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The Untold History of Disney's Most Famous Band

 The Golden Years

Disneyland Band

Image: Carlos, Flickr (license)

The band grew to its stable size of 18 members, many of whom had played the band’s very first set! The band was a sense of security for the musicians, something that is very rare to come across in the professional music world. The musicians became Disney characters in their own right with each of their unique personalities featured in the band’s sound. The Band added new tunes to the repertoire, picking up some of their most iconic marches: The Mickey Mouse March, Once Upon a Dream, and the lyrical When You Wish Upon a Star. The band played more than 1,000 concerts a year, most of which within Disneyland.

The Disneyland Band also began to travel, taking their whimsical sounds around the West. They performed in Southern California’s prominent Segerstrom Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. With their great musical power came great responsibility, and the Disneyland Band was up to the task. In 1983, the band took their music to local elementary and middle schools, showcasing the arts and encouraging children to engage their imagination. This 30+ year tradition has inspired countless children to pursue music in their lives.

The Band Breaks Up 

Disneyland Band Opens the NAMM Show

Image: Disney Parks Blog

After 58 years of magical musical memories, the unthinkable happened. Disney put out a memo to the band that the Disneyland Band as it was known was to be no more. If members wished to remain in the band, they would have to re-audition with the rest of the aspiring musicians. The Original Disneyland Band ended its performance run a day before the beginning of the Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration. Only two of the original Band members would return the next day.

The Band that debuted with the 60th anniversary was redefined and reimagined. It was a high energy exhibition of musical and marching prowess very similar to Disney’s All-American College Band. The new band did away with the upper woodwinds in favor of an all brass, saxophone arrangement. Gone were the Sousa-esque marches in favor of Drum Corp style show tunes.

 Atmosphere Groups

Image: Disney Parks Blog

The remaining band members were spread throughout the park in small atmosphere groups like the Pearly Band. Original Band members were stunned by Disney’s aggressive move and felt it an insult that they were not to be in the Band for the 60th anniversary. Despite an online petition and many supporters, the Original Band has never performed again.

The two bands are incomparable. One celebrates the music that drove forward the golden age of marching music while the other pushes the limits of showmanship. The original band had a sordid, lightly sound while the 60th band plays with the musical strength of a hundred musicians. Each band has a place in the Happiest Place on Earth, yet one remains in history.

The Disneyland Band has performed more than 50,000 concerts and marched more than 3,500 miles in its amazing tenure. As long as Disneyland opens its gates, the Band will perform day in and day out for hundreds of millions of guests. For yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the Disneyland Band has crafted a legacy to be heard.

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