Sherman Brothers and Walt Disney

The Legacy of Sherman Brothers Music at Disneyland

Disney fans were shocked and saddened last weekend with the news of the passing of Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman. Richard, along with his brother Robert, made a lasting impact on not only music in Disney movies as well as other non-Disney projects, but the Disney theme parks as well.

Richard and Robert Sherman - Disney Legends - Sherman Brothers

Just about everywhere you turn at Disneyland, you’ll hear music from the Sherman Brothers. Here’s a look at music from the Sherman Brothers that has been featured and/or continues to be featured at Disneyland.

Let’s start this musical journey in Adventureland. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room was the first full-length Audio Animatronic show anywhere in the world. With the opening of this show came two songs from the Sherman Brothers – “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” and “Let’s All Sing Like The Birdies Sing.” These two songs open the show, and you can always hear guests of all ages sing along to these classic songs. Sometimes guests are even singing the songs before they enter the show.

This musical journey continues in Fantasyland at “it’s a small world.” This attraction was first introduced at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. The original concept of the attraction was supposed to feature the National Anthems of each featured country. However, this sound resulted in a disharmonic cacophony. Walt conducted a walk-through of the attraction scale model with the Sherman Brothers saying “I need one song that can be easily translated into many languages and be played as a round to write a song. That’s where everyone’s favorite song “it’s a small world” came to be. It was originally written as a prayer for peace. If you have ever heard it played slowed down as Richard Sherman performed it many times over the years, you can definitely hear the meaning behind the song. You can’t forget the holiday version, which was also written by the Sherman Brothers and mixes “it’s a small world” with “Jingle Bells” and “Deck The Halls.” “it’s a small world” holiday debuted in 1997, and continues to delight guests every holiday season.

The New Tomorrowland, which opened in 1967, also featured music from the Sherman Brothers. Carousel of Progress, which also debuted at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, made its way to Disneyland. The Carousel of Progress reopened at Disneyland on July 2, 1967, with only small differences from the World’s Fair version. The attraction opened nearly seven months after Walt’s death, as part of the New Tomorrowland. “There’s A Great, Big Beautiful Tomorrow” was written for the show, and continues to delight guests to this day at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Florida. However, if you take a ride on the Disneyland Railroad from Mickey’s Toontown Depot to Tomorrowland Station, you can hear an instrumental of the song on the train during the spiel.

Adventures Thru Inner Space

Another attraction that was part of the New Tomorrowland in 1967 was Adventures Thru Inner Space. This attraction was designed to simulate humans shrinking to a size smaller than an atom (the “inner space”). As guests waited in line they saw those before entering one end of the Monsanto Mighty Microscope. The other end of the Monsanto Mighty Microscope had a glass tube in which the supposedly miniaturized riders could be seen moving through. The microscope was aimed at a panel beyond which snow could be seen falling. This attraction featured “Miracles From Molecules.” This attraction closed in September 1985 to make way for Star Tours.

America on Parade

The Sherman Brothers left the Walt Disney Studios in 1968, but were called upon to write music for “America On Parade,” the bicentennial parade that ran at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom from 1975 to 1977. They wrote “A Glorious Fourth,” which was featured in the parade.

In October 1982 with the opening of EPCOT Center, the Sherman Brothers once again collaborated on songs for Future World in EPCOT and an attraction called “Magic Journeys.” The song they wrote was “Makin’ Memories.” This attraction and song was also featured at Disneyland in the Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland. The attraction opened on June 16, 1984, and closed in July 1986.

1998 brought along yet another revamping of Tomorrowland at Disneyland. A new attraction called “Rocket Rods” had replaced the famous PeopleMover on the same track using new technology. The Sherman Brothers had written a song that was used in “The Happiest Millionaire” called “Detroit.” It was renamed “World of Creativity (Magic Highways of Tomorrow),” which was arranged and performed by Steve Bartek. The attraction closed in September 2000 for maintenance, and officially closed in April 2001.

In April 2003, a new attraction called “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” opened in Critter Country at Disneyland. A version of this attraction had opened at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in September 1998. Of course, the Sherman Brothers wrote many of the songs featured in the attraction including “Winnie the Pooh,” “The Rain, Rain, Rain, Came Down, Down, Down,” “Heffalumps & Woozles,” and “Hip Hip Pooh-Ray!” The attraction continues to be enjoyed by guests of all ages.

As Disneyland’s 60th anniversary was approaching in 2015, two new songs were written for the a new fireworks show called “Disneyland Forever” – the theme song “Live the Magic” and the exit song “Kiss Goodnight.” “the “Kiss Goodnight” was written by Richard M. Sherman, and featured vocals by Ashley Brown, who had originated the role of Mary Poppins in the Broadway musical. “Richard Sherman composed the beautiful song “A Kiss Goodnight”, which plays at the conclusion of “Disneyland Forever.” The title is a reference to Walt Disney’s feeling that nighttime fireworks provided guests with, as Sherman recalls, “a little kiss goodnight” after a day in the park. Other Sherman Brothers songs including “Steps In Time,” “Heffalumps & Woozles,” and “I Wanna Be Like You.”

So no matter where you go around Disneyland, you are bound to hear a song or two or three written by the Sherman Brothers. Their music will forever leave a lasting legacy and memory for years to come at not only Disneyland, but Disney Parks around the world.