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Oct 07

Disney “Traveling Around The World”- Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland – Part 4 – Carousel of Progress

Welcome back “World” travelers! I hope you enjoyed your trip through space with Buzz Lightyear. Now it’s time to take another journey through time. This time we will go back a few years and see how we all got here today on Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

Let me just start by saying that this is one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. Maybe it’s because Walt Disney himself had his hands on this attraction. This also happens to be one of the most historical attractions at Walt Disney World.

 

General Electric approached Walt Disney to develop a show for the company’s pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Walt leaped at the chance to rekindle his relationship with GE, who would fund the project and the new technology necessary to bring the vision to life. Walt Disney pitched the idea of an electrical progress show to the General Electric executives and they loved it. The show opened at the Fair as “Progressland” and was one of the most-visited pavilions at the Fair.

The Carousel of Progress was created by both Walt Disney and the Imagineers of WED Enterprises as the prime feature of the General Electric Pavilion for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. After its run at the World’s Fair, the Carousel of Progress was moved to Disneyland and re-opened on July 2, 1967, as part of the New Tomorrowland. Due to the success of the attraction Disney created for the World’s Fair, General Electric agreed to sponsor the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland where it remained from 1967 until 1973. It was replaced by America Sings in 1974, and was then moved to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1975 where it remains today.

 

 

The attraction consists of both nostalgia and futurism, and the attraction’s theme is how we have progressed through time with the help of electricity and other technological advances during the 20th century as a “typical” American family. To keep up with the times, the attraction has been updated five times (1967,1975,1981,1985, and 1994) and there have been two different theme songs, both written by the Sherman Brothers. The original song was “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”. This was the musical score for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, as well as the score when it was moved to Disneyland.

Because of the changing times, a new theme song, written by the Sherman Brothers, was created for the Florida show. GE asked the Shermans to write a new song, because they did not want their customers to wait for a “great big beautiful tomorrow;” GE wanted them to buy appliances today, so a song titled “Now is the Time,” also known as “The Best Time Of Your Life” was created. Although the song was still very peppy and positive, the Shermans still felt that “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” was a better fit. In 1996, as a special tribute to the dreams of Walt Disney, the Carousel of Progress was “updated” to its original show, featuring the original theme song, “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”.

 

 Walt Disney and the Sherman Brothers pitching idea to the GE executives

 

 

 

The basic plot of the Carousel of Progress show has essentially remained unchanged since it debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The circular center stage is divided into six equal scenes, surrounded by six 240-seat audience sections which revolve from one to the next. The first and last scenes involve the loading and unloading of guests. The middle four scenes depict an Audio-Animatronic family appreciating the technological advances of succeeding eras of the 20th century. Each of the four scenes is set around a holiday associated with one of the four seasons of the year. The progression of the seasons serves as a metaphor for the progress of the development of the modern age of electricity.

In order to keep up with the changes in life, the attraction is updated every few years to showcase life’s new technology. The finale was changed to “Christmas in the Home of the 1970s,” and the dog also changed breed.

Original Final Scene

In 1981, the finale was updated to showcase “Christmas in the Home of the 1980s.” A new script was written for this scene change, but the rest of the show remained the same. The attraction closed briefly so that the changes could be implemented.

Current Final Theme from 1994 update

In 1994 the final scene was updated to “Christmas in the House of 2000” (as envisioned in 1994), and a new cast was hired for the narration recordings. This has been the last major update.

 

Because of a decrease in attendance following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress closed in October 2001. It was reopened soon afterwards on a seasonal basis, causing fans to become concerned for the attraction’s future. Although numerous “permanent closure” rumors still plague the attraction, Disney has consistently said that there are no plans for permanent closure or any closure at all. For various reasons, the attraction has had some minor refurbishments in recent years. Though it’s still listed as a seasonal attraction, it has remained open nearly every day of the year and during the Magic Kingdom’s regular park hours since 2003.

We hope that Disney continues to update this attraction every few decades or so. Not only is it a part of Disney history but it shows how life has changed over the years and could spark our imagination to where we are going in the future, which means ” There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”.

 

 

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