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Carousel of Progress - The History
The Carousel of Progress opened in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in 1975 and there is an interesting story behind the opening and of its history. The ride follows the journey of an American family through the century of technological progress.
Created by Walt Disney himself, it was performed at the New York World’s Fair back in 1964. Walt was approached by General Electric to create a show for their pavilion. Walt was over the moon to be working with a corporate sponsor largely due to the fact that they would be providing the funding. Walt had an idea back in the late 1950’s to put on a show which would be hosted by an “electro-mechanical” man. The show was to chronicle the progress of electricity in the home from the late 19th century to the present day and into the future. Unfortunately, the technology necessary for Walt’s dream had not been developed at that time and his plans had to fall by the wayside. This idea stayed with Walt over the next few years and his dream became a reality with the expertise and financial help of General Electric. When Walt explained his ideas for the show to the GE executives, they thought that they were inspirational and Carousel of Progress was born, although the name used at the fair was Progressland.
Progressland became one of the most visited pavilions. The audiences loved the fact that they stayed seated whilst they rode around the five stationery stages. General Electric were equally impressed, so much so that they continued to sponsor Progressland and helped to move the ride to Disneyland in California when the fair was over. In July 1967 the show opened in Tomorrowland with a new name, the General Electric Carousel of Progress.
By 1973 the attraction was not as popular as it was in the beginning and the management decided to move the show to Walt Disney World in Florida where there would be a whole new audience ready and waiting to appreciate the ingenuity of the attraction. GE continued to sponsor Carousel of Progress and it opened in Magic Kingdom in 1975. The theme music "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" was replaced with "The Best Time of Your Life" but in 1985 GE decided to end their sponsorship. During 1993 it was closed for refurbishment and brought up to date and in 1994 reopened as Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. The restoration included reverting back to the original theme music "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow".
The Carousel of Progress has become the most performed theatre show in America’s history as well as the most seen stage show. Now there’s an achievement if ever I heard one.
Take the time to visit this attraction if you can, it really is a piece of Disney history.
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