The Walt Disney Pictures movie Soul is notable for two things. As you may know, it’s the first Pixar film with a Black protagonist. Secondly, jazz figures prominently in the movie because many characters are jazz musicians and there are numerous musical sequences.
Now, in honor of Black History Month, the movie Soul will feature prominently in two different Walt Disney World attractions. As a Disney Parks Blog post explained, guests are invited to “celebrate soulfully” with experiences that “honor Black heritage and culture through music, food, art, and more.”
In Soul, the protagonist is Joe Gardner -- a jazz musician, teacher, and mentor. At The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure, guests will join Joe for a musical tour of cities that figured prominently in the history of jazz music in the U.S. -- including Chicago, New Orleans, and New York City. Along the way, guests will even see notable jazz artifacts, including Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.
“Our team at Walt Disney Imagineering is thrilled to bring the compelling story of jazz to EPCOT, and we were honored to work with jazz experts and institutions across the country to explore the rich history and influence of this ever-evolving genre of music,” Carmen Smith, executive of Creative Development & Inclusion Strategies, Walt Disney Imagineering, explained in a Disney Parks Blog post.
Pianist and bandleader Jon Batiste wrote the original jazz compositions and arrangements for Soul. To help guests prepare for the attraction, Disney also released this video of Batiste explaining why he is excited about The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure.
Disney Springs -- the shopping, dining, and entertainment district at Walt Disney World -- announced that it too invites guests to recognize Black heritage and culture by “celebrating soulfully.” The area will feature jazz-inspired performances as well as new art displays and special food.
“Three evenings per week -- Motown Mondays, Jazz Thursdays, and Smooth Sundays -- musicians will perform throughout Disney Springs, playing tunes sure to stir your soul,” Annette Gibbs, public relations manager of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, wrote on Disney Parks Blog. “Select dining locations will feature special menu items, including Amorette’s Patisserie offering treats inspired by Soul and Walt Disney Animation Studio’s The Princess and the Frog.”
Furthermore, several retail locations will feature products from “Black designers, artists, and visionaries,” Gibbs said.
Disney Springs will also feature new art displays inspired by Soul, a WDW News Today article explained.
The art was created by emerging Black artists Bee Harris, Bianca Pastel, Arrington Porter, and Cory Van Lew. The art, which is part of a HUE Unlimited wearable collection, was created in collaboration with Disney and Pixar. Each piece reflects the artist’s own interpretation of Soul.
Know Before You Go
Currently, all four Walt Disney World theme parks are open. However, Disney World noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “certain parks, hotels, restaurants, and other offerings may be modified, unavailable, [or] limited in capacity.” Be sure to check with Walt Disney World for more information as you make plans to visit.
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