In Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, you will find Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. This attraction is considered by many to be one of the best underrated attractions at Disney World. However, the attraction was not originally intended for Walt Disney World.
The Carousel of Progress came about after General Electric asked Walt Disney to create a show for their pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The carousel showcased electrical progress in America. When the attraction opened at the World’s Fair, it’s name was simply Progressland. It was one of the most popular attractions at the World’s Fair. The fact that the theater rotated the audience into the next scene made the carousel very unique. As the theater rotated, the audience would hear the classic Sherman Brothers song “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” Each scene featured the family in a different season and decade of the century. The father would tell the audience what life was like at that time, specifically describing various new inventions and the progress society had made since the time period of the previous scene.
Because The Carousel of Progress was so well received at the 1964 World’s Fair, the decision was made to move the attraction to Disneyland, where it opened in July of 1967. In the early 1970’s, fewer guests began coming to see the attraction. Due to the decline in attendance GE thought their sponsorship money would be better spent showing this attraction at Walt Disney World where the park’s guests would not be mostly locals who had scene the attraction multiple times.
The Carousel of Progress opened in Walt Disney World in 1975. Because General Electric did not want patrons to wait until “tomorrow” to purchase GE products, they had the Sherman Brothers write a new theme song for the attraction. The new song was called “The Best Time Of Your Life” and focused more on now than on tomorrow. In 1981, the ending scene of the show was updated to reflect a Christmas of the 80’s; however, the rest of the show remained unchanged.
GE ended their sponsorship for The Carousel of Progress in 1985 and the majority of the GE logos and references were removed from the show soon after. In 1993, the attraction was refurbished. The final scene was again updated, this time to reflect Christmas of the year 2000. The theme song was reverted to the original “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” which the Sherman Brothers thought to be a more fitting song for the attraction.
The Carousel of Progress is a wonderful attraction designed by Walt Disney himself. Some have even said that Walt considered this to be his favorite attraction. This show also holds the record as the longest running theater show in the history of American theater. If you haven’t experienced the carousel yet, be sure to take in a show next time you are in the Magic Kingdom.