Carousel of Progress


Carousel of Progress

Infobox Disney ride
name=Carousel of Progress


caption=
park=
land=
designer=WED Enterprises
manufacturer=
type=Rotating theater with Audio-Animatronics
theme=Progress
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host= Jean Shepherd
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The Carousel of Progress is an attraction located in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort, currently operating under the name, Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. 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, the attraction was moved to Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, remaining there from 1967 until 1973. It was replaced in Disneyland by America Sings in 1974, and reopened in its present home in Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom in 1975.

Steeped in nostalgia and futurism, the attraction's premise is an exploration of the joys of living through the advent of electricity and other technological advances during the 20th century via a "typical" American family. To keep it up with the times, the attraction has been updated six times (in 1964, 1967, 1975, 1981, 1985, and 1994) and has had two different theme songs, both written by the Sherman Brothers (Disney's Academy Award-winning songwriting team).

Various sources say Walt Disney himself proclaimed that the Carousel of Progress was his favorite attraction and that it should never cease operation. This can be somewhat supported by Imagineers, 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.

The Carousel of Progress currently holds a record as the longest-running stage show, with the most performances, in the history of American theater.

The show

The basic plot of the Carousel of Progress show has essentially remained unchanged since it debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair. It is divided into six scenes, with the audience seats rotating between each scene around the stage mechanically within the outer part of the theater building.

The first and the last scenes are basically identical and involve the loading and unloading of guests. The other 4 scenes, or "acts", depict an Audio-Animatronic family, narrated by the father, interacting with the latest technology and innovations during a particular era. Not much is known about the family: we do not know their last name, where they live (aside from being somewhere in the United States), or if they ever change location. The family does not (nor are they meant to) age 100 years. They age 3-5 years as the show progresses, to demonstrate how slightly older individuals can better enjoy new technology. Also, each of the four scenes is set during a different season of the year, just for variety.

The first act takes place during Valentine's Day around the 1900s and features the family using the new 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 radio, a sewing machine, and a homemade cooling device during the 4th of July in the 1920s (the Charles Lindbergh reference makes the most likely year 1927 [cite web
url = http://www.wdwhistory.com/MagicKingdom/Tomorrowland/CarouselofProgress/
title = Carousel of Progress
work = WDWHistory.com
accessmonthday = August 13
accessyear = 2006
] ). The third act, set around Halloween in the 1940s, has the family interacting with technologies such as an automatic dishwasher, television, and a homemade paint mixing system.

The final scene is set around Christmas and depicts the family interacting with the technology of the present day. As such, it is the act that has received the most changes since the show debuted in 1964. While the original final act featured the family's home in the 1960s, the current finale, which was introduced in 1994, shows the home in the 2000s with high-definition television, virtual reality games, voice activated appliances, and other recent innovations. [cite web
url = http://www.wdwmagic.com/carousel.htm
title = Carousel of Progress
work = WDW Magic.com
accessmonthday = July 18
accessyear = 2007
]

History

The Edison Square concept

In the late 1950s, after Disneyland Park's initial success, Walt Disney planned to expand the Main Street, U.S.A. area with two districts: "International Street" and "Edison Square". In Edison Square, guests would be treated to a show hosted by an "electro-mechanical" man named "Wilbur K. Watt". The show would chronicle the evolution of electricity in the home, from the late 1800s to the present and beyond - showing how much electrical appliances, specifically GE appliances, have benefited American life. After each time period, or "act", was over, the audience would get up and walk to the next one.

Unfortunately, the Main Street expansion idea fell by the wayside. One of the reasons for this was that the technology necessary to put on the show just was not up to par with what Walt Disney wanted. The idea, however, stayed in Walt's mind for the next few years. GE still wanted to work with Walt, but a better outlet was needed.

The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair

Infobox Disney ride
name= Progressland


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park=1964-1965 New York World's Fair
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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 it to life. Reaching back to Edison Square, Walt Disney again pitched the idea of an electrical progress show to General Electric executives and they loved it.

During the planning phase, Disney's Imagineers perfected the Audio-Animatronics technology necessary to operate the "performers" in the show. They were not the most advanced, but it was enough to get the show running. The technology used in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and another attraction designed by Disney at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, made the Carousel of Progress possible. Besides the AAs, the Imagineers (led by Disney Legends Roger E. Broggie and Bob Gurr) also devised a "carousel theater", so that the audience rode around a stationary set of stages instead of walking from stage to stage.

Singing cowboy Rex Allencite book | last =Imagineers | first =The | authorlink =Walt Disney Imagineering | title =The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World | publisher =Disney Editions | date =2005-09-01 | pages =121 | id = ISBN 0-7868-5553-3 ] was tapped to voice Father, the host and narrator of the show that replaced the "Wilbur K. Watt" character. Allen later commented that he did not know exactly what he was getting into.

Walt Disney asked Disney songwriters Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman to create a song that could serve as a bridge between the "acts" in the show. Walt explained to the brothers what the show was about, and they wrote a song with his enthusiasm in mind. The song was titled "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow". The Shermans later stated that they believe that the song was Walt's "theme song," because he was so optimistic and excited about the future and technology itself.

The show opened at the Fair as Progressland. It was one of the most-visited pavilions at the Fair. One of the unique features that made the attraction so popular was that a circle of six theaters (all connected by divider walls) revolved clockwise around six fixed stages every four minutes. There were identical load and unload theaters with the dazzling wall of light, the "Kaleidophonic Screen", and the "performers" appeared in the 1890s, 1920s, 1940s, and 1960s - literally a "Carousel of Progress"! Though more than 200 people entered and exited the attraction every four minutes, it was not uncommon to wait over an hour in line. For the 1965 season of the Fair, a massive covered queue was constructed next to the General Electric Pavilion on an empty lot to protect visitors from New York's hot summer sun.

At the end of the Carousel show, fairgoers were invited to journey up to the second floor of the pavilion and see the General Electric Skydome Spectacular. The Skydome Spectacular projected images of nature and energy into the domed roof of the GE pavilion, similar to a planetarium. The show demonstrated the many ways that GE was harnessing electricity and the power of the sun for the benefit of its customers.

Disneyland

Infobox Disney ride
name=Carousel of Progress


caption=
park=Disneyland
land=Tomorrowland
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opened=July 2, 1967
closed=September 9, 1973
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The Carousel of Progress opened at Disneyland Park on July 2, 1967, as part of the New Tomorrowland. Due to the success of the attractions Disney created for the Fair, General Electric agreed to sponsor the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland. However, the Carousel of Progress was to be a permanent fixture at Disneyland, and it is unknown how many years General Electric would have sponsored the ride had it stayed there (presumably, 10-12 years, as many other sponsors throughout Disneyland Park have historically done).

The actual attraction was located on ground level, and a new (nearly identical) theater system was constructed. The sets and "performers" all came right from the Fair itself and remained nearly original. There were some slight changes: a new voice was recorded for Mother, "Christmas in the Home of the 1960s" was slightly updated in set design and technology, all references to General Electric's passé "Medallion Home" campaign were dropped, and Father from the "The Home of the 1940s" now sat on a (previously unoccupied) bar stool, rather than on the kitchen nook bench.

After the show, guests boarded a speedramp that would take them to the second level of the building. On the upper level, a 4-minute post show, narrated by Mother and Father, coincided with guests gazing at an enormous model of Progress City. Progress City was based on Walt Disney's original concept for EPCOT and the Walt Disney World property.

As the 1970s rolled in, the Carousel of Progress saw dwindling audiences. GE thought they were not getting the most for their advertising dollars, surmising that 80% of the people that saw the attraction were Californians, and had seen the attraction many times. GE asked Disney to move the show to their new Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The Disneyland show closed on September 9, 1973 and was packed up for Florida.

The empty carousel theater in Tomorrowland was filled with a new show in 1974 called America Sings, a salute to American music. That show closed in 1988, not to be replaced for ten years. The Disneyland version of Epcot's popular Innoventions exhibit opened with the New New Tomorrowland in 1998, using "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" as its theme song.

The Magic Kingdom

Infobox Disney ride
name=Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress


caption=
park=Magic Kingdom
land=Tomorrowland
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sponsor=General Electric (July 15, 1975 - March 10, 1985)
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The attraction opened on January 15, 1975. General Electric signed a 10-year contract to sponsor the attraction at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Unlike the small changes that had occurred when the Carousel of Progress moved from the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair to Disneyland Park, extensive changes were made when the attraction moved to Walt Disney World.

A new carousel theater building was designed to house the attraction: a one-story pavilion, with a loft above. The loft was created so that the WEDway PeopleMover (now the Tomorrowland Transit Authority) could pass above it. The interior and exterior of the building received new color schemes with blue and white stripes that grew smaller and larger as the building turned. Also, the theaters now rotated counterclockwise, rather than clockwise, like the two former theater systems.

The load and unload theaters no longer featured the stunning "Kaleidophonic Screens" that had dazzled guests as they boarded and exited their respective theater. The old screens had stretched from one wall to the other, with the giant GE logo in the center. They lit up in various colors and patterns like a kaleidoscope as the orchestral version of "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" played. Various problems plagued the screens after 1973, so silver curtains with the GE logo in the center took their place in both the load and unload theaters with different colored lights shining on them.

The Florida version was planned with no post-show. Guests would load and unload on the first floor. The Progress City/EPCOT model was significantly sized down so it could fit in a window display that could be seen from the WEDway PeopleMover.

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.

A new cast of voices and "performers" were showcased in the 1975 version, including actor Andrew Duggan as Father. The first three "acts" had some cosmetic and set design changes. The finale was changed to "Christmas in the Home of the 1970s," and the dog also changed breed.

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.

On March 10, 1985, General Electric's contract expired, and they chose not to renew. The attraction closed shortly thereafter so that all General Electric references could be excluded from the attraction. The GE logo was replaced with a logo that showed a blueprint of the six carousel theaters surrounding the six fixed stages on the signs outside of the attraction and the silver GE curtain was kept but a round sign with the blueprint logo and the name Carousel of Progress hid the GE logo.

In 1993 the attraction closed for refurbishment, to better reflect the theme of the New Tomorrowland: "The Future that Never Was." Gears and other mechanical symbols were being prominently featured in the other pavilions in the New Tomorrowland, so the Carousel of Progress was redesigned to feature them. The attraction and show were re-named "Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress." A giant cog sign in the load and unload theaters that says Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress replaced the blueprint sign. The finale was updated to "Christmas in the House of 2000" (as envisioned in 1994). A new cast was hired for the narration recordings, with American writer, raconteur, and radio personality Jean Shepherd as the voice of the father. For the first time, names of some of the characters in the attraction were revealed. A 4-minute pre-show about the creation of the attraction was played on monitors while guests waited in line. A contemporary version of "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" returned as the attraction's theme song. The attraction reopened in 1994, as the New Tomorrowland was unveiled in phases. Since then, the attraction has undergone slight mechanical and cosmetic changes.

Due to the September 11, 2001 attacks (along with dropping attendance figures), Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress closed in October 2001. It was reopened soon afterwards on a seasonal basis. Concern over the attraction's closure became evident during this time. 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. It has remained open nearly every day of the year and during the Magic Kingdom's regular park hours since 2003.

The Sherman Brothers write in their joint autobiography regarding the history of the pavilion:

Cast (current 1994 version)

Precursors

The show did not spring into being as from a blank slate. It is an elaboration and trivialization of some industrial films that American appliance manufacturers funded, to demonstrate how their products would change the pattern of domestic chores and improve life. The desire to sell during the Great Depression and the rural electrification projects of the New Deal were two of the motivating forces behind these films.

Also, there are the remnants of an exhibition from the 1933 Century of Progress exposition in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry that feature four typical rooms of Chicago houses in various decades prior to the exhibition.

Attraction facts

Disneyland

* Grand opening: July 2, 1967
* Closure date: September 9, 1973
* Designer: WED Enterprises
* Sponsor: General Electric
* Future attractions:
** America Sings (1974-1988)
** Innoventions (1998-Present)
* Audio-Animatronics: 32
* Show length: 20:45
* Required ticket: Free
* Ride system: Rotating theater with Audio-Animatronics

Magic Kingdom

* Grand opening: January 15, 1975
* Finale Updated and General Electric references dropped: 1985
* Major renovation, "Great, Big Beautiful Tomorrow" added back: 1994
* Designer: WED Enterprises
* Sponsor: General Electric (Opening-March 10, 1985)
* Audio-Animatronics: 32
* Seating: 226
* Show length: 20:45
* Ride system: Rotating theater with Audio-Animatronics
* Known Hidden Mickeys: Final scene: Mickey nutcracker; mickey salt/pepper shakers; plush Mickey under the Christmas tree, Mickey from Fantasia (this one is very hard to see; as it is made up of colored lines.)

pin-offs and related attractions

From October 1, 1983, until January 9, 1999, an attraction known as Horizons existed at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. It was more or less a sequel to the Carousel of Progress, depicting the host family living and working in techologically-enhanced environments in the near future. It was also presented by General Electric (1983-1994). In that attraction, there was a scene where a robot was "working" in the kitchen, making quite a mess, among other things. In the background, the song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" could be heard.

Also in 1983, Meet the World, at Tokyo Disneyland, was an attraction that was housed in a rotating theater. It featured both audio-animatronics and video, looking at thousands of years of Japanese history. It closed in 2002.

Innoventions (1998-present), the current occupant of the building formerly used for the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland, depicts a few images from the older attraction on its colorful exterior murals, and the Innoventions character Tom Morrow sings an updated version of "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow". Banners hung from the building depict the Carousel of Progress and other past attractions, along with their inception dates.Inside, the ASIMO show features a stage set reminiscent of the "contemporary" scene in the Carousel of Progress, including a view of the Community of Tomorrow through the picture window. The ASIMO exit music is the original Rex Allen recording from the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland.

oundtrack

The entire soundtrack for the Disneyland version (1967 - 1973) can be heard on "A Musical History of Disneyland" (2005).

The theme song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" can be found on a few official theme park albums over the years, including:
* "" (1999) (Magic Kingdom 1994 version)
* " (2000) (Magic Kingdom 1994 version)

References

External links

* [http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/attractionDetail?id=WaltDisneysCarouselofProgressAttractionPage&bhcp=1 Attraction Profile at the Official Page for Walt Disney World]
* [http://www.carouselofprogress.com/ Fanpage dedicated to the complete history of the Show - CarouselofProgress.com]
* [http://www.yesterland.com/progress.html Yesterland profile for Disneyland's Carousel of Progress]
* [http://allearsnet.com/tp/mk/mk_cop.htm AllEarsNet profile for Carousel of Progress]
* [http://www.wdwmagic.com/carousel.htm WDWMagic profile for Carousel of Progress]
* [http://www.waltdatedworld.bravepages.com/id215.htm Carousel of Progress: The Best Time of Your Life]
* [http://www.mouseplanet.com/guide.php?pg=BCG103 MousePlanet profile for Carousel of Progress]
* [http://www.laughingplace.com/Info-Att-A-MK-TOM-CAROUSEL.asp LaughingPlace profile for Carousel of Progress]
* [http://nywf64.com/genele01.shtml nywf64.com (1964/1965 New York World's Fair Website) Story of the General Electric Pavilion and the Carousel of Progress]


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