Disney’s Imagineering – Sound

Disney is very well-known for the immersive experiences they are able to offer in their parks. Every little aspect has to tie in with the rest in order to form one amazing whole that is Disneyland/Disneyworld. Since I am a sound designer, I was interested in how do the Imagineers approach the problem of sound design specifically. It turns out that the parks offer a lot of unique challenges, as well as opportunities. There is a whole team of people working on the sound alone. A few music researchers look up different music online, determine the mood of each park attraction and come up with a bunch of ideas and a mood-board that is then given to the sound lead to create a piece. The pieces are made used different online music resources, as well as Disney’s own sound libraries and new sounds created specifically for the parks. In order to sonify the whole park, a lot of big and small speakers are hidden everywhere around the park. They all play at different times and volumes in order to simulate different effects. It is also very important to think about the difference between times of day within a sound composition. The style of the sound piece must perfectly match the theme of each park attraction. There are also different styles of speakers, from very directional, to ones that are more wide. There are also tons of materials with different levels of absorption around the park. The sound has to attract visitors to explore sections that appeal to them. The environment has to feel like a whole different realm. The sounds include anything from dinosaur roars, birds, fictional monsters, cicadas, wind, water, rainforest, and many, many others. As one approached to each ride, the sounds become less and less audible. Then a more robotic sound design is used to put focus on the rides themselves. As rides progress and take you into the centre of the action, all the incredible sounds come gushing back, hitting the visitors in. the face and leaving them in awe. The following video showcases all these principles and goes in depth on the topics i mentioned in this article: