Entertaining shows, lovable characters and a clean, friendly atmosphere are certain to make the cut too.
''Music is a direct line to our emotions -- I can control the kind of emotion I want you to feel by the kind of music I play,'' said John Rust, a Hollywood soundtrack producer. ''We go to the effort of theming every other part (of a theme park). We need to theme the music too.''
The company hired Rust three years ago, when there was little but a rough design of the park. In doing so, Universal set out to create an entirely new sound for the park and its ''islands'' rather than use existing music.
''Usually, music is the last thing everyone thinks of instead of the first,'' Rust said. ''Music is usually badly underfunded.''
Other theme parks companies -- notably Disney -- have commissioned new music for parks and rides, but Universal officials say their parkwide effort is the most ambitious yet.
To make the project a success, Rust was given almost free rein. He opted to keep the well-known John Williams Jurassic Park score for the island of the same name -- some of the music was in the movie, some of it wasn't. Other than that -- with the exception of some short ditties associated with popular cartoon characters -- he decided to go with all new music.
In the Port of Entry, for example, Rust wanted an exotic, multicultural sound. In Lost Continent, which focuses on mythical themes, he sought an ethereal effect.
| Download a QuickTime video of Composer William Kidd and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra recording new music for Universal's Islands of Adventure. |
Listen to a Real Audio recording of Universal Florida's original music for Islands of Adventure.
He wanted something whimsical and silly for Seuss Landing, something powerful and rocking for Marvel Super Hero Island and something to unify the many theme songs associated with the characters of Toon Lagoon.
The music for Lost Continent and Port of Entry was recorded in December in Seattle, at locations ranging from a state-of-the-art soundstage to a former monastery. Recording sessions for Toon Lagoon, Seuss Landing and Marvel Super Hero Island will be held later this month in Los Angeles.
Creating so much new music is expensive and time-consuming, but Mark Woodbury, Universal's vice president of design and creative development, said it's time and money well-spent.
''What we do is create immersion experiences,'' he said. ''Music is a tremendous part of that.''
Giving music a starring role at Islands of Adventure makes sense for Universal, a company known for making movies, Woodbury said. Films rely on music to set a tone and foretell coming events -- and there's no reason a theme park can't do that too, he said.
Although music is important at Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood, both parks are based on movies and therefore have ready-made soundtracks, he said.
When it came time to come up with a new sound, Universal was open to all but the most outlandish ideas, said Tony Humecke, who composed music for Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon with his partner, Chip Smith.
Some Toon Lagoon music was deemed too dark, for example, but very rarely was the duo reined in, Humecke said.