UPDATE – Sorry for the lack of updates recently! Things have been pretty crazy in the last few weeks with airshows, a special event where I was able to showcase photos, and the delayed launch of Warbird-Photos.com! I’ll be posting some blog posts in the coming weeks with info about the various fun things recently! Back to the blog post…
One my favorite things to do is stumble across scores that, at first glance based on the movie/show that it provides background for, you’d automatically dismiss as most likely a low budget score with a synthesized sound at best. But after watching the movie or listening to the score, you discover that the soundtrack leaps beyond your expectations. Sometimes, the soundtrack can even overshadow the movie and stand apart! I’m going to share some of those ‘Surprise Soundtracks’ (as I call them) when I stumble across them and even some sample tracks.
Surprising Soundtrack #4 – ‘Spaceship Earth’ by Bruce Broughton
Movie Synopsis: Once again as last time with Stargate Atlantis, it’s not really a movie… in fact this isn’t even something on TV. This score is in fact the music that plays on the background of a theme park attraction. Most people, when on the various rides at theme parks, often heavily undervalue the wonderful music and complex scores that provide a musical soundtrack to what you’re seeing. Some of these scores can be from really big composers like James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, and many more. Sometimes the scores are taken from the movies that the rides are themed to, just recomposed to fit the ride’s timing. Often times as well, these wonderful scores come from massive orchestras, the same size as a movie would have. When it comes to the music from the attractions at the Disney theme parks around the world, there’s a huge fan base spanning many websites where users can trade Disney music. Unfortunately, Disney doesn’t release all the ride scores onto commercial CDs that you can purchase in the park, so some rides are near impossible to find. Spaceship Earth is one such Disney attraction at ECPOT Center in Orlando, Florida, that has been near impossible to find. Since it’s opening in 1982, the score and narration of Spaceship Earth has changed many many times. From legends like Walter Cronkite to actor Jeremy Irons, the narration for Spaceship Earth has changed over the years along with the ride itself as new technologies and innovations help improve the ride to keep it fresh with the current age. As of this post, actress Judi Dench provides the wonderful narration of the journey through mankind’s progress with communication and technology. Located inside the giant EPCOT ball that greets you upon entering the park, Spaceship Earth starts you on a timeline from the days of the caveman taking you through the invention of communication, writing, newspapers, radio, computers, and more through the ages. With cutting edge animatronic figures depicting major moments in history, the ride is a technological achievement for the space inside the great EPCOT ball.
When I first visited EPCOT in 2008, I was really excited to ride Spaceship Earth, more so than any other attraction at EPCOT. Being a big Disney music fan, I’d heard the previous scores with Jeremy Irons narration and had been a fan. I’d heard that the ride had gotten updated since then, and so I was very anxious to hear who Disney got to narrate and what the new score would be like. Being that Spaceship Earth is generally the first attraction most people go on when entering EPCOT because it’s at the entrance, I knew this ride would really set my first impressions of EPCOT. Already I was in love with the theme park just because of the music that played outside of the entrance to the park at the bus stop location, which was the classic 1950s ‘instrumental pop’ type music that embodies the classic Disney sound. That wonderful music, along with the great classic Disney Tomorrowland design of EPCOT, and I was already seriously in love with this park. So naturally, I had high hopes for Spaceship Earth when I got into the decently long line.
I first noticed the music when I stepped into the ride’s main loading area. Almost immediately, I could tell that I was going to love this ride and love the score. The score was grand, very John Williamsish style with a great big orchestra and grand sweeping themes. I almost wanted to stand on the loading platform just to listen to the score loop a few times, it was that great. Reluctantly loading into the vehicle to start my journey on the ride, I found speakers behind my seat that continued to play the wonderful score. Naturally, I spent most of the ride listening to the score itself, and had to go on it a second time to really enjoy the attraction. Spaceship Earth’s score ranges from the grand main theme for the attraction to all sorts of various music styles that echo the attraction’s moving through history. From Egyptian melodies to the haunting choirs of Romain times, even some happier upbeat early 30s swing, the score itself can be called a concise history of music through the times. As the slowly ride spirals towards the top of the EPCOT ball, you reach the age of computers and an almost Matrix-like score accompanies a room full of computer codes and electronic information that flies past you in all directions. From this tunnel of information you’re launched into the grand upper room at the top of the EPCOT ball that’s an endless sea of stars with planet Earth glowing brightly in the center. If that doesn’t give you chills, the epic theme of Spaceship Earth plays loudly with the addition of a choir upping the quality and level of this magnificent score. I for one would have loved to stay in that room for hours listening to that main loop looking at the jaw dropping projection of stars and Earth moving all around you. After reaching the peak of the ride, you begin a slow descent back to the present and the score lightly plays in the background as you have a chance to ‘create your own future’ via touchscreen monitors sitting in front of you. After revealing a rather comical future possibility based on the answers you select from a series of questions it asks you, your journey has ended as you find yourself back into that main loading area.
Click the PLAY button below to listen to Bruce Broughton’s EPCOT Spaceship Earth main theme.
It was only natural I wanted to ride Spaceship Earth again right away. The score had given me chills, and locked in EPCOT as one of my all time favorite theme parks (in fact, I’d go as far as to saying the ECPOT park is my favorite of all time). After that vacation was over and I was back home in California, I started my search for the music from Spaceship Earth. Unfortunately, Disney had not released Bruce Broughton’s wonderful score which I mistakenly (and I wasn’t the only one) though was actually composed by John Williams. I was able to locate online after months of searching the main theme to the new Spaceship Earth score, but it wasn’t the best quality. It was better than having nothing, however, so I was happy with that at the least but continued my search. Unbeknownst to me at the time, in April of 2008 a rare two CD set called ‘Four Parks One World‘ had been officially released at Walt Disney World only with the updated music of many of the Walt Disney World attractions. It wasn’t until earlier in 2010 that I ran across this wonderful CD, and realized it had a track called ‘Spaceship Earth’ on it. Figuring that it was an older version of the ride and not the latest score, I kept an open mind as I got ahold of the disk and immediately skipped to that track. Just the first note of music was all it took for me to instantly realize it was indeed the latest Bruce Broughton version of the score. My searching and searching had finally been rewarded, but with an even greater bonus: the track wasn’t just the main theme from of Spaceship Earth, but the soundtrack to the entire attraction!
So next time you’re on a ride at a theme park, take a moment to listen to the music that plays in the background of not only just the ride itself, but when you’re standing in line for the ride. You might find music you love that you would have otherwise missed!
If you’d like to see other ‘Surprising Soundtracks’, you can view the ones I’ve posted here!
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