Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Favorite Attraction Music

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Black. Enjoy the ride as we share our favorite Disney attraction music.

There is scarcely a place on property at Disney World where you don’t hear music.  It’s piped in all around you and while it may seem like ambient noise, and somewhat random, this music serves a larger purpose.  Music at the parks can create a mood, define a time period or place, provide a transition, mask other noises, and create a story.  It's purposeful and deliberate.  Music is an integral part of the storytelling that is ever so present at the parks.  As such, Disney spares no expense in providing truly unique and distinct music for it’s theme parks.  Case in point:  “It’s a Small World” is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable tunes world round.  You’ve got to give props to Disney for enlisting amazing and talented songwriters and musicians over the years.   What they have produced are timeless classics that can be enjoyed for years.

One of my favorite musical scores comes from the classic attraction, The Haunted Mansion.  "Grim Grinning Ghosts" was composed by Buddy Baker, a Disney legend who served as music director for the Mickey Mouse Club years before becoming music director for Walt Disney.  X Atencio provided the lyrics.  Even though X Atencio was not a lyricist, his success in development of the script for Pirates of the Caribbean made him Walt Disney’s personal choice to pen a script for the Haunted Mansion.

The popularity of the attraction is obvious, as versions of this creepy manor exist at all four major Disney park locations.
Gothic style mansion, Walt Disney World & Tokyo Disneyland 
Plantation House, Disneyland 
Phantom Manor, Disneyland Paris

The title song of the attraction heard at all four parks, "Grim Grinning Ghosts", comes from a Shakespeare poem, “Venus and Adonis”:
Look, how the world’s poor people are amaz’d
At apparitions, signs, and prodigies,
Whereon with fearful eyes they long have gaz’d,
Infusing them with dreadful prophecies;
So she at these sad sighs draws up her breath,
And, sighing it again, exclaims on Death.
‘Hard-favour’d tyrant, ugly, meagre, lean,
Hateful divorce of love,’—thus chides she Death,—
‘Grim-grinning ghost, earth’s worm, what dost thou mean
To stifle beauty and to steal his breath,
Who when he liv’d, his breath and beauty set
Gloss on the rose, smell to the violet?

Appropriate?  I think so!

The theme song can be heard in nearly every area of the ride, with various instruments and tempos.  Different music loops are used throughout the Haunted Mansion scenes.  Some of these variations of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" can be heard:

Entrance foyer:  "Grim Grinning Ghosts" is played in a slow cadence of a funeral dirge.  These simple organ notes set the spooky tone for the mansion.

Loading area:  One of the most unique uses of the attraction tune, an alto flute plays a low rendition of the song, along with a wind-like sound effect that follows the pitches of the song.

Seance Room: As guests pass into Madame Leota’s seance room, a variety of instruments float through the room with the song’s melody humming in the background.

Ballroom:  On the far left of the ballroom, you can see spirits streaming out of a pipe organ playing "Grim Grinning Ghosts", this time as a waltz.

Graveyard:  X Atecios’s lyrics are first heard in the graveyard scene.  A large number of loops are played throughout this area with the ghosts singing the lyrics over a background of the melody.  All four verses are present in this scene.  One of the most distinguishable voice talents in the attraction is Thurl Ravenscroft who is most recognizable as the voice of Tony the Tiger (“They’re Great!”).  He leads the five singing busts in the graveyard scene with his deep voice.  The other four voices are Jay Meyer, Chuck Schroeder, Verne Rowe, and Bob Ebright.

While the repeating one-minute refrain is heard throughout the attraction, it avoids becoming too familiar and repetitive by changing the style and feel in each show scene.  "Grim Grinning Ghosts" ties the entire attraction together from start to finish with one musical piece.  Guests no doubt leave the attraction with the song in their head.  I know I do!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Capturing Magical Memories.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make astop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
2nd Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Chick
4th Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
Final Stop ~ (What's Going on in) Heidi's Head


  1. We used to have the Disneyland Sing Along video when my oldest was a little girl - she HATED this song and we had to forward through that part of the video!

  2. I didn't know about the Shakespearean reference! That's so cool! This is one of my favourites too :) Fantastic post!! :D x

  3. I had no idea about the Shakespeare reference either! You kicked off the loop perfectly - this is great music!