Even if you don’t recognize them by name, I promise you that you’re familiar with the Sherman Brothers’ work. They wrote many film scores, but are most known for their pieces created for the Walt Disney Company. Composing music for everything from Mary Poppins to The Jungle Book, The Shermans first worked with Disney studios in 1961 on The Parent Trap. (You may recall Hayley Mills doubled and singing the unforgettable “Let’s Get Together.”)
Along with writing film scores and themes, they wrote several original songs for attractions in the Disney Parks. Keep reading to learn more about the history of their in-park works and to find out exactly where you can hear their music in Walt Disney World.
Attraction: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Songs: “Winnie the Pooh,” “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers,” and “The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down”
Let’s start with the most recent attraction and work our way backwards. Having opened in 1999, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is the only attraction on this list to feature multiple songs by the Sherman Brothers. These songs were originally written for Winnie the Pooh animated shorts in 1966, 1968, and 1974. Now, they can be heard as you get to explore the Hundred Acre Wood, bounce with Tigger, and float through the infamous Wood flood.
Attraction: Journey into Imagination with Figment
Song: “One Little Spark”
Located in EPCOT — Future World West — Journey into Imagination with Figment is currently on its 3rd incarnation. When the attraction originally opened, the Sherman Brothers tune “One Little Spark” was performed by audio-anamatronics — the Dream Finder and his purple dragon companion, Figment. The song was taken out during the second incarnation in 1999. Due to negative feedback, partly because of the removal of the song and the beloved character Dream Finder, this version of the ride was only open two years. The ride reopened again in 2002, this time reintroducing the character of Scientist Nigel Channing (played by Eric Idle) as well as the popular song.
Attraction: The Carousel of Progress
Song: “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”
Originally created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, The Carousel of Progress visits an American family over the course of several years exploring how their lives are impacted by various technological advances, all while getting the audience bobbing along to the Sherman Brothers’ earworm, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” The attraction was moved to Disneyland shortly after the World’s Fair. Replaced by America Sings in 1974, the attraction was moved to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and reopened in 1975. During this time, the sponsor — General Electric — commissioned a new theme song, “The Best Time of Your Life.” This occurred again in 1982 with yet another new song, “New Horizons.” (Both replacement themes were also written by The Sherman Brothers.) After GE dropped the sponsorship, the original theme was brought back in 1993.
Attraction: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Song: “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room”
The original Enchanted Tiki Room opened in Disneyland, with an almost identical attraction opening when The Magic Kingdom opened in Disney World. The show’s theme, “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” was the first song written for an audio-animatronic attraction. The Disney World attraction was re-imagined in 1998 as The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) starring Iago and Zazu. During this incarnation, the song was only played for a few seconds. The attraction was closed after a fire, and re-opened in 2011 with the full song and a show very close to the original Disneyland production.
Attraction: “it’s a small world”
Song: “It’s a Small World (After All)”
In Walt Disney World, “it’s a small world” is found in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland (and additionally appears in Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland). Also originally appearing at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the attraction in Orlando is based on the original (now housed at Disneyland). Walt Disney originally planned to play each country’s national anthem but soon realized the songs ran together during the attraction in an auditory experience that was less than desirable. He turned to the Sherman Brothers, asking them to write a simple, easily translatable tune that could be played in each nation’s language. Thus “It’s a Small World (After All)” was born, with a peaceful message said to be influenced by the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. It was originally played as a slow ballad, but Walt worked with the Shermans to create the upbeat, catchy tune we all know today. (It’s totally stuck in your head now, isn’t it?)
When visiting the Walt Disney World Parks, you’re not only immersing yourself in a world of entertainment and technology — you’re also visiting the history of the Walt Disney Company. Many of these attractions were created by Walt Disney, with his own one little spark, and lot’s of help by many other Disney legends like the Shermans.