The Power of Music: ‘We Call It Imagineering’ Episode 2 Debuts 

The second episode of our Walt Disney Imagineering YouTube series is now available to watch, and this time we’re taking you with us behind-the-scenes of how music is created for Disney attractions and entertainment including a first look at the finale of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, featuring the new original song “Special Spice.” But that’s not the only new music you’ll soon be tapping your toes to, because we’ve also got a sneak peek at new music for Country Bear Musical Jamboree!

Walt Disney understood the power of music and what it could convey. Music transcends language barriers, making it a universal medium that resonates with audiences around the world. When he established Walt Disney Imagineering to help build his original theme park, Walt brought his filmmakers on board, envisioning the parks as immersive versions of his films.

From the very beginning, Imagineers have tapped into this sense, making it a key part of their creative process. Imagineers use sounds — especially music — to add layers of detail and atmosphere to the environment, evoke specific emotions, and enhance the overall experience.

Disney Songwriters The Sherman Brothers

Imagineers’ approach to music is deliberate and meticulous, in fact, it’s stood the test of time. This attention to detail is evident in the work of songwriters like the Sherman Brothers, who were among the first songwriters for Disneyland attractions, creating classics like “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” and “It’s A Small World (After All),” which debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and has been an earworm ever since. Their illustrious careers continue to be remembered and revered by generations of fans, and with the passing of Richard last weekend, we are forever grateful for the mark he and Robert left on the world.

Imagineer X Atencio

Continuing this legacy, in part, was Imagineer X Atencio, who crafted timeless lyrics like “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” for Pirates of the Caribbean and “Grim Grinning Ghosts” for the Haunted Mansion. These iconic tunes, respectively scored by masterminds George Bruns and Buddy Baker, do more than enhance the cinematic experience — they create lasting memories for generations of guests.

As Imagineers continue their legacy of creating toe-tapping tunes and look towards the future, they are collaborating with award-winning talent and industry experts to bring new sounds to life. From the invigorating melodies of New Orleans to the music history of Nashville, we’re pulling back the musical curtain on some of our latest projects!

Musician PJ Morton at the piano recording the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure soundtrack

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Disney Parks share a long love of New Orleans, its culture and its music. As we shared in episode one, Walt Disney drew inspiration from New Orleans when creating Audio-Animatronics figures. In the early days of Disneyland, New Orleans music was prominently featured with performances by Kid Ory and Louis Armstrong himself.

With a new story, there was a need for new music to go along with it. Imagineers worked with Grammy-winner, PJ Morton, in New Orleans to score a lyrical love letter to the city for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. These recording sessions resulted in both new renditions of favorite tunes from the film and an all-new, original song, “Special Spice” with vocals by Anika Noni Rose, the original voice of Princess Tiana and Disney Legend.

This is a new chapter for Tiana as she grows her business and as a thank you to her community for their support, she’s throwing a party during Mardi Gras season. When it turns out there’s been a mix up in the preparations and she’s missing a band, Tiana invites us on a journey through the bayou discovering both friends familiar and anew for this last ingredient – musical critters

After the thrilling drop, you’ll soon approach Tiana and friends at her mansion, where Louis conducts a jazz band filled with all the critters we met on our journey. They play “Special Spice” along with Prince Naveen playing his ukulele and Prince Ralphie the drums. We’ve discovered the “Special Spice” making this joyful, one-of-a-kind celebration complete is in fact YOU. The melody continues as we approach Mama Odie, who acknowledges that this party wouldn’t be what it is without you.

As we near the attraction’s opening on June 28 at Magic Kingdom, PJ recently stopped by to hear his song alongside the project team. “Seeing my song on the ride for the very first time was mind blowing to me,” recounted PJ. “It’s surreal to be in this world after a long time writing this song and finally seeing it in action, it’s a dream come true.”

Not only does the latest episode of “We Call It Imagineering” feature a sneak peek of this catchy song, but the full version of “Special Spice” will also release on Walt Disney Records this Friday, May 31 across all streaming platforms!

Before even boarding the attraction, you’ll hear a radio program on a New Orleans station playing authentic jazz versions of familiar songs, including “Down in New Orleans,” “Ma Belle Evangeline” and more from “The Princess and the Frog”! Listen closely, you might catch the radio host sharing an important message to listeners, Tiana needs help finding musicians for her big party tonight.

Terence Blanchard, a featured musician in “The Princess and the Frog,” seven-time Grammy-winner and twice-Oscar nominated composer, helmed the music in the attraction’s queue. This is just one of the many ways Imagineers have leaned into local New Orleans voices to tell Tiana’s story — both artists are natives to this musical city.

Musician Terence Blanchard recording the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure soundtrack

“We really wanted to showcase New Orleans music, give people who are going to be in the queue line an experience of being in New Orleans,” shared Terence. “It will hopefully create a lasting memory and a relationship with the city.”

The Chase family is another center stone of the city and, as you may know, provided its own inspiration for “The Princess and the Frog.” We are honored that legendary singer Leah Chase Kamata and daughter of Chef Leah Chase who was one of the inspirations of Tiana, sings “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans.” I’ve seen Leah perform at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival before, but there is nothing like her rendition of this song, which generations of our guests will now be able to experience. We can’t wait to share this heartwarming tune with all of you — thank you, Leah!

Recording session for Country Bear Musical Jamboree at Walt Disney World

Country Bear Musical Jamboree

As we near the opening of Country Bear Musical Jamboree this summer at Walt Disney World, Imagineers have been hard at work preparing the new Disney tunes you will soon hear! Country Bear Musical Jamboree will include easter eggs from the beginning to the end, including a familiar tune fans may remember, the bears will sing new, reinterpreted Disney songs in different genres of country music — like bluegrass, pop-country, Americana, rockabilly and other styles. 

Among the many songs coming to the show’s new rendition are “Try Everything” and “A Whole New World” from the Walt Disney Animation Studios films “Zootopia” and “Aladdin.” It’s a full-blown hoedown featuring a new spin on the songs like you’ve never heard before — complete with fiddles, mandolins, banjos and more!

Paying homage to the musical revues of Nashville, Imagineers worked alongside record-breaking 10-time CMA Musician of the Year, Mac McAnally, on the music — McAnally is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame and Alabama Music Hall of Fame. For the voice of the beloved bear, Trixie St. Claire, country singer Emily Ann Roberts added her twangy vocals to “Try Everything.” Allison Russell and Chris Thile slowed things down a bit with a mandolin-style of “A Whole New World” for Wendell and Teddi Barra.

“I’ve never done anything like this, where the song is truly coming to life before folks’ eyes,” shared Emily Ann. “It was really neat to hear the whole concept and then being able to stand behind the mic and think ‘how do I put myself in Trixie’s shoes?’”

Disney Dreams That Soar Presented by AT&T at Disney Springs

Disney Dreams That Soar Presented by AT&T

This summer, get ready to hear even more music! Recently, the creative team behind “Disney Dreams That Soar Presented by AT&T” stepped into the studio to create a new song for the limited-time Disney Springs drone show.

Written by Disney Live Entertainment music producer, Andrew Lipinski, with his young daughter in mind, this powerful anthem captures the show’s message of taking your dreams to the next level. In fact, he was so inspired by the show, Andrew went home following a team brainstorm and immediately penned the song we now hear in the show’s finale.

“My hope is that when people hear the finale song, they’re motivated to chase their dreams and to inspire others to chase theirs too,” Andrew expressed. “I think the best part of this song is the feeling of wanting to have togetherness and that’s what cuts through.”

The music of Disney theme parks is something that, once you hear it, it stays with you forever. That sense of nostalgia and the ability to share these musical moments with others is what makes Disney music so special and timeless. So, the next time you visit a Disney theme park, stop and listen — you might be surprised at what you hear and how it makes you feel.

Want to hear more about what’s being dreamed up, designed and created? Follow the Imagineers every step of the way on YouTube and Instagram, Disney Live Entertainment on Instagram and stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes stories on the Disney Parks Blog. You never know where the next exciting bright idea might pop up!