Music, the emotive finishing touch

Whilst the environment, decoration, themed rides, characters, and shows are fundamental in the delivery of the story, music also has an important role to play in cultivating the ‘magic’ in a themed area.
Written by
Declan Dempsey
Published on
13th August, 2020

Theme Parks are an immersive experience, full of emotion, happiness, curiosity, and wonder. They offer a unique channel of escapism, removing yourself from the everyday hustle of life and transporting you to a magical alternate reality. Perhaps an aspect of a theme park that is often overlooked by the consumer but is crucial to the notion of ‘theme’, is music.

Many theme parks nowadays want to tell the guests a story. Whilst the environment, decoration, themed rides, characters, and shows are fundamental in the delivery of the story, music also has an important role to play in cultivating the ‘magic’ in a themed area. Music within a theme park can be looked at as falling under the ‘augmented’ product category; something that is not inherently within the core offering, but rather adds to or enhances the core experience.

We cannot go any further without also discussing this notion in reference to music in films. Just as music is vital to the setting, story and experience of a film, music is equally vital when we are immersed in a story in a theme park.

Can we imagine a film like Star Wars without the “Imperial March”? Could we even imagine Harry Potter without its famous “Hedwig’s Theme”? I’m sure snippets of either of these pieces just popped into your head.

Both these pieces, among countless others, mark the iconic nature of a piece of music within a story. Music seemingly enhances the emotion of the moment. The instruments, tone, rhythm, and tempo all combine to match what the viewer is feeling in that moment. An excellent score on its own can transport you back to the exact moment in the film and evoke the same emotions that were felt at that time.

Without a doubt, when we think of film scores, theme music and now even theme park music, we think of Disney. In the words of Matt Walker, head of Walt Disney Imagineering Music Studio, and conductor William Ross…

MW: “Music has the power to transcend language and drive the stories we tell throughout our parks to create life-long memorable experiences.”

WR: In creating a theme park ride or attraction, music is an invaluable part of the rider’s experience. It can help ensure that we really do feel things like anxiety, terror, curiosity, empathy, humour, attraction, heroic relief, etc. when taking a heart-pounding ride through a haunted forest or experiencing the wonders of a balloon ride over some far away land.”

Whilst theme parks around the world won’t have access to the brilliance of John Williams or Hans Zimmer, parks ought to ensure the guests experience within a themed environment is complimented by music. Queueing up for a haunted house style of attraction should be met with some fear-evoking sounds, like high pitched shrieking or the use of minor chords.

Likewise, a space exploration-type attraction should look to feature sounds that evoke a sense of curiosity or adventure. Although the core offering of the attraction is not hindered without the use of music, I think we can all agree that the use of music will most certainly create a deeper immersion, and thus a more memorable experience.

About Declan Dempsey, Marketing & Business Development Intern at Pico Play

Declan Dempsey Intern at Pico Play

Declan is our newest ‘virtual’ intern at Pico Play. He brings a strong passion for music, technology and environmental sustainability to Pico Play, alongside his nearly completed bachelor’s degree in marketing from Monash University. Declan hopes to learn and grow as a young professional and assist in the creation of unforgettable experiences that the team at Pico Play strive to achieve.

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