November 17, 2012

The Forever CDs: Disney's All-Time Best Souvenirs

Disneyland Forever Walt Disney World CDs discs kiosks system
In the late 1990's, Disney introduced a new concept in merchandising at the parks: Disneyland Forever and Walt Disney World Forever. Fans could scarcely believe the good news; Disney was opening the vaults and allowing guests to choose their favorite park music on touch-screen kiosks, and then burn their own CDs. To Disney fans, this was a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket moment.
Disneyland Forever Walt Disney World CDs discs kiosks system
Across the country, die-hard park fans bumped up their vacations, called in sick to work, and began scouring the internet for lists of available tracks. So much treasure to choose from!

It was all so much fun. For the next several months, whenever a co-worker or friend would mention they were headed to Disneyland, I'd beg them to do me one tiny favor, then hand them a list of music and a twenty dollar bill. Before I even set foot in the park again, I'd gotten the biggies: all the available Pirates, Mansion and Tiki Room tracks.

A very nice internet friend volunteered to obtain my requested WDW tracks and mailed the disc to me without charging anything over the cost. 'Cause Disney fans tend to be awesome.
Disneyland Forever Walt Disney World CDs discs kiosks system
My little collection -- I know some fans got every single track.
And when I finally got down to Disneyland in person, I was ready. Boy, was I ready. For those of us on a tight budget, the fun -- and frustration -- was in deciding which of the tracks were most important. At about $20 for each disc of ten tracks, the Forever CDs weren't cheap, and thirty second sound effect clips cost the same as eight minute ride narrations. Like many fans, I stood there at the kiosks, checking my list, creating and ordering CDs until I ran out of cash.
Disneyland Forever Walt Disney World CDs discs kiosks system
A typically eclectic track list
The Forever kiosks were wonderful while they lasted, but the system had its flaws. The sound files were all over the map in terms of sound quality and volume level. The system broke down a lot. And--in the end--the process of creating and ordering a CD was too time-consuming and confusing for the average park goer. Fans loved it, but most guests ignored it. Sadly, the most wonderful souvenir system to ever grace the parks disappeared.

In the years that followed, of course, the cultural landscape changed. Sharing music became easier than ever, iTunes and Internet Radio became more and more prominent, and Disney themselves, with the help of great producers like Randy Thornton, turned out some amazing park soundtracks. The release of the 6-Disc Musical History of Disneyland made, for the first time, a comprehensive collection of park music and attraction ride-throughs easily available to consumers. Recent CD releases such as Finding Nemo: the Musical and Cars Land show that Disney seems to be more aware of the public's desire to take the music and ride soundtracks home.

Disneyland Forever Walt Disney World CDs discs kiosks system
The Inside Cover Dedication on each DL Forever CD
In this age of digital downloads, there seems to be no reason why Disney can't bring an updated Forever System online. They could set up an expansive and wondrous online store for purchasing park music and attraction sound files. The question is, do they want to?

They should, and they should make the purchasing an event in itself. They could offer the best-quality recordings and give purchasers club points for each download to be used toward obtaining limited-release collectibles.

Disney's current top brass certainly seem to have their eyes on the future. I just hope they don't forget to bring the treasures of the past along, and use today's technology to revive a great idea.


  1. The title of this post is exactly why I started following your blog the day I found it. This was the BEST souviner from the parks, and I only ever got one CD - but I spent forever putting it together and I listen to it all the time!!!!

    1. Ed, thanks! :) Deciding on a track list was definitely the most fun part of making the Forever CDs. I can understand why Disney discontinued the project, and the official soundtrack releases lately have helped fill the gap, but with all the new park music being added all the time, there's no reason Disney couldn't create a digital shop for this great material!

    2. I totally agree with you that this was the BEST souvenir Disney offered. I was able to bring home a few discs from WDW but never made it to Disneyland. I was in mourning when the kiosks disappeared and continue to hold out hope Disney will make tracks available on the internet as you suggest.

    3. I'm definitely with the idea of digital re-releases too. To be honest, i had just first know the presence of the forever kiosks just a while ago; when i was desperately searching whereabouts of the park audios across the internet. Until then i had been under the impression that these audio files were extracted from those CD-like releases that are sold in public. It took me a while to get here! :P Anyways, i understand that Disney had to discontinue the kiosk services due to the above reasons you had mentioned, but i'd still think it's a good idea to republish them again in according to the digital era we're currently living through. So the last point you brought up is like right in bull's eye. I know that Disney is fond of keeping and treasuring those shining shimmering magical ideas, my point is that i just like them to be brought along; like you said. Yeah, so basically... Disney should republicate those par sound in digital forms! Lol that last sentence pretty much sums things up. :D


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