40th Anniversary of the Carousel of Progress

Carousel of Progress being built in 1974.

Carousel of Progress being built  at WDW in 1974.

Forty years ago this week, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress opened at Magic Kingdom. The attraction was sponsored by General Electric when it first opened.

Inside view of the Carousel of Progress being built in 1974.

Inside view of the Carousel of Progress being built in 1974.

Cool video of Walt Disney explaining the attraction’s features: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs7G_uyIK6o

It has had two songs: “The Best Time of Your Life” and the current song “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”. The attraction shows the family celebrating four holidays – Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas.

Not our favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom!

Not our favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom!

In our family, some of us love the Carousel of Progress attraction, while some of us don’t.  (Note:  It’s an 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.

Catchy song!

Catchy song!

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.

Yup, that last one is tricky for Disney...

Yup, that last one is tricky for Disney…

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.

Turn of the century, around 1904.

Turn of the century, around 1904.

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.

1920s, around 1927.  Electricity comes to middle America.

1920s, around 1927. Electricity comes to middle America.

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.

Late 1940s, after World War 2 ends.  Prosperity for middle class.

Late 1940s, after World War 2 ends. Prosperity for middle class.

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!

21st century, electronic gadgets.

21st century, electronic gadgets.

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.

Our mom loves this ride!!

Our mom loves this ride!!

Video of the whole attraction:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKz6qdexetY

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We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney World in the Disney College Program: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale. It’s filled with advice about the DCP program and how to get the most out of your internship.

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and wrote about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We give advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship at Disney, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.
******************************
We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.
We included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.
Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tale

One thought on “40th Anniversary of the Carousel of Progress

  1. Jack says:

    It’s also worth noting that Mel Blanc has worked with Walt on this – he was the voice of Orville. Yes, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse have worked together on a classic! Who says you can’t work together with the competition?

    Like

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