Monday, July 28, 2008

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

The kids might think this attraction is boring and slow, but to me it's pure Disney Magic. Knowing the history behind this attraction undoubtedly slants my opinion. I’ve seen videos of this attraction, and I have some short low resolution videos for you today, but you gotta see it in person. The stage is much small than I envisioned, definitely smaller than America Sings.

This was a free attraction at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, from what I can tell there was never a ticket charge to see this show. If anyone has info, please let me know.

The main building has changed very little, basically just the sign and the upper level railings have been replaced. And of course the color has changed.

I had to push a few strollers out of the way to get this shot.

Inside the theater, the show is about to begin. No flash photo’s, so you get this blurry shot of the curtains.

I recorded the first line from the song in each of the 4 time periods. There are plenty of full versions on YouTube if you want to see the whole show. These just give you a glimpse of the show and the great mega catchy tune!

(The first time the theater seats started to rotate I was instantly transported back to my youth and "American Sings", boy do I miss that show.)

On with the show, by the way, “There's a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day!”

You’ll be singing that tune all day! It beats singing “It’s a small world”…

More great architecture, the paint job is ok and actually works as far as blending in to the area.

This was taken from the moving PeopleMover on the upper level of the Carousel of Progress. It looks like an older sign, I like it.

It’s amazing that Walt’s 1964 World’s fair ideas just keep on giving! There is a great posting over at Yesterland about the Carousel of Progress (link) be sure to check it out.

Between the Carousel of Progress and the WEDWay PeopleMover, its almost like visiting Disneyland in a time machine. Almost...


Greg Maletic said...

Three comments. You said:

"The stage is much small than I envisioned, definitely smaller than America Sings."

This had never occurred to be before...but can it be true? That would seem to imply that the diameter of the rotating section in the WDW building is smaller than the than the same in the Disneyland building. I'd never heard that asserted that what you think?

Second, I do like that the show is still running, but I think it's a little problematic calling it "Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress" yet having such dramatic script changes in the show. The show is peppered with all sorts of new qualifiers like "you know, technology can't solve all of our problems..." Nothing like that was said in the original show, and I guess that's fine...but that's not "Walt Disney's" Carousel of Progress. (Plus the final scene is an absolute nightmare in this edition. The original "future" scene in the Disneyland show is bad, too, but at least it would have the virtue of being authentic. The furniture is better in that old version, too.) If they're presenting CoP as a kind of museum exhibit--and they are--they should have made it more accurate to the original.

Finally, the Carousel of Progress sign you noted on the PeopleMover level has been there for decades. It used to be on a blue background and have the GE logo next to it. (The old script one, not the current one.) The PeopleMover spiel used to have Jack Wagner talk about "four warm and wonderful families inviting you into their homes," but no longer. Now, it's just silence, I suppose to not get people too worked up a few years ago when the Carousel was rarely running.

Glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

ericpaddon said...

I grew up with the "Now Is The Time" version of COP that ran at WDW from 75-93 and it was a much better show than the current version, IMO, chiefly because it was, to build on Greg's point still in keeping with the forward vision of the show albeit more cautiously than in the DL era (the 70s being a time where the public was a lot more cynical about too bold predictions of the future which is why I don't think the "Progressland" post-show would have gone over in WDW even if the theater had been built to accomodate it). OTOH, the current version treats the story of "Progress" as a giant exercise in self-indulgent nostalgia laced with 90s doses of political correctness (especially in the way you have Jean Shepherd's father coming off as a doofus. His asides about "Lindbergh will never make it" have no place in this kind of show).

I am glad the show is still running, but I wish it could get a new overhaul that would bring it back closer to the spirit of the original.

Incidentally, there is just one piece of soundtrack in the show that still endures from the original World's Fair and Disneyland version, and that's Mel Blanc's two contributions as the parrot in Act I and Cousin Orville in Act II.

Greg Maletic said...

>>I don't think the "Progressland" post-show would have gone over in WDW even if the theater had been built to accomodate it.

I think the Progressland finale would have been fine and well-accepted, for at least three reasons:

1) The fact that the Progressland model ended up above Mission to Mars on the PeopleMover ridethrough indicates at least some desire to show it to the public, and I've never heard any negative thoughts expressed about that "dream of tomorrow" message being shown there.

2) Space Mountain's Home of Future Living finale expressed very nearly the same concepts as were discussed in the original CoP finale.

3) the Progressland model was, in a way, intended to be a model of Epcot, which was going to be built just a few miles away; it would only be natural to want to seed that concept with WDW guests ahead of time. (What was eventually called "Epcot" looked nothing like Progressland, but in 1974-5, they didn't know that would be the case.)

Finally, Eric, you're right in that the "Now Is The Time" edition of the show was stronger than what we see today.

Disneyana World said...

When I was at MK last September, the Carousel sign was sitting pretty when I entered the attraction.

When I came off, the sign was covered up by a Buzz Lightyear one. I was a little upset by covering up a classic attraction with a meet and greet sign.

On the bright side, this attraction always gets me when I see it. I feel like it's the closest to Walt Disney I'll ever be.

The Viewliner Limited said...

Great shots of WDW Tim. Looks like you had a great time. Note: nothing will ever beat the original COP at Disneyland. It will always be an DL ICON forever.

outsidetheberm said...

It would be nice to see the optimism for the future return to the attraction - as Walt presented it.

It's funny how the debate for the two songs continues. It seems that whatever you grew up with is the song you cling to. That would have to be the original 'Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow' for us.

Finally, the greatest thrill to a child seeing this attraction in 1967 was the actual ability to 'join the show' by climbing UP ON STAGE in the final act, and riding the escalator to view the amazing Progressland/ Epcot model! No other attraction had ever made such an eye popping impact.

Anonymous said...

Outsidetheberm speaks the truth.

The original ending of the DL version of CoP was great. I always loved seeing it as a kid.

We have got to get away from this “it’s too slow for the kids” attitude. I’ve been to Disneyland many times since the late 50s and the things that made me want to go back were the heavily themed areas and attractions. Pirates, Mansion, Peter Pan, Toad, Adventure Thru Inner Space, and Carousel of Progress. I liked the Matterhorn and Space Mountain but I wasn’t at DL for thrill. I was there for the show and that’s the reason I still go. Believe me, now that I don’t ride coasters anymore I really appreciate areas like Main Street. Knott’s may have more coasters, but I don’t go there. Long term, themeing will always win.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Thanks for all the great comments everyone, I am thrilled this attraction is still so well remembered and draws some attention from the Disney fans.

Greg; It did seem like maybe the entire building was slightly smaller than Disneyland’s. But more to my point, the stage show portion is closer to the audience than America Sings. America Sings had multiple layers of depth on stage, with the furthest going at least twice as far back as the “back wall” in C.O.P. The Carrousel show appears to have far less “stage space”, I was not expecting to be so close to the action.

The “Future” scene is laughable. My 13 year old son just assumed it was another “vintage” time period, which I guess it almost is! And I did notice the PC script changes, as I did in the Hall of Presidents. I would prefer it to me more accurate to the original also.

I knew that sign had to be old! And it was eerily quiet on the people mover; all you could hear was the “clack-clack” of the wheels.

Eric, I concur and so does Greg!

Viewliner, thanks as always! I wish I had seen this show at Disneyland, but I was 8 when they took it out and was still traumatized from Mr. Lincoln!

Outside the berm; I was surprised and happy the debate goes on. And boy would that have been cool to go UP ON STAGE after the show, and a Speed Ramp too!!!

Bennyarcade; I hear you with the “too slow for the kids” attitude, but you should have seen the theater, the kids where not interested at all. My son was interested only because of my enthusiasm. However, he did enjoy it and commented that the on stage “Dad” had a resemblance to a younger Walt Disney, which he kind of does.

ericpaddon said...

At the risk of just a little bit of self-promotion (since I contributed one of the essays to it), this feature on the Carousel's origins at the World's Fair is well worth a read.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Hey Eric, that's an awesome website, I never knew some of those details about the original C.O.P.! Thanks, and self-promotion is welcome here anytime :-)

ericpaddon said...

Your welcome, and much appreciated! :)