Because Disney songs often focus on universal themes such as love, hope, and self-reflection, they still resonate with us long past the point of aging out of the Disney movies from our past. The beautiful songs about Disney World, both within and beyond the parks, are still so full of magic. I still cry whenever I hear Go the Distance during Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After fireworks. Why? Because I can go the distance; I have gone the distance. We all have.
Come with me as we relive the magic of the songs about Disney World and reconnect with our inner child and a world of whimsy!
Happily Ever After
Sung by Jordan Fisher and Angie Keilhauer, Happily Ever After is the main theme song that plays during the aptly named Happily Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Though the show references other iconic Disney Songs like Friend Like Me, I See the Light, and You’ll Be in My Heart, the parts featuring both Keilhauer and Fisher’s vocals are enough to send any Disney fan into tears.
There’s just something so magical and heartwarming about reminding guests that their happily ever after is within reach. Regardless of tragedy, separation, or loss, the idea that there’s still so much magic and love and beauty to be sought after is nothing short of beautiful and iconic.
In the same vein as Happily Ever After, Wishes was the theme song to Disney’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular at Magic Kingdom. This fireworks show debuted on October 9, 2003, and ended on May 11, 2017, being replaced by Happily Ever After, the park’s current nighttime display.
Just like how Happily Ever After is with fans now, Wishes was a cult favorite among Disney goers for the 14 years it was around.
After a brief intro by Jiminy Cricket, Wishes played snippets of famous Disney songs sung by princesses, princes, and other characters such as Cinderella, Snow White, Pinnochio, Aladdin, Peter Pan, the Snow Queen, Ariel, and the Blue Fairy – and guess what they all had in common? Mentions of wishes, of course!
From Pinnochio wishing he could be a real boy and Peter Pan wishing he and his friends could never grow up to Snow White wishing that, one day, her prince would come, these lyrics highlighted the heart and soul of these classic films and made everyone believe that, as Jimmiy Cricket once poetically said, “…any wish is possible!”
Let us know in the comments if you miss Wishes!
One Little Spark
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Figment, you can’t deny that One Little Spark is one catchy little tune.
Written by the uber-talented Sherman Brothers in the early 1980s, One Little Spark is the theme song for Journey Into Imagination over at EPCOT. In the original iteration of the ride – between 1983 and 1998 – the song was performed by the Dreamfinder and Figment.
After the ride’s 2002 refurbishment (which ironically wasn’t its first since opening), One Little Spark’s lyrics were updated.
Here’s a comparison between the two songs:
Journey Into Imagination
“One little spark, of inspiration is at the heart of all creation. Right at the start of everything that’s new, one little spark lights up for you. Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow. Horn of a steer, but a lovable fellow. From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment. And there, viola, you’ve got a Figment. We all have sparks, imaginations. That’s how our minds create creations. For they can make our wildest dreams come true. Those magic sparks, in me and you. Imagination, imagination. A dream can be a dream come true with just that spark, in me and you.”
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
“For every sound your ears are hearing, a thousand thoughts can start appearing. And each of us, imagines different things from just a sound, your mind has wings. One spark of light can light your fancy. Your mind sees more than what your eyes see. Your sense of sight can make your fancy fly. There’s more to sight than meets the eye. One awful whiff can send you reeling. One lovely sniff can be appealing. Your mind can find what enters through your nose. That’s how you tell a shunk is not a rose. With just a spark of inspiration, I’ve made my house an innovation. Imagination really clowns around. Mix downside up and upside down. We all have sparks, imaginations. That’s how our minds create creations. We set them free and oh what they can do. Those magic sparks from me and you. Imagination. Imagination. A dream can be a dream come true with just that spark from me and you. One little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation. Right at the start of everything that’s new one little spark lights up for you.”
The updated lyrics reference the parts of the updated ride, however, regardless of which version you’re listening to, that chorus – One Little Spark – is an iconic part of Epcot and Disney World history, giving reference to Walt and how his one little spark of imagination created an imaginative world for me and you.
Read more: Your Guide to All Things Disney Figment
There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
Has anyone ever been successful in not singing along to There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow when the scenes change over in The Carousel of Progress?
This iconic tune was written by the Sherman Brothers in preparation for The Carousel of Progress’ debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
Though it’s now synonymous with this Tomorrowland ride, it has only been playing since 1994. This is because, when the ride was originally transported to Walt Disney World from Disneyland in 1975, the ride’s sponsor, General Electric requested that a new song be developed.
Of course, the Sherman Brothers complied and wrote a new song, but There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow eventually made its way back after Tomorrowland’s 1994 update. It’s been around ever since!
Though the song is all about progress and what new and exciting things are in store, the Sherman Brothers considered this song an ode to Walt and the visionary he was. I have to agree: it describes Walt and his enthusiasm for the future perfectly.
It’s a Small World
Whether you love it or hate it, It’s a Small World written by the Sherman Brothers achieved its goal of creating one of the most iconic Disney songs of all time! The song plays throughout the “it’s a small world” ride in Disney World, however, it is performed in different languages at various points in the ride, including both Italian and Spanish.
What people may not know is that not only does the song predate the actual attraction, but it was inspired by the Cuban Missle Crisis in the early 1960s. Though the song underwent some changes before it became the classic we know today, the overarching theme of similarities despite our differences still resonates and will likely persist for decades to come.
Nothing Can Stop Us Now
Though Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been around for less than five years, its on-ride theme song has already cemented itself as a fan favorite among guests.
Sung in the ride by both Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Nothing Can Stop Us Now is an upbeat tune about overcoming any obstacles that come your way – and if you’ve ridden Runaway Railway you know that obstacles are a plenty! (Thanks, Goofy!)
On top of just being a catchy tune, it’s kind of cheeky, too, with lyrics like “And absolutely nothing will go wrong” before, well, everything does! It’s a relatable reminder that plans may go awry but it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the ride.
…now wait a minute! That kind of sounds like a Walt Disney World vacation, doesn’t it? Check out this blog about how to make the most of your time at the parks even when it’s raining.
Disney can try and downplay this song all they want, but visitors of Disney World the world over will always connect the parks with this iconic theme song first introduced in the film Song of the South. In the film, it was sung by actor James Baskett who portrayed Uncle Remus.
Though the film was released during a sordid period of our country’s history, Baskett’s iconic performance was praised by critics. Despite opposition from groups who were disappointed in Baskett’s decision to take the role, he ultimately stood by his decision saying, “I believe that certain groups are doing my race more harm in seeking to create dissension than can ever possibly come out of the ‘Song of the South.”
Baskett plays an influential role in Disney’s history. Not only was he the first live actor to be officially hired by Walt Disney, but his vocals made Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah one of the most iconic songs to date, having been synonymous with Splash Mountain for more than 30 years until its recent closure in 2023.
Looking on the bright side of life is what this song’s all about, and that’s a reminder we can all use now and again. Though it may be tough at times, everything has the power to be satisfactual! Thanks, Mr. Baskett!
We Go On
For nearly 20 years, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth stole the show over the World Showcase Lagoon in Epcot. The show debuted on October 1, 1999, and wowed guests as soon as it lit up the nighttime sky.
The real star of the show, however, was the song We Go On, performed by Kellie Coffey. Debuting in the final act of the show, the Earth Globe opened up to release shells that created an awe-inspiring white firework display. It was truly a sight to see, which is why fans were so heartbroken when it closed in September 2019.
As the title suggests, the prominent theme in We Go On is just that – that we, as the human race, will continue to go on and move forward: “We go on moving forward, now as one moving on with a spirit born to run, ever on with each rising sun to a new day. We go on. We go on.”
Kinda sounds like Walt Disney himself, doesn’t it a little bit?
When You Wish Upon a Star
I have to round out this list with When You Wish Upon a Star. Not only does this song encapsulate everything that Disney World stands for, but it is used in most promotional videos the park releases, including commercials, as well as in the first few notes of their cruise line horns, fireworks, nighttime displays, parades, and at the beginning of their classic films. And these are all just the tip of the iceberg!
The song was written in 1940 for the film Pinocchio and originally performed by the voice actor behind Jiminy Cricket, Cliff Edwards. It has been beloved the world over, even placing seventh on The American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest Songs in Film History. It’s just THAT iconic.
Even without all the accolades it possesses, the popularity of When You Wish Upon A Star persists because of the hope that comes from believing that what you want is coming for you, and better yet, that it’ll come true. Believing in this feels like magic. It’s the unofficial theme song of Disney, but for us Disney adults, it’s the theme song of our life.
Some Final Thoughts About the Most Popular Songs About Disney World
There’s a common theme among these songs about Disney World: hope. Each song – and in its own way – talks about the hope for tomorrow, the hope for opportunities, the hope for love, the hope for the future.
When I think about Disney, I think about how the love for Disney World, the films, and the songs have persisted for generations in my family. That love of magic, their hope for me and my future…those are things that have been passed down from my grandparents to my parents, to me, and hopefully one day soon, my own children.
It’s not just the love of Disney we hold dear, but the lessons that stay with us. There’s a beautiful thing about holding hope and excitement for your future – and these are the best songs about Disney World that capture just that.
Now go, let your dreams guide you. Reach out and find your happily ever after.
As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.