“Man has a dream, and that’s the start – he follows his dream with mind and heart…”
Happy Birthday, Walt Disney!!!
In continuing this week’s theme of spotlighting Walt Disney-related places and things, I wanted to shine a spotlight on a less-popular, but pleasingly nostalgic attraction that is still to this day filled with so much “Walt-ness”.
What is Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?
Created by Walt Disney for the 1964 World’s Fair (like the one dramatized in the film Tomorrowland), this audio-animatronic show uses a rotating theater so the audience can travel across the 20th century with one family – and their dog! – to see how American life progressed in that time.
You get to experience four scenes set in four different eras – the turn of the 20th century, the 1920’s, the 1940’s and a sort of 80’s-meets-the-kind-of-present. Due to the final scene’s half-hearted refurbishments over the years, it falls rather flat emotionally compared to the charm of the rest of the show. It’s a shame it hasn’t been returned to a 1960’s view of the future that it originally would have contained as I think that would be more effective and satisfying than the current sequence/theming.
Who are the performers?
This one is strictly an audio-animatronics show, filled with a “family” of figures, who take you across the century to chart our technological progress.
When and where can I find it?
At Disneyland Park, the Carousel of Progress was replaced by the equally appealing moving theater show America Sings in the 1970’s. After that show closed, the formerly rotating venue simply housed various displays including its current static incarnation as the Tomorrowland Expo Center featuring the Star Wars Launch Bay and Super Hero HQ.
However, this attraction is still making the rounds daily in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland at the Walt Disney World Resort. Stop by and check it out!
Why spotlight it?
Okay, yes, it’s hokey by today’s standards of storytelling. Although I’d argue that is mostly due to the poorly renovated final scene – which could be fixed! But like the Enchanted Tiki Room, for me this is one of the most truly *Walt* places anywhere in the world (or World).
From his optimism and philosophy and futurism to the endearing and enduring notion of family enjoying entertainment and a quality of life together, very few attractions connect me to their creator as this one does. So no matter how dated the Carousel of Progress seems, I would never ever want it to be replaced, lest we continue to lose our connection to the original vision of the man behind the Mouse who started it all.
Plus, the classic Sherman Brothers’ tune for this show, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, is not only the epitome of their faith in the future, but of Walt Disney’s as well. And 50 years later, the message still resonates and the song will absolutely get stuck in your head afterward!
So no, this attraction is not just another place to get out of the rain or the heat for a while – though granted, it’s good for those times too! This is a true touch of *Walt Disney* in the Walt Disney World Resort. And for me, it’s also a nostalgic reminder of a show I loved very dearly and still miss all these years later – America Sings. Go watch it with some Walt-colored glasses and see if it doesn’t give you an appreciation for the past and at least a twinge of hope for the future and that great big beautiful tomorrow that Walt and The Boys saw shining at the end of every day…
Have you visited the Carousel of Progress? Do you still enjoy it for its nostalgia factor?