Friday, May 6, 2016

Disney Song #4: Golden Dream

To Listen:  Original  / Updated

The Facts:
  • Composers: Robert Moline (music), Randy Bright (lyrics), Lynn Hart (additional lyrics)
  • Year: 1982
  • Key: C Major

Heard In: 
The American Adventure

Golden Dream is heard at the end of The American Adventure, the audioanimatronic theater show in Epcot's United States pavilion.  The whole show is an impressive technological feat -- not only the sets and animatronics but also the engineering of the theater itself.  I've heard that the sets run under the theater on a conveyor belt-like structure, and after each scene the set rotates off the stage and another one takes its place.  The show is hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain, and Twain is voiced by none other than John Anderson who played MacGyver's Grandpa Harry.

It's not easy to capture the entire history and spirit of America in 30 minutes, but the American Adventure does a remarkably good job.  Of course it's not perfect -- see my New World Bound post where I discuss the false claim that America started with the Pilgrims, or consider the Chief Joseph scene where Joseph gives a dramatic speech about how his people have been mistreated, only for Twain to totally miss the point by immediately following up with "The wisdom of the great Chief Joseph reminded us how far we came."  But enough nitpicking -- it's a great show and one that I never tire of watching.

Some highlights include the New World Bound opening, Frederick Douglass rowing down the Mississippi at night, the Two Brothers Civil War rendition, and the Brother Can You Spare A Dime sequence which features 4 old-timers hanging out at a Depression-era gas station with a light rain falling.  There's plenty of classic lines: "It's hard to make 13 clocks chime at the same time." "They're closing the harbor!"  "And don't forget 'me telephone!"  And I always have to laugh at the Teddy Roosevelt/John Muir Yosemite scene because Teddy gets so bent out of shape at poor John for no good reason. Simmer down, Teddy!

The highlight of the show is the finale: Golden Dream.  The original version lasted from '82 to '93 at which point the music was updated to include some additional vocals and lyrics.  The updated version is a big improvement (even though the original was already excellent) and the vocals especially added a lot of oomph.  Unfortunately they re-edited it again at some point in the late 2000's and moved the stanzas around and ended up making a hash of it -- still a great song but they should have left the music in the order that it was in since it flowed perfectly that way (and it had a moving natural climax with a shot of citizens grieving at the Vietnam Memorial).

While the song is playing, the audience sees images of famous Americans and events in an ethereal, cloudlike presentation.  It's hard not to get goosebumps when JFK starts speaking and then we see young JFK Jr. saluting as his coffin goes by.  I remember seeing the show soon after 9/11, and it still contained the final shot which was The Statue of Liberty with the Twin Towers in the background (I understand why they removed the towers, but it was quite powerful to see them there at the end of the song).  And then there is an excellent reprise of Golden Dream with Franklin and Twain standing on the Statue of Liberty torch while stars appear behind the statues on the side of the theater.

Overall, the music in this show (highlighted by Golden Dream) is timeless and makes the American Adventure must-see viewing for anyone going to Disney World.


  1. Nick,
    Glad to see that this one is up near the top of the list. I too have never tired of hearing and seeing the Golden Dream portion of the American Adventure attraction. I think that the creators were right on the money when they added in the speaking portions (JFK, MLK, and the lunar landing); those parts make great segues to the next portions of the music.