Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom by Starlight

By Keith Mahne

The Magic Kingdom at night is always a special time. It's like the Park transforms into a whole new world. What would it be like to walk the park under the stars in the early days? Well let's find out in the next edition of our Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World experience...

Part 13: Magic Kingdom by Starlight

(If you haven't had a chance to listen to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11 and Part 12 of our musical journey of vintage Walt Disney World, please check them out before continuing. Also, be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player in the top left-hand corner of this page if you are on a desktop computer.)

Here are Foxx's notes on the creation of Track 13 - Magic Kingdom by Starlight:

13) The Magic Kingdom by Starlight
It is at this point that Version 2 of the Souvenir begins to diverge most radically from Version 1. I had always hoped to create a more inclusive tour of early Walt Disney World than simply the Magic Kingdom, but my resources in 2011 simply prevented it. However, the release of that first version did cause certain people who had other obscurities to seek me out, and it is thanks to them that I've realized my original vision here in version 2.
One thing to note is that the project is intended to recall the passing of an entire day in the park. The frantic music and sounds of the Seven Seas Lagoon in the Overture recall a morning arrival, the Fantasyland glockenspiel chimes 3'o clock in track 9, and Michael Iceberg references "Saturday Night at the World", and finally the crickets and sounds of the Florida brush can be heard here in Track 13 (“Night Forest” by user Dobroide on Freesound).
Just as it still is at Disneyland, evenings in the Magic Kingdom once effortlessly evoked sophistication, and meant starlight, dancing, and high quality music acts. I was lucky that some of these acts actually cut records.
We begin at the Fantasy Faire stage near Pincocchio Village Haus, which at night was the home of Nick Russo & Gabriel's Brass, an adult contemporary swing band in the style of Herb Alpert. Nick Russo was a gifted trumpet player, nicknamed "Gabriel" by Ethel Merman after the song in "Anything Goes". By the mid 1970s he alternated between Walt Disney World and Cypress Gardens with a retinue of a dozen musicians.
Following the end of the Jackie Gleason show in 1970, Nick struck out for Florida and cut a record with Miami's Gentry records, using the opportunity to triple the size of his usual accompanying group. In that sense, the sound heard here is quite a bit "richer" than Gabriel's Brass would've sounded at the Magic Kingdom, but the repertoire and era of the music is exactly right. The name of the record is "An Angel is Love" and the song featured here is the lovely, melancholy "How Will I Know You".
Exiting Fantasyland, another of the original 1971 Carrousel tracks can be heard - "It's A Small World", again from the "Treasures of Fantasy" box set. The "Hub at Night" section includes Cinderella Castle's clock chiming, which it hasn't done for many years - the sound is captured from The Magic of Walt Disney World, instead.
The next group to play is Bill Allred's terrific Reedy Creek Jazz Band. Bill Allred was the original head of the Magic Kingdom's Pearly Band, and struck out on his own in 1973 to form his Reedy Creek Jazz Band with an assortment of other Disney musicians. They became the band in residence at the the Maison et Jardin in Altamonte Springs, and often played Church Street Station. Disney, for their part, kept Bill coming back for special events and parties. His appearance at the Plaza Pavilion for Walt Disney World's bicentennial provided the inspiration for this selection.
It's a choice I'm glad I made. Once I obtained Allred's terrific 1974 Dixieland jazz record "Reedy Creek Romp!", I was nearly obligated to include it. Everything from the style, to the name, to Allred's past experience at WDW, made it as Disney-relevant as an outside act can be. Even the cover photograph, taken at Fort Wilderness, was snapped by Pat Terry Jr. the younger of Liberty Square's two "Banjo Kings".
"Reedy Creek Romp", Allred's original composition, is a perfect fit for the park by starlight. Bill returned to Disney in the 1990s, by the way, and works there to this day.
Main Street USA Evening Loop - Michael Sweeney and I were able to confirm the existence of the MK evening loop in 2012, previously an obscurity, so in the interest of accuracy it seemed appropriate to exit the park to the jazzy strains of this loop.
One thing listeners familiar with version 1 will immediately notice about the revised edition is my exclusion of the medley of Buddy Baker instrumental tracks at the head of Track 13. The main justification for this in the older version was to compensate for what I considered to be a weak ending of the project, And also to end the project with an airing of "When You Wish Upon a Star", which has been the traditional ending of Walt Disney World and Disneyland promotional films since the 1960s. I was ready to write this off until I realized that "When You Wish" played in the Magic Kingdom entrance loop from 1971, a loop I had excluded from the "Arrival" section for emotional and pacing reasons.
The Frank Chacksfeild Orchestra version proved exactly the perfect note to leave the Magic Kingdom with. The interior of the monorail is the sound of my old Dell PC tower running, and the monorail doors slamming is a standard car door. The exit from the Magic Kingdom is accompanied by a 1978 Jack Wagner narration culled from WaltsMusic.Com.

So beautiful isn't it?! I, like many, absolutely love the Magic Kingdom at night. It's so beautiful in ways you may not realize during the day. How special it is to be able to travel back to the Magic Kingdom under a beautiful night sky.

We'll wrap up this musical exploration of Walt Disney World's past tomorrow by spending an evening in the Vacation Kingdom....that's right, the whole Resort as it was originally at night...

...let's go relax on the resort loop. This wonderful Magic Kingdom by Starlight track has been added to the Disney Avenue Music Player for you to listen to whenever you'd like. See you right back here tomorrow where we'll conclude our tour of vintage Walt Disney World by spending an evening in the Vacation Kingdom of the World...see you soon.


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four.

Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

You can find all of Keith's articles here.

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