There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
By: Jennifer Romano
On a trip to Disneyland, I took the photo that you see at the beginning of this article. This photo captures several attractions that no longer exist in their original forms, so I thought it would be interesting to explore the history of two of these attractions. First, the circular building housed the Carousel of Progress from 1967 to 1973. This attraction can still be experienced in Walt Disney World in Florida, but when it opened at Disneyland, it was not exactly brand new. Before the Carousel of Progress arrived in Disneyland, it had already been a part of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in New York. This show was part of the General Electric Pavilion during the World’s Fair, and the audio animatronics that are the central focus of the show were new innovations in technology at this point in time. This show is such a classic, and it has a wonderful message about there “being a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.” The Sherman brothers wrote these words in the form of a song to promote the attraction as well as General Electric. After the show played in Disneyland, it was moved to Florida and re-opened in 1975. The Carousel of Progress is still going strong in Walt Disney World as we speak.
After the Carousel of Progress moved to the East Coast, another musical number opened up in its place. America Sings took the place of the Carousel of Progress, and this show was another audio animatronics based show, except the actors were all animals. These animals sang songs that took the audience on a journey through history with the central focus being different types of music. The animal figures still exist today, and they make their home in Disneyland’s Splash Mountain. America Sings closed its doors in 1988, and the building just sat vacant for several years. Finally, in 1998, Innoventions opened in the Carousel of Progress Theater. In the past few years, the Avengers have made their home in Innoventions, and up until recently, you could go inside to visit these heroes as well as see many of Ironman’s inventions. On a recent trip, this location was under refurbishment, and the Avengers were meeting and greeting their fans outside of the building.
When all of the singing animals from America Sings and the family from the Carousel of Progress were doing their shows on the first floor of this structure, what was happening up on the second level? Long ago, the entire model for Progress City was displayed for all to see on the second level of the theater. Progress City was an initial idea for what the city of Epcot may have looked like if it was created to Walt Disney’s original vision. You can still catch a glimpse of a small section of this model when you ride the TTA Peoplemover in the Magic Kingdom in Florida. The model is no longer in tact, and what you can see of it today is just a tiny piece of one of the original concepts for EPCOT the city. If this topic interests you, check out a book called Walt and the Promise of Progress City by Sam Gennawey.
Now, when you examine this photo for more remnants of the Disneyland that was, you can’t help but notice a rocket ship. This ship was called the Moonliner, and it was part of the entrance to the attraction, Rocket to the Moon from 1955 to 1961. This attraction was sponsored by TWA, and eventually became Flight to the Moon in 1967, then Mission to Mars from 1975-1992, and finally Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in 1998. From 1967 to 1998, the rocket was missing; however it returned with the Tomorrowland overhaul in 1998. This rocket is not quite as tall as the Moonliner, but this smaller rocket is a friendly homage to Disneyland’s past. I hope you have enjoyed my journey down memory lane, and the next time you visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World, try to think about the attractions that are no longer present. It is fun to figure out where they were and how the parks have changed over the past sixty years.
Visit our sister site, ProgressJohn.com for quotes from Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.
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Weiss, Werner. “General Electric Carousel of Progress.” Yesterland. N.p., 2007. Web. 25 February 2013.
Weiss, Werner. “ Rocket to the Moon.” Yesterland. N.p., 2010. Web. 25 February 2013.