Theme Park Insanity

How does the addition of themed audio help to create an overall experience and add depth to some of your favourite parks and attractions?

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How does adding themed audio and a well written score really help to bring to life our favourite rides and attractions?

Take a second and stop! Now think of your favourite ride or attraction and now imagine it completely silent. Doesn’t really have the same appeal does it?

At the end of the day rides and attractions are not only designed to thrill and excite, however they are also designed to invoke an emotional response from all of those who to choose to experience them. Now, this can be done in many different ways and these usually consist of using our senses to create a physical response with the aim of leaving a permanent imprint on our minds. Whether this be through the addition of scent or the addition of lighting there are many tricks creative designers can use to leave us with a lasting first impression after experiencing our favourite attractions worldwide. Some of the most powerful mediums of influence however aren’t always visual! Believe it or not there is so much that a well written and composed score or the addition of themed audio can achieve when it comes to doing just that, and you only have to look at the likes of scores created by notable industry composer IMAScore to realise this is the case.

The truth is that music can have so many different effects on the listener! In reality whether it’s creating a mindset of sorrow or one of pure exhilaration music and audio can very effortlessly influence an individual¬† to feel whatever form of emotion it is that a ride designer or creator wants them to feel. This mainly comes down to the way that certain pitches influence our state of feeling and you only have to look at how a babies cry for instance influences it’s mother into feelings of anxiety to realise just how powerful the effects of sound really are on our individual state of mind. In truth the effect sound has on us comes down to our primal origins and this is something within the human psyche that has endured since the beginning of time itself.

Now, with regards to theme park attractions we feel the addition of audio is an essential component when it comes to delivering an overall experience. Truth be told, if you consider the likes of the Dungeons or The Smiler for instance without their own very individual audio? Well then, they just wouldn’t have the impact they do now!

To explore this further let’s take a listen to this fantastic score created by Simon Allen for The Alton Towers Dungeon and discuss just how the composition it possesses helps to create feelings of anxiety and tension through the way it has been put together.

Alton Towers Dungeon Score created by Simon Allen - musical director and creator.

The feel of this particular piece is one of dread and despair! It possesses dramatic tones, sudden changes in pitch and the use of chains and chanting monks to really set the scene and create the atmosphere the Dungeons brand is so famously known for. In truth if you consider the Alton Towers Dungeon without this fantastic audio in reality it just wouldn’t have the same impact when you’re walking up to the entrance and this in itself stands testament to just how clever this piece of music really is. The piece also helps to invoke the listeners imagination and helps it to run wild over the prospects of what they will likely face in this medieval horror themed attraction!

Simon Allen is also most notably known for also creating many of the scores for the Alton Towers Resort’s famous Scarefest Scare Mazes such as Darkest Depths, Project 42 and The Attic: Terror of the Towers! He is also however known as being the creative mind behind the brand new Duel soundtrack as well (which we absolutely adore by the way).

Now, there are also much bigger industry composers out there as well and one such name which most of the enthusiast community will undoubtedly be familiar with is IMAScore? This fantastic German based themed score creator is renown for some of the most notable ride and attraction soundtracks across the industry. IMAScore have created soundtracks for everything from the likes of The Smiler at Alton Towers to Toverland’s brand new Avalon. IMAScore have also most notably created the iconic and highly catchy soundtrack for the Island like no other – Thorpe Park Resort themselves! This fantastic piece really does have everything from an overall upbeat tone to chilled out vibes in places and a the most catchy composition you are ever likely to hear at any UK park (barring Alton Towers of course which we don’t really include due to the fact their iconic soundtrack is an adapted piece of music and not purpose written for the resort).

To get a much better idea of what we mean here is a taster of this fantastic soundtrack from IMAScore themselves.

Thorpe Park Soundtrack taster shared from IMAScore's official YouTube Channel

In truth our favourite parks and attractions just wouldn’t be same without their unique and well written audio and this is down to the way they audio can make us feel. For instance the Thorpe Park score makes us feel an immense sense of happiness and joy, where as tones of Galactica’s soundtrack can almost invoke a sadness in us (don’t ask us why as we really still can’t quite explain that one to this day). Audio can have such an impact on how we perceive our favourite rides and attractions and it’s important next time you’re on your favourite ride to really appreciate the music which has been added.

Music and audio can also as previously mentioned invoke memories and this is none more prevalent for us than we we listen to the Nemesis soundtrack. Even the music alone never fails to bring a smile to our face and this is because of the connection this ride possesses for us. Nemesis is our number one coaster and for this reason when ever we hear the ride’s soundtrack we tend to grin from ear to ear like a god damn Cheshire cat!

Music can also however be used to set the tone of an attraction through the use of sound effects rather than melody. A great example of this is HEX’s queue line at Alton Towers. The perfect mixture of hammers hitting chisels, cracks of thunder, menacing whispered chanting and what sounds to be a wind blowing through the hall in which you’re stood in our opinion helps to create the perfect ominous and foreboding feel the ride is designed to have! To fully understand what we mean here’s your chance to have a listen for yourself.

HEX's Ambient queue line audio

As you can tell this piece of audio is foreboding and dread filled to say the least, however how does it make you feel?

Overall there is so much that ride designers and creators can achieve through the use of great audio and whether it’s making a person feel on edge and nervous, or whether it’s making an individual feel overcome by a sheer sense of joy a well written score or audio can achieve just that. Audio after all does illicit a primal emotional response and this is something which helps to create the connection you have to your favourite attraction. Another great example is the B&M roar (the noise made by B&M coasters as they traverse the track on which they run). The B&M roar is a sound which is universally loved by most coaster enthusiasts and if you want a better idea of what we mean then next time you’re at Alton Towers go and stand next to Nemesis and listen to the wonderful sound it makes as it races around the tracks!

For everything stated above we therefore feel that great audio is possibly one of the most integral contributing factors in creating a connection between the individual and the attraction in question. Great audio not only creates memories, however it also helps us to feel the intended emotional response we feel whilst experiencing them and for that reason our favourite rides and attractions just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Finally here is a listen to one of our all time favourite ride scores – Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach! What’s your favourite ride score? Let us know in the comments below.

Icon Score - written and composed by The Notable Stranger

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