Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Score One for the Mouse

You know how I feel about being in Disney parks. It brings me a sense of calm and joy just to be on Disney property. But specifically when you are within the parks, there is an important detail that it's easy not to even notice if you aren't paying attention- the music. It's everywhere. And it's themed. And it envelops you. Walking down Main Street you hear ragtime. In Adventureland there is the constant sound of drumbeats. Frontierland has tunes with a twang.

How gorgeous is this limited edition poster
by artist Tom Whalen?!? Deco-tastic!
Disney is wise enough to understand the importance of the score to the success of any movie. Their movies have always incorporated songs and music exceptionally well, from Steamboat Willie's whistled ditty to "A Dream is a Wish Your hearts Makes" to "When Will My Life Begin?" to the scores of George Bruns and Randy Newman to the company-defining sound of the Sherman Brothers. Ask anyone of any age what their favorite Disney song is and they will have an answer, however begrudgingly they may give it.

By underscoring your day in the park, they are heightening the feeling that you are living your own movie. Who hasn't wished that their lives had been scored by a great composer? Who hasn't wanted to break out into song in the middle of their day? It can't just be me. Can it? Especially in NYC, we do it for ourselves. Many people, including me, walk out of their doors plugged in to their iPod, choosing the music that will underscore their adventures that day. Disney just takes that a step further, using the music to support the story they are telling in the park, hiding the speakers so that music seemingly drifts from everywhere. You are, in effect, living in a movie. It is a subtle, but effective way of making the day special.

In part because of this and in part because the music in the parks is so awesome, just listening to the music helps comfort me. I love listening to any Disney music, really, but park music has a way of transporting you to being somewhere that is removed from the reality of the moment. Somewhere that you are happy. And it does so instantly.

A literal Disney radio. As opposed to all this talk
of Disney radio. Deep.
Lately this music has become a real lifesaver for me. While I was at my last job, one that I actually enjoyed by and large, I stumbled upon an online radio station called Mouse World Radio on Live365 and my head exploded. Disney park music all day every day. I would put it on at random times just to bring a smile to my face. After I lost that job, I got an admin job that is a little bit... well... how about we go with soul-crushing. One day a month or so in, the online Disney park radio station floated back into my consciousness. I found a coping mechanism to help get me through my days. Now, for as many of the 8 hours a day as I can get away with, at least a small part of my brain is in a Disney park, far away from the office in midtown Manhattan that I actually am in. It has saved my sanity.

Along with Mouse World Radio, Live365 has other stations like Reedy Creek Radio, DIS Radio,  Mousejunkies Radio, and Magical Mouse Radio that all play the same genre. They play full ride throughs recorded on the sly, background music from the different lands, songs from the attractions and other such goodies. When you play one of them in its own window, the others are listed on the side under related stations. When one station isn't playing something that floats my boat, I switch to another one. I'm not going to lie, some of the Tomorrowland loops are kind of hard to take (we thought the furture sounded mighty synth heavy and blippy back in the nineties), but there's always something awesome playing on one of them. Plus, it's free and with only a few scattered commercials. There is also an iPhone app that will stream the music wherever you go.

Best fried chicken and sassy waitresses. What's not to love?
If you are like me (an emotional eater) and need some comfort food for the soul (I can't help you with the real stuff at the moment, but I can recommend where to get the best fried outside of my Aunt Ree's kitchen and it's in Disney's Hollywood Studios), fire up the computer, turn on the interwebs and take yourself over to one of these online stations. It is a perfect salve for days ranging from humdrum to crummy and makes a good day even better. Right at this very moment, it is playing Mickey, Minnie and friends singing "We Go Together" from Grease, which is apparently part of the Every Day is a Holiday show that happened at the Magic Kingdom. Come on. You know that's adorable!

At any rate, if hearing the theme to Soarin' (which has become one of my favorite pieces of music ever thanks to repeated listenings on these stations) or an entire ride through of the Haunted Mansion doesn't brighten your world, then I don't know how to help you. But I will give you a hug next time I see you and hope it's a start.

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