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How Disneyland Recruited Tank & The Bangas and a Tony Winner to Soundtrack New Fireworks Show

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As moonlight illuminates Disneyland Park’s Main Street, U.S.A., toddlers are gleefully hoisted onto shoulders, young couples nestle under Mickey Mouse blankets and groups of teenagers buzz with excitement. The mix of generations represented here have at least one thing in common: A real love for Disney’s creations.

The crowd is awaiting “Wondrous Journeys,” the park’s new nighttime event celebrating 100 years of Disney magic. In the span of a 15-minute, firework-filled spectacular, every milestone of the storytelling giant’s century-long history is projected onto the exterior of Main Street U.S.A. and the Sleeping Beauty Castle – from the first sketch of Mickey Mouse in 1927 to Disney’s upcoming 2023 film, Wish.

The display features nods to every Walt Disney Animation Studios film, coupled with lighting effects, fireworks and even Baymax from Big Hero 6, who at one point soars above the castle. It’s all set to a star-studded soundtrack arranged by Grammy Award-winning composer Christopher Lennertz, which features re-imaginings of Disney classics like “When You Wish Upon a Star” fused seamlessly with songs from modern-day films including “Almost There” from Princess and the Frog and “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto.


“When the team sat down, we realized that the core theme that binds everyone together when it comes to emotion, is music,” says Walt Disney Imagineering’s global head of music Tricia Holloway.

The first step in developing the show’s music component was putting together an acoustic blueprint for what would become the “Wondrous Journeys” soundtrack. “I really approached this project like a combination of a stage musical and animated feature,” says Lennertz. “I wanted the music to be precisely clear about telling our story, with motivated singing and lyrics, but also be joyous, vivid, and colorful, like the great animated art that we were paying tribute to.”

Once the 18-song piano and vocal demo was thoroughly reviewed by Disney’s team, including show director and creative music producer Jordan Peterson, it came time to decide who would perform each track. “We started brainstorming [and] put together a list of vocalists that we thought would help inspire the show and take it to another level,” says Holloway. “As we were looking to cast the vocalists, we were looking to people who perform in front of a live audience so that they could bring that energy and storytelling to the delivery of their vocals.”


In addition to more musical theater-centric acts suggested by her colleagues, Holloway threw a number of recording artists into the mix — reflective of her 20 years as a music supervisor in film and television at companies like Lionsgate and Nickelodeon. Through a combination of outreach to managers, agents and contractors, the soundtrack became a perfect blend of vocalists across musical disciplines, including Tarriona “Tank” Ball from Tank and the Bangas, Tony Award winner Lena Hall, jazz and soul singer Shoshana Bean, Ty Taylor from Los Angeles soul-rock band Vintage Trouble and pop duo Clyde and Gracie Lawrence.

“Being a part of Disney’s Wondrous Journeys was a dream come true,” says Ball, who, along with Taylor, jokingly referred to herself as “Disney royalty” after watching the show for the first time.

Hall, who performed “Immortal” from Big Hero 6, says she was “thrilled” when asked to be a part of the project. “I’m no Disney princess, so I thought it was cool they wanted to bring some real rock vocals to the show,” she says.

The “Wondrous Journeys” score was recorded over the course of a year across California, Nashville, New York City, London and Orlando, with an 80-piece orchestra, 16 lead vocalists and a 33-member choir. One of the elements Holloway is most excited about is the spectacular’s original opening song, “It’s Wondrous.”

When the Disney team received the track — originally a demo from songwriters Alex Ganga and Danny Brown — they loved the rendition so much that they opted to keep the demo vocalists for the final song. “It’s a folk-pop approach, bringing a different style than you typically would hear in the parks, something that you’d want to hear outside of the parks on its own,” says Holloway of the song.

Now, fans can hear “It’s Wondrous” whenever they want, as the track arrived on streaming platforms Friday (March 3).

“I think ‘It’s Wondrous’ is going to become part of the DNA of the Disney catalog,” Holloway says. “It isn’t from an actual film or character, but it captures the feeling and beauty that you find within all the animation films.”

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