On this episode of the Obscure Disney Podcast, we discuss Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress as it was on opening day and as it became America Sings and later Innoventions in Tomorrowland at Disneyland.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a rotating theater attraction located at the Magic Kingdom park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida just outside of Orlando, Florida. Created by both Walt Disney and WED Enterprises as the prime feature of the General Electric (GE) Pavilion for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the attraction was moved to Tomorrowland at Disneyland in Anaheim, California as Carousel of Progress, remaining there from 1967 until 1973. It was replaced in Disneyland by America Sings in 1974, and reopened in its present home in the Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom in 1975.
Steeped in both nostalgia and (in the past) 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 five times (in 1967, 1975, 1981, 1985, and 1993) 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 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 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 in the whole Walt Disney World Resort. It is also one of the only attractions at Walt Disney World to have been touched by Walt Disney himself.