Today, my guest blogger is my hubby, Bill Halloran. He’s blogging at www.billhalloran.wordpress.com Check out his post about Disney’s “Carousel of Progress.” It’s a spot my family always heads to at Magic Kingdom when we need a break from the sun, and a rest. Terrific attraction.
My first visit to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando Florida was soon after I graduated from University. With electronics as my background and being mechanically inclined, WDW was a young engineer’s dream come true, it was fun and it served up a veritable smorgasbord of synaptic stimulation. I was hooked and dreamed of being a Disney Imagineer.
I have returned to WDW on several occasions since then, and it never disappoints.
As someone who has always been interested in the latest technology trends and gadgets, there is one attraction I never seem to tire of, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.
In true Disney form, even the circular theater building which houses Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a ride of sorts. The show is divided into six scenes with the audience seating located in a ring which mechanically revolves within the outer part of the building while each scene is staged in a stationary wedge-shaped space at the core of the building.
Consider the engineering behind this, there are 240 seats that span the width of the stage in several rows. When all those seats are filled, the control required to smoothly accelerate and decelerate all the weight of the audience so that they line up precisely with each wedge-shaped space is impressive.
Originally introduced at the New York City World’s Fair in 1964, the Carousel of Progress was Walt Disney’s idea. He thought it would be fun to watch the American family go through the 20th Century experiencing all the wonders as they came along.
For Scenes 1 and 6 the audience is seated in front of a drawn stage curtain which has a large crest that looks like a mechanical gear and contains the words “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress”. Scene 1 is a recorded narration welcoming the audience to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and provides the background behind the Carousel of Progress show. Scene 6 is another recorded narration thanking the audience for sharing in the experience.
Scenes 2 through 5 are set during a different season of the year, on the day of a holiday that typifies each season. Each scene depicts an Audio-Animatronic family interacting with the latest household gadgets for that era as well as the latest technological advances.
Scene 2 takes place during Valentine’s Day around the beginning of the 20th century where we learn that the latest technological advances for that era include:
- buildings as high as 20 stories;
- moving pictures projected on a screen;
- almost 8000 automobiles in the country;
- train travel from New York to California in less than 7 days; and
- two brothers in North Carolina are working on some kind of flying contraption.
and the family’s latest household gadgets include:
- gas lamps;
- a telephone;
- the latest design in cast iron stoves;
- a new icebox that holds 50 lbs of ice;
- a gramophone;
- an indoor water pump in the kitchen; and
- a hand-cranked washing machine.
Scene 3 takes place on July 4th in the 1920s where we learn that the latest technological advances for that era include:
- Charles Lindburg preparing to fly across the Atlantic;
- Sports stadiums springing up all over;
- Jazz music;
- Al Jolsen staring in a movie in which he talks and sings; and
- train travel from New York to Los Angeles in only 3 days.
and the family’s latest household gadgets include:
- a radio;
- a sewing machine;
- a homemade cooling device; and
- indoor plumbing.
The family feels that considering all the conveniences they now have, they are really on easy street and feel things just can’t get any better.
Scene 4 takes place on Halloween in the 1940s where the family feels that everything is better than ever now and the latest household gadgets include:
- a larger refrigerator;
- an automatic dishwasher;
- a CRT television; and
- a homemade paint mixing system.
Scene 5 takes place at Christmas time during the first decade of the 21st century where the family’s latest household gadgets include:
- virtual reality video games;
- voice activated appliances;
- laser discs; and
- a high-definition flat panel television.
Watching Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a very pleasant way for the entire family to pass 20+ minutes in a comfortable air-conditioned theater away from the crowds. It’s entertaining and educational providing an interesting look back at the evolution of technology and the household gadgets we’ve come to depend on.
In my opinion, the Audio-Animatronics is done so well that you forget that you are watching an animated performance. Whether it be ribbing between brother and sister or husband and wife, the conversation and interaction between all the family members is believable and entertaining.
And following the show, don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing that catchy theme song played between each scene as you venture back outside to use your Fast Pass:
“There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, Shining at the end of every day. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, And tomorrow is just a dream away.”
To get a sense of what the show is like, check out this YouTube video I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKz6qdexetY.
See what I mean about the theme song?