When you think about what makes Disney parks more special than most amusement parks, you probably think about the stories and characters you know and love, amazing architecture, the tasty treats and of course the countless shows and attractions.
But there’s something else that no other theme park takes as seriously as Disney: music and sound design. So seriously in fact that some soundtracks that Disney created especially for its rides have become standalone pop culture icons over times.
You wouldn’t have landed on this blog if you weren’t a total theme park nerd, so I’m not going to make a list of the most famous Disney park soundtracks. Phantom Manor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Soarin’ , Main Street Electrical Parade… you already have all of these in your music library anyway. Besides these A-listers there are so many unknown gems in Disney’s theme park music catalogue that are worth listening too. Here is a non-exhaustive list of my favorite lesser known Disney theme park tunes, whatever it’s been composed especially for the parks or it’s a playlist of non-Disney tracks crafted for an area or queue line.
And because it’s a short list of *my* personal tastes, make sure to share *your* favorites pieces of underrated Disney park music in the comment section below. Alright, in no particular oder, here is my twenty favorite underrated gems of Disney theme park music. Enjoy!
The Twilight Zone – Tower of Terror queue music loop
This compilation of 20’s and 30’s jazz music including the spooky echo! is how I got introduced to jazz, and fell in love with it forever.
Also make sure to listen to this rare gem: the creepy background music played at the exit of the elevators.
Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage
The heartwarming “Compass of Your Heart” tune has been written by Disney score superstar Alan Menken (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King…) during the revamp of Tokyo DisneySea’s family boat ride.
Literally all of early Epcot Center music scores deserve a space on this list but no other soundtrack captures the essence of Epcot better than Horizons: the promise of a brighter future and of course eighties sitcom style theme song.
Promising Tomorrows – Space Mountain
In the same category, this dreamy track can be heard in the queue line of the US Space Mountains.
The main theme of Cinémagique is a Gone with The Wnd knock-off reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood that easily brings tears by the end of the show.
If 50’s supermarkets and 70’s TV game shows had a child it would be the music of Disneyland’s long gone Peoplemover.
Le Visionarium has been shut down for a decade but the dramatic score of Disneyland Paris 360° cinema theater was so good it’s still used here and there in Disney properties around the globe, which die-hard EuroDisney fans understand as a massive middle finger.
Buena Vista Street
Disney California Adventure entry sequence represents Los Angeles as Walt Disney discovered it when he came to Hollywood in the 1920’s. The jazzy background music loop of this gorgeous area perfectly delivers the excitment Walt certainly felt when he arrived with a suitcase and a dream.
Captain EO queue music loop
As 80’s as Michael Jackson + Georges Lucas + practical effects + 3D theaters + electric guitar solos can get. 👌
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar
Unfortunataly, tiki bars are a thing of the past, but Disneyland had the greatest idea when they opened one in the courtyard of the Disneyland Hotel. These awesomely kitsch exotica tunes from the 50’s and 60’s are exquisite.
Tomorrowland at Shanghai Disneyland
I truly hope you’ll have the chance to visit Shanghai Disneyland one day to experience Tomorrowland at night. The electro music plays and important role here, as the EXTREMELY LOUD basses attract you like a magnet to the mesmerizing light waves displayed on the TRON canopy.
By the way if you haven’t already, make sure read my extensive review and watch my video tour of this brilliant theme park.
Radiator Springs Racers queue line music loop
In a slightly less contemporary style, the old country music tracks played on RSR queue line are quite lovely too.
Jungle Cruise queue music loop
Attention skippers! If Tower of Terror and Buena Vista Street make you in the mood for even more jazz music, make sure to listen to Jungle Cruise’s own queue line music loop, including a hilarious radio host, in pure Jungle Cruise fashion.
Grizzly Peak Airfield
The newly revamped area of Disney California Adventure embodies the spirit of American national parks and the great outdoors in general. If you like it, make sure to listen to the queue music loop of Soarin.
Tokyo Disneysea Aquasphere Plaza 〜 Day Time
Imagination and budgets seemed to have no limit during the development of Tokyo DisneySea. Even the entry plaza where you’re likely to spend at best 10 minutes of your time has two soundtracks composed and recorded especially for the theme park : day and night. Fancy AF. Here is the glorious day time version.
Carthay Circle Restaurant