former home to the animators of Walt Disney Animation and the ABC Sound Studio. At the same time, this grand thought would build upon a motif already present within the Studios and a longstanding wish of Walt Disney’s.

Walt Disney venture into musical composition paired with an animator’s musically untrained vision became known as Fantasia. His one wish was that the feature would continue in perpetuity with familiar sections being interspersed with new movements on a regular basis. This was, unfortunately, not to be the case for Fantasia, which has developed a beloved following in the years since. However, there was a single sequel produced by his nephew Roy several decades after the original feature, entitled Fantasia 2000. With music education continually being held under the executioner’s blade, there is no better time to reintroduce the concepts of Fantasia to audiences.

So, we have been dancing around the outskirts of an idea, but not getting into the heart of the music. The idea is to present a live version of Fantasia in the parks on a daily basis. Walt Disney World gathers some of the greatest performers in the world for their productions, ranging from Beauty and the Beast to Finding Nemo: The Musical. Throughout the resort’s history there is also a fine tradition of extremely talented musicians, from Off Kilter to the Future Corps, while Walt Disney Animation created feature length films once upon a time. These last two artistic venues is what the Fantasia idea, lets call it The Concert Feature, builds upon.

With a sound studio already in place, but needing an updated attraction that could carry an audience daily, the new experience would call for a live orchestra to perform in front of this audience. While the music was playing, directly above the musicians would be a screen filled with animated sequences. This is where touring the animation facility becomes a thrill again, as guests would be able to see animators hard at work on new sequences for The Concert Feature. This constant flow of animation would also mean that Walt Disney dream of rotating segments would finally come to life. The length of the show would obviously have to be shortened from the full length of Fantasia or a symphony performance, but other productions in Walt Disney World show that guests will spend forty-five minutes to a hour with a single experience if it is worth the time.

Even though elements of Fantasia can be seen throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios, that doesn’t mean that teenage guests are going to sit through an entire performance of classic composition. That means there needs to be enticing musical score for younger guests too. Perhaps The Concert Feature travels a path not put forth by its predecessors, and that is to animate around a commissioned piece of music. For instance, one of the highest selling albums of 2010 was Daft Punk’s score for TRON: Legacy, reaching as high as number 4 on Billboard Top 200 albums. While snub by the Academy Awards, a section composed by the duo would easily bridge the gap between ‘stuffy’ concert hall music and modern sound.

The Concert Feature may just be my own personal daydream of reinvigorating a dream belonging to Walt Disney, while at the same time finding a way to encourage musical education in younger guests. The music has been tugging on my heartstrings, but if this in in fact a daydream, then it has been a wonderful musical exploration to be on.


Snow White Archive said...

There is no more powerful medium than to combine music with visuals. Your idea has my vote.

Gator Chris said...

A wonderful idea. TDO: Build This Now!