The WHY Series ? Episode II

The Why Series
Episode II:

As I mentioned in Episode I, when you?re on the attraction and your ride vehicle moves you through the scenes, your movement acts like a natural crossfade ? as you move away from one, it fades away and while you move to the next it fades in.

In situations like ?Yo Ho? and ?Grim Grinning Ghosts?, your movement not only transitions you from scene to scene, but character by character. What Imagineering does here (in these specific attractions) is loop the main music bed and broadcast it through the ride vehicle and/or into the room itself (when applicable) while all the character vocals are separated on individual tracks and piped to the various regions within each scene to the appropriate characters or effects ? which could be upwards of 7 to 70+ tracks wide. You, as the rider, never hear them all at once because you are moving through them ? you hear the Singing Busts in the graveyard, but as you pass them, they begin to fade away as the other Happy Haunts begin their own ?soli? as you pass by them. All this ? 70+ characters and effects, music bed, music overdubs (the Ghost Band) and The Ghost Host are happening simultaneously and in sync with one another.

When I first got the opportunity to build the musical ride-thrus for ?Grim Grinning Ghosts? and ?Yo Ho? back in 1997, my first instinct was to make it sound like you were on the ride ? even to the point of making sure that I had the correct characters on the correct side of the audio image. This was where I made my first attempts at re-creating the ride experience. But I quickly realized that fading from the Singing Busts, or from one Pirate to another, made no sense outside of the attraction itself. It also doesn?t help that not all of the characters sing the entire song (and in the case of ?Yo Ho?, they?re all voiced by the same 5 or 6 vocalists).

So, I decided to focus on creating a listenable track as if the attraction vehicle slows down allowing you to hear the entire loop. For ?Yo Ho?, once I transitioned from the ?Pirate Overture? and ?Scare Me? cues, I began with the Pirate Chorus. Instead of just hearing that group over and over, I just decided to keep layering more and more pirates as ?the party? rages on for the three loops I used. For the end of the track, I brought in the music only bed and used these unintelligible vocal tracks of character reactions and mumblings (instead of the clear song vocals), as we drift away from the drunken sots and the track ends. For ?Grim Grinning Ghosts?, I was going to use the same concept. But it didn?t work as well. So I decided that I would start with the Singing Busts, and in the second loop use the only other vocals that clearly and understandably sing the entire song ? the Tea Party Duet. Then, in the third loop, bring back all the Happy Haunts as a grand finale. I kept the Singing Busts (but at a lower level) because by not including them in that third loop, the track sounded incomplete. Even as you ride the attraction, they may not be noticeable, but they?re still part of ?the sound?. To end the track we transition to the unload chorus and Little Leota. It?s in cases like these that I?ll include a piece of iconic dialog ? The Ghost Host parlor speech, Little Leota, ?Dead Men Tell No Tales? just for that extra touch. Though I focus on the music, those iconic dialog bits are, to me, just as much a part of the audio as the lyrics are to the songs. As I mentioned before, I completely rebuilt ?Grim Grinning Ghosts? in 2005 with the (recently discovered) original stereo recordings as I was building the Disneyland Box. So, from 2005 ?Grim Grinning Ghosts? is a new stereo track.

I bring all this up, because by the time I got to do the ?Grand-Daddy? of all Audio-Animatronic Musical Attractions, I was faced with similar and yet totally different set of issues. I did have the separate characters that you travel past, but they were all singing clearly, and some even had different lyrics pertaining to the story or their character. If the character is singing an alternate lyric to the lead, that would mean that either I drop the alternate or carry out another full loop of the song so it can be heard (thus doubling the loop). Playing these alternate tracks in sync just confused the lyric and made it difficult to listen to. I did actually do that for Brer Rabbit?s vocals. He sings ?I? while the chorus sings ?He?. Can?t work around that ? it?s Brer Rabbit, kinda the star of the show. Again, Brer Rabbit is placed in the attraction that when you pass by him, you hear his vocal ?upfront?, while the chorus you?ve passed has faded to ?background?.

Another factor was that I had more than one song to showcase. So I looked at each song as a separate item. I sync?d all the vocals and began to mix the track to what I recall as my first impressions of the attraction ? essentially who goes first. There were some instances where vocals that were meant to be heard later in the sequence (as you passed by them), were now all part of the track. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it was distracting, and in a few instances they were singing alternate lyrics. So I made the decision to create a track that best represents the overall musical direction of the cue. For example: This group of characters is the main body of the vocals, while this ancillary vocal is a gag and, has an alternate lyric, or such a characteristic vocal to distract from the whole (remember: though they actually sing in unison, their not necessarily meant to be heard in unison). In that kind of situation, I felt I had to be faithful to the music more than the attraction. I also knew that I wasn?t going to have time on the disc for a 25 minute track. So that?s why a vocal my not be included.

In all honesty, I cannot remember the specifics of Brer Gator, or Brer Porcupine ? or whether one appears at Disneyland or The Magic Kingdom or both. I just mixed the tracks to the way the music directed me. Just as I?m sure if any of you would have mixed this track according to your own perception, I used my best judgment at the time with the goal of making a musically pleasing representation of the attraction(s). So that?s more than likely why Brer Gator and Brer Porcupine got sent down the flume into the Briar Patch.

It?s quite an amazing and technically complicated feat the Imagineers achieve in their productions. Next, I?ll attempt to explain (from my experiences) some of the technical aspects and the kind of multi-dimensional thinking required to create these great attraction soundtracks in ? The WHY Series Episode III: REVENGE OF THE WEDI.

Many thanks,
Randy Thornton


But the friendly alligator asked so nicely for you to bring him along on the cd ;)

This one I can't say I agree with, on the fact alone that it's just not from the attraction. The splash mountain medleys are established as being distinguished entities between parks, with the different background music beds and different vocals such as brer rabbit having his blue bird friend, and then the porcupine from wdw just pops into the disneyland one where as far as I can tell the gator would still fit fine other than having a bigger variation in his lyrics compared to brer rabbit's while the porcupine's is more similar. But for a park souvenir album where people are taking their day at the park home with them that doesn't seem like a problem. I know you don't revisit tracks until it's time for you to do an overhaul or something to it, but I was still surprised that the porcupine remained when the sooner or later song got replaced with the burrow's lament, which I wouldn't expect it to show up on WDW's version for transitional purposes between the laughing place to the vulture by the same reason that it's just not in the ride.

I think we all appreciate the set by set approach to things like grim grinning ghosts and yo ho though. It not only makes for a nice listening experience but gives audio fans a fuller set of audio to enjoy, similar to what we like for a parade cd. Sure the parade units swoop past us and transition in the middle of each other but when it comes to buying the cd we'd rather get each loop like the float stopped for us for an entire loop. The float-thrus/ride-thrus are fun to self-do recreationally of course but when it comes to your cds I definitely think that's a great call.


I can appreciate posts like this because of my background with Disneytrips Radio. I was never "content" with ripping tracks from Walt Disney World Forever or the elusive source tracks that get passed around the net and throwing them on the broadcast. I always tried to create musical pieces or complete ride-throughs whenever possible and was always faced with these types of challenges. I was thankful when a track was included on a Randy Thornton-produced Official Album. They always seemed to fit the idea of the broadcast rather than sound like a collection of tracks or loops played at random.

I'm looking forward to future insights of these products.
Hey almandot!

I know exactly what you?re saying. Including something that isn?t there is what I try to avoid at all costs ? because it?s just not right. Thinking back on it now (especially since you pinpointed exactly where the porcupine is), I remember working on that section (it was over 8 years ago). I tried making Brer Gator fit. But, as you mention, his lyric differs. The only way to make it work in the 2D audio world I live within was to make him a separate loop ? doubling it as I did in other sections. But his lyrics are somewhat responsive to Brer Rabbit?s so he would have to follow him in sequence. But even then it felt uncomfortable. I could have lived with it, but (the way I remember it) by adding a second loop to showcase Brer Gator, it ended up diminishing the theatrical build up of the scene. That?s where I think I made the decision to remove him. However, once I did, it felt incomplete. So now what do I do?

I had originally built The Magic Kingdom?s version the year before. So that was still rather fresh in my mind, and I pulled up those old sessions. Obviously, I knew they were totally different arrangements, but I also recognized that they were in the same key (and tempo). So, going through the files, I found a vocal that would fit (which turned out to be Brer Porcupine) and substituted him for Brer Gator. Though it was ?inaccurate?, it solved both of the problems ? lyric sync, and theatrical timing.

Sometimes I?m forced to push the boundaries a little to make these tracks work. If it means using a track from another version of the attraction, or actually re-sequencing a cue here or there (like ?Spaceship Earth?) to make it more musical, I?ll do it. But only if I have exhausted all other avenues.

When I first built Disneyland?s ?Splash Mountain? track, I wanted to include ?Burrows Lament?, but only ?Sooner or Later? was included on the elements I received. I knew that was no longer used in the attraction, and at that time I was also pushing the track timing beyond what I was normally allowed. So, seeing that it was incorrect anyway, I dropped it all together. However, with the Disneyland Box, I felt it was a perfect place to use this track that would otherwise never see the light of day (I also included the ?Buzzing Bees? sequence). Then, post 50th, I went back to the track again and replaced ?Sooner or Later? with the ?Burrows Lament?.

When and if I ever revisit the track, I?ll take another look at Brer Gator for you.



You are wrong Bill, since the show in "Paris" is in French, Spanish, German and British English, and, as far as I know, those Pirates never sounded Cockney! Besides, there's one "drip" missing, which was deranged, I mean arranged by Mr Broughton, which makes it a rare collectable item!

Fr?re Fran?ois.



I appreciate your extensive description of the mixing of Splsh Mountain. I am curious, what ride soundtrack was the most challenging to create an audio mix of?


I remember Randy talking about how the gadget's go-coaster one took him several years to fully complete to his liking.


Side-note, I'll be in Florida over the next week and a half and I'm going to make sure to b@#ch out that damn porcupine when I go on Splash Mountain and post video of it just for you Randy. :p

Club 33

Playlist Author
I actually heard once a mix of the graveyard scene which had ALL of the ghosts singing on top of each other. Suffice it to say, it's not a pleasing effect.

I've always found Splash Mountain curious audio-wise. For one thing, it has probably had more medley's and mixes of different lengths officially released then any other ride in Disney history. And of course there's the fact that the music and audio for the DLR and WDW versions are different, which is probably not obvious to most guests.

I've always liked the bees section in the laughing place scene, thanks for including it. I am curious to know why Sooner or Later was canned after the original opening; having heard both I like Sooner or Later better. Perhaps it wasn't as effective in building the tension for the final drop though. Having never ridden it with Sooner or Later I can't say, and the current music does work rather well. At least it still exists in the area music. That too is another way in which DLR and WDW differ- the DLR area music loop is around 20 minutes long, where as the WDW version is close to an hour and features many more and different tracks. There's also the fact that all of the DLR loop tracks were featured on Disneyland Forever- except one (a second version of "Zip a Dee Doo Dah"). It's just a weird attraction audio wise.

Kind of off topic, but can you shed any light Randy on why no Toy Story Mania track was included on either album this year? I've heard this much about the score thus far:

The game play of Toy Story Mania! is accompanied by ingenious musical variations of Randy Newman?s ?You?ve Got A Friend in Me,? arranged by veteran music editor Bruno Coon, a frequent Newman collaborator, to compliment the games ? for example, a military brass band version for ?Green Army Man Shoot Camp.?
Which too me, sounds a lot like what you described in Episode one; different variations on the same theme. Also similar in ways to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, though the BLAB score mainly uses "Strange Things" with "You've Got a Friend in Me" saved for the finale.

Was the music just not ready in time? Was there not enough room on the album? Was it just not possible to get or pay for the rights to use You Got a Friend in Me? Or did you just not want more than one Toy Story themed track on the album (though that only really counts for DLR). Of course, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin has been open for over a decade and has never been on an official release, so perhaps there's another reason.

Certainly Randy Newman would be happy were it to be included; that would be 4 tracks (BLAB, Monsters Inc, A Bug's Land, TSMM!) based on his music. Cha-ching!

I'm not complaining, just curious. I'm also curious as to whether the reason this music didn't make it onto the release will also prevent it from appearing on future releases, or was specific to this release.

And one final question. Is the music that plays on the Toy Story Mania website, actually music from the attraction? If so, I guess we'd at least have a bit of it then!


Active Member
Club 33, those are great questions! The Toy Story Mania issue is interesting because there is precident for including tracks before attractions open. For DL's 50th, we got both Buzz Lightyear Astro-Blasters and the new Space Mountain tracks before the attractions officialy opened. So, it's not unheard of. I'm curious to the reasons for not including it myself. Also curious why we've never seen the WDW Buzz attraction represented yet.
I am curious, what ride soundtrack was the most challenging to create an audio mix of?
I never thought of putting these recordings in that context before, as each track presented it?s own brand of challenges. But if I were to single one out, I would have to say the ?Fantasyland Darkride Suite?. For years I was trying to figure out how I was going to release these tracks.? Part of the problem for me was that some use the original film tracks, others use the film tracks with contemporary overdubs (some with acoustic instruments and others with synth orchestra), while yet others were completely new recordings. It was a mish-mash of all different kinds of sources. The tracks aren?t even consistent within themselves. Now on the attraction, you?re distracted by everything around you ? the music is only a small part of the experience. But on a CD, the music is front and center ? naked and exposed. With my obsession in making everything musical, it was a nightmare of a challenge. But when I was creating the concept for the boxed set, I knew I had to finally address the issue, for how could I NOT include the Darkrides in such a retrospective. So, that was actually the first track I began work on. With all these extremely different source elements, I decided to make it one huge piece ? a rather abstract representation of Fantasyland. I felt that if I had done these as individual tracks, all the 'shortcomings' would be way too obvious. But part of a larger whole, it would be more palatable. I dropped ?Snow White? altogether (as it was pure 1938 soundtrack) and focused on the rest. Which attractions and which cues were determined by their quality and significance to the storyline. Though I used the individual cues in sequence, I chose to start with ?Pinocchio? as it was fairly consistent within itself, and end with ?Alice? as it was completely re-recorded and sounded that best of them all. It took over 2 months to build, mix, and master. So, the ?Fantasyland Darkride Suite? was the most challenging.

For Club33 and Ben C. ?

The only reason ?Midway Mania? was not included was that they weren?t finished recording (let alone mixed) the cues by the time I needed to master. It should appear on the next updates in a couple of years. As for WDW?s ?Space Ranger Spin?, Imagineering asked me to hold off on that one for the time being. Can't really say more than that, and don't read anything into me not being able to go into it, but it's just off the table at the moment.

Thanks for asking!


PS - almandot, I've Fed-X'd a pea shooter to the Porcupine, so be careful! :D


Active Member
Thanks, Randy. Fantasyland is an interesting problem, to be sure. I can understand why that was such a hard thing to make work. Also, now I understand why Snow White was left off. It's funny, it seems Peter Pan bridges the gap between old and new, with it's overdubs of new onto the original soundtrack, while Alice and Pinocchio are totally new...then Snow White is original. Is that why you sandwiched Pan and Toad in the middle of the darkride suite?

As for Midway Mania, that makes sense too, LOL! It's not like you could include something that wasn't finished. Your comment about imagineering wanting to hold off on Buzz makes me wonder if they plan on "upgrading" the attraction to match the other versions of Buzz around the world. I don't know, but it's interesting they don't want you to include it for SOME reason...


Quick update while I'm still at WDW, the music in the first portion of the attraction and that in the concert finale aren't synced up at all. Those lazy mother mickey mousers! rabblerabblerabblerabblerabble!

/wants a refund for all 8 days of his trip