09 September 2013


Last month, Disney released official the latest in a long line of albums for Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Aside from the handful of new songs, what made these albums different is the fact that they were simultaneously released through digital retailers for the first time in the parks and resorts. Over the past several years, Disney has been releasing other previously released albums in a digital format, from little known Walt Disney World Band to the always popular soundtrack to Wishes. One can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend that will crack the Disney theme park music vault wide open!

Let’s start off by looking at the new album, Walt Disney World Official Album, and how it stacks up to the two most recent official album releases, Four Parks – One World and The Happiest Celebration on Earth. For starters, each is a 2-disc set that includes music from all four parks. Track totals, however, have been declining over the period of these albums from Happiest’s 44 tracks, to Four Parks’ 37 tracks, and Official Album’s 36. Depending on how long the park has been open is certainly one of the determining factors in what percentage of tracks each park is allotted. No matter which album, the Magic Kingdom takes the lion’s share of a single disc, and Epcot is given a fair portion of each disc, with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom being given only the scraps of space that are left. In fact, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, has gone from 4 tracks on Happiest, to 3 on Four Parks, to now a paltry 2 tracks of the newest album.

The Happiest Celebration on Earth featured a great mixture of new and old music, which was to be expected since the album was part of the celebration of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. However, if you are trying to find music from Walt Disney World’s past on either of the two more recent installments, you are going to be sorely out of luck. On the flip side, it is nice to get the new theme park music, including the new theme for the revamped Test Track and music from the newly expanded Fantasyland. All in all the 2013 installment, Walt Disney World Official Album, gives new guests a great place to get classic standards of the theme parks and longtime guests a few new pieces to add to their collections.

What really has me intrigued, however, is the possibility that Disney may finally be willing to start opening up the vault doors with more digital offerings. Will albums like The Music of Disney’s Animal Kingdom or discs filled with extinct tracks from EPCOT Center sell as well online as the official album? It’s doubtful, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for such selections. Similarly, I don’t expect any embrace of the digital music retail scene on the part of Disney to include those full-length area loops or resort music that we all clamor for so often.

Creating albums that feature a broad selection of deeper and historic cuts, especially records where tracks are available individually, would be welcomed with open arms by the Disney communities. While the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Forever kiosks allowed such album creation in the parks, they have been shuttered for too long and there are still vintage and extinct tracks that have not seen the light of day ever.

I don’t know if we will or won’t see further albums released on iTunes or through other online venues, but there is plenty of interest. In an age where almost any album or any song we’ve heard throughout our entire lives is readily available, it is imprudent to only release a double album every couple of years that includes only a scant few songs that cannot be obtain on previous releases. The albums are nice, but I’m certain that it is time to delve deeper into the archives of Walt Disney World music and turn up the speakers!


Rich T. said...

I am sooo in agreement with you! Even with these Official Park Album releases, there's no reason the digital version has to remain rooted in the space limits of a CD! If Disney would put more park music on iTunes and other digital shops (and then actually publicize it), I'm sure worldwide sales would make the effort profitable for them.

Dan said...

That's my thought too. I even bought the California Adventure CD on iTunes, and I had a lot of those songs already. I'll keep buying the releases and hope that Disney keeps putting out better material. It's pretty awesome to already see what's been released in the past year.