Disneyland Paris Pianist Gijs Van Winkelhof and Priscilla Pfalz Release Walt Disney World Nighttime Spectacular Music Medley, Plus an Interview
Every Disney theme park fan has their favorite Disney World nighttime show, but what if you could have a little bit of all of them? Thanks to musicians Gijs Van Winkelhof and Priscilla Pfalz, that’s now a possibility with their new 12-minute long music medley, containing snippets from beloved shows such as “IllumiNations”, “Wishes”, the Main Street Electrical Parade, and many more!
Gijs and Priscilla were kind enough to answer some of our questions about putting together this wonderful creative endeavor.
WDWNT: What inspired you both to create this celebration of Disney nighttime shows?
Gijs Van Winkelhof: Last December, after purchasing a new digital stage piano I was experimenting with all of its interesting features and sounds. I came upon an electric piano setting which was reminiscent of those classic Disney power ballads from the 90s. I realized that playing songs like ‘SpectroMagic’ and ‘Happily Ever After’ on that ‘Disney Piano’ gave them a new energy and warmth. I thought it would be really cool to record a medley of all the nighttime spectaculars at Walt Disney World in the style of those iconic power ballads. I asked my friend Priscilla Pfalz to record the vocals with me. Last year we recorded a cover of the duet ‘New Horizons’ from EPCOT’s ride ‘Horizons’.
We hope the video will bring back lots of fond memories for everyone, and will introduce music from the past that people haven’t necessarily heard before. We know that there won’t be any nighttime spectaculars at Disney Parks the next couple months due to COVID-19, and we see the Concert as a way to bring the joy of these iconic shows into people’s homes!
What’s your favorite nighttime show?
PriscillaPfalz: Living in The Netherlands, and only visiting Walt Disney World for one day as part of a larger Florida road trip, the only nighttime show I’ve seen at Walt Disney World is Rivers Of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I already knew the soundtrack because of Gijs, so it was wonderful to see the show in person. It was a perfect way to end my birthday. A show that I really would have loved to see is ‘Wishes’. The music is arranged in such a brilliant way! My favorite song is, without a doubt: “Promise”.
Gijs: This is a really difficult question to answer. The finale of Fantasmic gives me chills every time! Wishes makes me the most nostalgic and the soundtrack of ‘IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth’ is very special to me. The music was composed especially for EPCOT and it has a very unique atmosphere. I love the “World Music” influences in the soundtrack which fit the World Showcase very well. Now that IllumiNations is no longer there I really miss hearing the music. The only place you can still hear it is at American airports at customs!
What challenges did you face combining these songs into a single experience?
Gijs: Priscilla and I had to find the right keys for all the songs so it would be singable for us both. Sometimes it’s a duet and at other times there are layered harmonies of multiple Gijses and Priscillas. Most of my videos are piano recordings, but for this project I made an arrangement using a wide variety of instruments. Throughout the video there are many musical “easter eggs”, so be sure to listen closely.
How long did it take to put together?
Gijs: We started recording Priscilla’s vocals back in February, but because of the quarantine we temporarily shelved the project, so I could release my EPCOT Piano Medley Part 2 first.
We brainstormed a lot about the order of songs, their placement in the Concert, and the transitions from one song to the next. The final product sounds very different to the initial recording session in February.
In June, Priscilla and I came together to record the music video. It took us four full days to record everything. I must also thank my father Piet who was enormously helpful with the recording of the in-studio shots. Using color changing LEDs, we were able to create a unique palette for each song. In June in The Netherlands it doesn’t get dark until 10:30pm, so recordings stretched into the early morning including a session that lasted until 5am!
How did this piece stretch you creatively?
Gijs: I have never worked on a project so creatively challenging before! From learning new video editing skills and software, to coordinating several multi-layered harmonies, this video represents many days of in-depth research, compiling, recording, and editing. Through the process, it was a challenge to balance the retro elements, with modern standards and tastes, both in music and video. But, I have to say that I’m quite pleased with the result. I’m grateful to everyone who gave me permission to use their footage in the final production. And I really hope that everyone who enjoys the Disney Parks as much as I do, watches and shares this labor of love!
Be sure to check out all of Gijs’s wonderful arrangements over at his Youtube page or follow him on Twitter for his frequent concert live streams.