In our family, some of us love the Carousel of Progress attraction, while some of us don’t. (Note: especially fun ride on super hot days or if it’s raining! Never any wait lines!)
Walt Disney himself proclaimed that the Carousel of Progress was his favorite attraction and that it should never cease operation. This is supported by Disney’s family and friends, who knew of his constant work on the attraction. Of all the attractions he presented at the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, Disney seemed especially devoted to the Carousel of Progress.
After the 1964 New York World’s Fair closed, the COP attraction was moved to Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, remaining there from 1967 until 1973. It reopened in its present home in WDW’s Magic Kingdom in 1975.
The Carousel of Progress holds the record as the longest-running stage show, with the most performances, in the history of American theater. It is one of the oldest attractions at WDW. It is also the only attraction at WDW to have been touched by Walt Disney himself.
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.
Each of the scenes featured a male dog, who barks or growls at the wrong moments, causing the master to firmly scold the foolish dog to behave himself.
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 progress of the seasons serves as a metaphor for the progress of the development of the modern age of electricity.
The first act takes place during Valentine’s Day around the beginning of the 20th century and features the family using innovations for that era including gas lamps, a kitchen pump, a hand-cranked washing machine, and a gramophone. A mention of the St. Louis World’s Fair dates the scene to 1904.
The second act features devices such as electric lighting and cookware, radio, a sewing machine, and an ice box during the 4th of July holiday in the 1920s. The Charles Lindbergh reference makes the most likely year 1927.
The third act, set around Halloween in the late-1940s after the war, features an automatic dishwasher, television, and a homemade paint mixing system made from the mother’s kitchen mixer!
The final scene is set around Christmas and depicts the family interacting with recent technology. As such, it has changed since the show debuted in 1964. To keep it up with the times, the attraction has been updated five times: in 1967, 1975, 1981, 1985, and 1993.
While originally featuring the family’s home in the 1960s, it currently features high-definition television, virtual reality games, voice activated appliances, and other recent innovations. A slight refurbishment was made in January 2011, upgrading the outdated Sony CRT television to a larger Samsung flat panel display.
Video of the whole attraction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKz6qdexetY
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