If you are a Disney history fan…let me rephrase that…if you are a Disney history crazynutcasefan, then this is for you. Foxxfur (@MinnieMGirl) at Passport to Dreams has put together what she calls “A Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World,” an audio recreation of a trip through Walt Disney World, circa 1977. The album, free to download on her site, is made up of mostly background music found in the various lands of the Magic Kingdom. What makes this compilation so special, however, is not just the recreation of period correct music (which has been done before) but the recreation of the ambiance…the recreation of the experience.
Foxxfur has gone to extreme lengths to try and capture what it was to visit Walt Disney World during its first decade of operation. She didn’t just use music that would play in the themed lands, she tried to recreate the place itself. For instance, in certain areas she would include the sound of the waterfall you pass when walking around, and if she couldn’t get the actual waterfall (because it had been removed or is now different from the version that was there in the ’70s) she would consult old footage of the area and recreate the sounds from scratch.
Not good enough? If a certain sound element spilled over into another area of the park (like the sounds of the Haunted Mansion heard from the Mike Fink Keel Boats), she made sure it was there on her album. When presenting the Electrical Water Pageant, she wanted to be sure to recreate the way the music sounds bouncing off the water. Not just any water, by the way, she wanted to recreate the sound of the music bouncing off that water…Disney’s water.
When I asked her about her level of detail, she said, “My general rule was that if it wasn’t creepily close to my memory then it wasn’t good enough.”
The sound isn’t actually accurate. One glaring omission—there is no crowd noise on the album. Where are the people? Where is the sound of everyone waiting in line, cheering through attractions or sitting down for a meal? Those sounds are simply not there…and they shouldn’t be.
“I tried to avoid crowd noise whenever,” she said, “because you naturally screen that out when you are there and in your memories. We really only become conscious of crowd noise in recordings or movies/radio shows. Removing that makes it more ‘real.’ “
That’s it, really. What she did was create an audio memory, something more real than real. It had to be close to her memory, not just the sound of someone wandering through the park with an open mic, and so she mixed for an audience of the mind.
I wasn’t born until the end of the 1970s and didn’t visit Walt Disney World until the 1980s, but somehow when listening to this musical souvenir I remember being there. We can easily preserve photos and videos, physical representations of places and events, but what we can’t easily preserve are experiences, the feeling of actually being there way back when. Visit her blog, follow her on twitter (she talks about Disney, My Little Pony and beer). Foxxfur has tried to rediscover what it means to be there and what it means to remember—and she has come creepily close.