All Ears: Music and Sound in and Beyond Disney

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Royal Holloway lecturer Dr Tim Summers teamed up with Dr William Ayers (University of Central Florida) to organize the first conference on theme park music and sound, titled ‘All Ears: Music and Sound in and Beyond Disney Theme Parks‘.

The conference took place June 20-21 2024 at the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, right in the heart of theme park country, and consisted of two days of talks and demonstrations about music in theme parks. Despite the longstanding importance of music and sound in theme parks, the organizers believe this is the first conference dedicated to the topic.

The conference included talks about everything from the harmonic and musical procedures of the ‘Haunted Mansion’ and “It’s a Small World” to how American musical cultures are staged and presented in theme parks, and how film music is adapted in theme parks. It also featured contributions from composers, describing the specific demands of writing for theme parks.

Royal Holloway PhD student James Ellis contributed a talk to the conference. James’s talk was about the ‘Jungle Cruise’, which you can also view here.

The keynote speaker was Ron Fish, a composer and sound designer for games and theme parks, including an extended period of work for Walt Disney Imagineering. He continues to work on a wide variety of theme park projects and shared his perspective on park music with the audience who joined the conference both in-person and virtually.

The conference was generously supported by the Roya Musical Association and UCF Themed Experience Program.

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