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sounds at Diz

28 Mar
Explanation of title: According to a Disney cast member we met today, people at Disneyland call the park "diz" or "the park" or "DCA" (for California Adventure)

Ok, on to other thoughts. Warning: Will be disjointed and not written very…intelligently… (or, eloquently) because I am very very tired (after spending the day at Diz), but wanted to get these thoughts up. Some of this is from today, some of this is from last month when I went.

Pirates:
1) It's like a movie. Where each room you pass is a different scene. And visually, it changes with each room you pass. Aurally, it fades, but remnants of the last "scene" or room still seep into the current.
2) There are two types of sounds on the ride – the produced sounds (or mechanical sounds), and the "real" sounds. The produced sounds are the ones that are recorded and reproduced. In pirates, this means the voices, the singing, the bullets and cannon shots, the dog barks, the instruments. Almost EVERY sound you hear on the ride is a produced sound. The real sounds are few and far between. Mostly sound of water. Or, for example, a great combination of the two are in the cannon battle scene. Where there are simulations of cannonballs hitting the water. The sounds of the cannonballs are all recorded, yet they blast water up, and the water hitting the surface of the, well, water from whence it came, is a "real" sound. There aren't much of these in ride.
3) The experience is so aurally immersive that you don't hear people talking, unless they're sitting RIGHT next to you. And even then, it's hard to hear them. Very much like a movie. Which I found was really the point (John Hench, head Imagineer, seems to imply) — actually, we went to check out the Little Mermaid ride preview in DCA, and the layout plans of the ride show each section as a "Scene". As in, "Scene 8 – Ariel's escape" or something like that.

Fantasmic:
One thing really struck me during the fireworks. They play music during the fireworks. And the fireworks visually works with the music. Like, you'd see a burst of something or other on the downbeat, or a significant syncopated beat in the music. HOWEVER. As we all know, the burst you hear from fireworks occurs later than the burst you hear (which, I believe, is simply due to the scientific fact that light travels faster than sound). So the SOUND of the fireworks is in complete disjunction with the music. And yet, it seems like people don't CARE. It doesn't seem to affect the experience in any way, as long as the visual falls in place with the music. This is not only another example of visual hegemony, but that people are so taken in by the produced-ness of the experience, that there is a certain kind of deafness to the VERY LOUD boom that comes with the fireworks – it's heard but not really heard. The loudest sound of this produced experience is one that is unavoidable, and yet somehow forgotten. It's an aural signal that is expected to be disjointed, yet doesn't disrupt the produced experience.

Main Street:
I have to go back and listen to this, but it seems like people are lethargic around 3pm, very lively heading back into the part (presumably after an afternoon nap) around 7pm, then restless to go home at around 10pm. I just remember 3pm being very quiet. And the produced music was everywhere on Main Street. Lots of swing music, some ragtime, some musical, marching band-type music, and the music is continuous anywhere you go on Main Street, although if you listen closely enough, you can figure out where the speakers are, even though Diz tries very hard to hide them and make the sound seem sonorously magically present.

Jungle Cruise:
If you're talking about produced sounds creating an immersive experience for the audience, the Jungle Cruise does not do this. Especially if you're sitting in the back of the boat, where the motor is. You can't hear the guide at all. An example where real sounds overpower produced sounds and punctures (a bit) this frameworked experience Disney wants you to have. There's an interesting performative thing here too. Imagine being the guide and giving the same spiel for hours and hours on end, and needing it to sound fresh every time.

Tiki Room:
The split between produced sounds and real sounds (in this case, the mechanical sounds made by the animatronics technology that moves the birds and flowers mouths) is most pronounced here, and the real sounds probably the most ignored. The mechanical sounds are really percussive, and very noticeable, that at first, I thought it was part of the music, and was thinking, "huh. that's clever. they use the mechanical sounds to add to the produced and recorded sounds to make it sound more percussive." Until the flowers started singing some aria-type number, and then (because I was paying so much attention to it), the mechanical sounds started being distracting and overpowering. But probably only because I was listening for it. Everyone else seemed to not notice it at all – it didn't alter their experience…or the experience Walt Disney wants them to have. Again, another example to check reality at the door, to be willing to look past the real and buy into the experience (and pleasure — this is talked about in the "Inside the Mouse" book) of the park – the fabricated and constructed one – to only experience what you're SUPPOSED to. It's all pretty totalitarian.

On a completely unrelated note, I realize that I can hear my neighbors' coffee maker early in the morning from my bedroom (my bedroom and their kitchen are adjacent) – and it has to be early because any later and I hear the faint occasional sound of cars in the street, which actually overpowers the very VERY quiet coffee maker sounds. And, when my ear is physically touching my pillow or blanket at certain times, I can hear my heartbeat. Sound travels through solids best, I guess. I mean, I know that sound travels through solids best, but I guess that's the explanation for the latter one.

Ok, I'm going to bed before people think I'm completely discombobulated. Good night.

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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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