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It would be impossible to list all the accomplishments of Disney Legends, Richard and Robert Sherman. “The Boys,” as they were known to all, including Walt Disney himself, are some of Americas most prolific songwriters. Oscars, Grammys, the National Medal of Arts, induction in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame are all honors bestowed upon them.
Some of their most famous songs such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Two Golden Globes) and “You’re Sixteen” (first performed by Johnny Burnette and later by Ringo Starr) were not Disney productions. Another non-Disney song is one of my favorites, “Mother Earth and Father Time” from Charlotte’s Web.
There is much information available on their life and work, so I won’t go into that. What sparked my idea for this blog is the announcement Disney made within the framework of the 60th Anniversary celebrations of Disneyland. Two new original songs by surviving Sherman brother, Richard Sherman, will be featured as part of the “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular.
Touring the parks in the footsteps of the Sherman Brothers
So let’s take a walk in the parks and discover the many Sherman Brothers tunes that we all cherish by visiting the attractions connected to them. My list is not meant to be complete; it is more an attempt to remind us of the incredible music the Sherman brothers produced over the years.
“Up, Down, Touch the Ground” and “The Wonderful Things About Tiggers” are just some of the unforgettable songs from Winnie the Pooh. You can experience The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, at Critter Country at Disneyland in California and at Fantasyland at the Hong Kong Disneyland.
Love it or hate it but the music of the ride it’s a small world became an instant hit when it was introduced at the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s UNICEF pavilion. Today the ride is well and alive at the Magic Kingdom in Florida and at Disneyland California, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland.
The first time a song was written for an audio-animatronic attraction, it was a Sherman Brothers tune that was chosen. This is how “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” became the official song for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.
Talking about animatronics let’s not forget the Carousel of Progress and the Sherman brothers hit “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” First introduced at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Carousel of Progress opened in 1967 in Disneyland. It closed there in 1973, but enjoys continues success in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.
And which pets possess the finest pedigree? Of course The Aristocats! None other but famous French singer Maurice Chevalier performed the Sherman brothers theme song of The Aristocats. You do not have to go to Paris to meet Marie, as she greets guest daily on Town Square at the Magic Kingdom.
The United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot is home to Mary Poppins, star of one of the most beloved pictures Disney ever made. In 1965 the Sherman brothers won an Oscar for “Best Song” (Chim Chim Cher-ee) and an Oscar for “Best Original Score” for Mary Poppins.
Also in Epcot is Journey Into Imagination with Figment. The playful, purple dragon leads you on this tour of the Imagination Institute accompanied by the tune of the songwriter’s team “One Little Spark.”
While Tigger and Winnie the Pooh are greeting guests at the United Kingdom Pavilion, the Animal Kingdom is fittingly home to Baloo and King Louie whom you can meet in Asia. Who doesn’t know the catching tune of “Colonel Hathi’s March”, the mesmerizing “Trust in Me” song of the python Kaa or King Louie’s “I Wan’na Be Like You”?
I am convinced that the Sherman brothers music will continue to be part of the childhood of generations to come. While their names may not be known, their tunes and lyrics will be sung by children all over the world.
If you are interested in learning more about the life and work of this quintessential American songwriter team check out The Boys – a 2009 documentary made by their sons Jeffrey and Gregg Sherman. It is a fascinating look at how this duo created the tunes you know and love.
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Liliane Opsomer is the coauthor of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids and a freelance writer.
She is passionate about travel, Disney, fairies, hobbits and all things magical. Some of her favorite destinations are Orlando, Anaheim, Middle Earth, Belgium, Sydney, Dresden, Patagonia and Hawaii. Liliane lives in Birmingham, Alabama and visits the parks several times a year.