The Sounds We Miss the Most from Disney Theme Parks
With the parks closed, the joys of Disney theme parks aren’t currently available to us. And what we miss more than anything are the melodious noises that let us know we’re at Disney. Here are nine sounds that we all miss dearly right now.
The Booming of Fireworks
I suspect that if we all voted, the consensus winner would involve fireworks. Sure, some of us would disagree, and there would be some debates about which fireworks presentation is best. However, the thing that most of us remember about a night at a Disney park is the night’s sky alight with sparkling objects.
Disney first introduced fireworks in the late 1950s as a way to keep guests in the parks longer. People would famously leave before dark even though Disneyland remained open late. It drove Uncle Walt crazy, so his team brainstormed about ways to persuade guests to stay.
Fireworks seemed like a stopgap solution at the time, but the concept still resonates more than 60 years later. You may prefer Fantasmic! or Happily Ever After or Disneyland Forever or…well, I could go on for a while. The point is that everyone cares passionately about Disney’s fireworks presentations. They’re among the greatest sounds that signify a theme park visit.
The Clanging of Hammers
Something that I desperately miss at Disney is the rides. Specifically, I’m thinking a lot about my favorite Magic Kingdom roller coaster, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I’m a grown man, yet I recently rode this attraction five straight times during a Disney After Hours event. I’m passionate about it.
A journey on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train includes an unforgettable moment when the tilting coaster cart climbs a mountain. On one side, shadows of the Seven Dwarfs appear on the wall, hinting that the ride is about to get exciting.
Once the clanging of hammers begins, everyone knows that our heroes will sing their beloved work anthem, Heigh-Ho. I receive such a jolt of adrenaline at this moment. It’s almost Pavlovian.
The Euphoria at the Tower
When Imagineers constructed Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, they did something brilliant. Cast members added an open space element that accomplished two goals.
For people on the ride, the shocking elevator plunge includes brief moments of light where the guest can see outside. It’s like a moment of false hope before the return plunge into darkness.
For people walking in the surrounding area, that visual gap allows us to stare at the riders just before they lose their sense of gravity once again. And the people experiencing this weird sensation scream their brains out. The sound of this combination of laughter and fear creates so much excitement about the ride that people almost unknowingly walk over to the source.
The tower screams function as a Pied Piper effect. It lures unsuspecting guests to their doom. And I LOVE it!!!
The Laughter of Children
Really, this sound is what we all miss the most. Kids learn at an early age that Disney theme parks epitomize the joy of childhood. They know when they’re at Disney that they’re living their best lives.
Children never sound happier than when they are at Disney. Their raucous laughter rings out throughout the parks. However, the place where I notice it the most isn’t at Magic Kingdom or even Disneyland. It’s at a restaurant near Magic Kingdom.
Chef Mickey’s embodies the brilliant of Disney park planners. The character meal resides in a cleverly designed space on the fourth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Monorails whiz by in the sky as kids stare in awe. What really grabs their attention are the characters, though.
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and their closest friends wander the restaurant, holding court with their guests. The interactions represent a marvelous combination of standard jokes and unpredictable moments. The children who dine here couldn’t be any happier if Santa Claus walked in.
I love visiting the fourth-floor concourse even when I’m not dining at Chef Mickey’s. The laughter of children reverberates throughout the area.
Haunted Mansion is chock-full of distinctive sounds. However, all of them pale in comparison to Madame Leota’s spell of summoning.
“Serpents, and spiders, tail of a rat
Call in the spirits, wherever they’re at!
Rap on a table, it’s time to respond
Send us a message from somewhere beyond!
Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween
Awaken the spirits with your tambourines!
Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond
Let there be music from regions beyond!
Wizards and witches, wherever you dwell
Give us a hint… by ringing a bell!”
Doesn’t that make you wish you were riding in a Doom Buggy right now?
The Popping of Champagne Corks
Mickey’s PhilharMagic entertains from start to finish, with the memorable sounds anchoring the festivities. The show begins with Mickey Mouse warning Donald Duck not to do that thing that we all know Donald will do. Then, music from Fantasia introduces us to this magical setting where Disney movies come to life.
All of the audio cues during this presentation delight audiences of all ages. I could have just as easily picked the big finish wherein Donald unwillingly flies across the concert hall, winding up stuck in a wall.
However, for me, the sound I miss the most right now is the popping of champagne corks. When I hear this noise, I know that the smell of bubbly will permeate the air around me, and a warm blast of wind will thrust in my face. It’s the exclamation mark at the end of Be Our Guest, one of the greatest Disney songs ever.
The Screams from Outer Space
A staple of science fiction is that in space, no one can hear you scream. I’d encourage anyone who believes this principle to stand outside of Space Mountain for half an hour. It’ll cause even the most devout believers to recant.
On Space Mountain, Imagineers have introduced a remarkable psychological experiment. Riders enter a dark space where their sense of sight is mostly useless. Fear rises as guests are unable to get a sense of where they are on the ride.
The ensuing thumps and bumps petrify people, causing them to scream loudly. So, I guess that in space, no one can hear you scream…but on Space Mountain, screams are all anyone ever hears.
The Songs by the Dapper Dans
Bart Simpson has erroneously claimed that barbershop music “ain’t been popular than aught-six, dag-nab it!” He’s wrong, though. Disney fans know that the harmonious rhythms of barbershop provide the backdrop for one of the most exceptional encounters at Disney theme parks.
For decades now, the Dapper Dans have roamed the Happiest Place on Earth. Their sole purpose is to entertain guests with their soothing renditions of classic Disney music. However, the a capella group sometimes throws in a contemporary classic just to keep guests on their toes.
Due to their colorful striped outfits, the Dapper Dans are easy to pick out of a crowd, and they always stop people in their tracks. Everyone loves the comforting sounds of this supremely talented choir.
The Threats from the Stormtroopers
Are you a troublemaker? Even worse, are you a member of The Resistance? If so, you’ve likely gotten into trouble during a visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. After all, the police state there ensures that all questionable characters receive interrogation.
I’m, of course, referencing the Stormtroopers who roam The First Order section of Black Spire Outpost. These cast member encounters involve someone in a white suit of armor walking up to strangers and probing them for information about ulterior motives.
Some of the funniest and most charming moments that I’ve watched Star Wars Land stem from these Stormtrooper interactions. The costumed cast members have done a terrific job of turning something as simple as possession of a smartphone into cause for suspicion. I love the improvisational comedy that transpires once Stormtroopers start giving park guests a hard time. It’s hysterical.