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Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – History, Legacy, Details and Future


Hello and welcome to The WDW Radio Show – Your Walt Disney World Information Station. I am your host, Lou Mongello, and this is show #244 for the week of October 16, 2011.

As we continue to look back at Walt Disney World’s history in honor of its 40th anniversary, I want to take a close look at an attraction which may not have been part of the Magic Kingdom’s opening day, but is deeply rooted in its history and sense of nostalgia. While there may always be a great, big beautiful tomorrow, now is the time – now is the best time to explore the history, legacy, details and future of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Jim Korkis joins me on a segment that is part Wayback Machine, part DSI: Disney Scene Investigation, and we’ll leave you with some thought-provoking questions that I encourage you to share your thoughts on.

I’ll give you more details about this year’s annual WDW Radio Epcot Food and Wine Festival Walkabout, taking place next weekend, before sharing a few announcements and playing more of your voicemails at the end of the show. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode of the WDW Radio show.

Thanks for listening! Be sure to tune in next week!


Information and Links from This Week’s Show:

Question for YOU: What do YOU think should happen next (if anything) to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?

Purchase The Vault of Walt by Jim Korkis on Amazon.com

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Listen to the Episode Below (01:28:20)
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23 Responses to "Show # 244 – October 16, 2011"

  1. Mrrizzoratt says:

    Especially with this being the 40th Anniversary, I like Jim’s idea about returning it to the original version. After the Tiki Birds I think it would be a great idea to have a “Walt Disney’s” attraction in all of the lands in celebration of WDW’s 40th..

  2. Craig says:

    I think and hope that Disney will leave the Carousel of Progress for the most part as it is. People often say they should change up the final scene, but I would like to see it stay as well. I think it is important to have those attractions that Walt touched remain in the park for future generations. I know I am looking forward to what is new, but also hope that I can someday take my grandkids on the Carousel of Progress and say that this is one of those things that Walt had a personal touch on.

    For me, this is also one of those things that I try to see as often as I can. I live close by now, so I dont see it every time that I am in the park, but I try to see it at least once or twice a month. It is actually something that I will go and ride if I am in the need for some inspiration for a project that I am working on, whether personal or a project at work. It’s just one of those things that really lifts me up when I need it.

  3. Erica says:

    I agree with Jim’s fourth option: restoring the final scene to the original version. I’ve always wanted to see that scene, and I agree that any option that tries to make the last scene futuristic would have a constant struggle with being out-of-date. The recent reimagining of the Tiki Room gives me hope that it could happen for Carousel of Progress too. If only there were a small electrical fire, maybe from the 30% brighter Christmas tree lights. :-)

  4. Jen Tremley says:

    I think NOTHING should happen to the Carousel of Progress. I believe if they wanted to update the last scene a little, maybe, but other than that I think we should preserve such a classic attraction the way it is. Its Walt’s vision & idea from the 1964 World’s Fair and something that he so passionately worked on. I think it should be kept as is for future generations to enjoy at the Magic Kingdom. No, its not the most exciting ride or a thrill ride, but its a charming ride that really enforces Walt’s ideas and visions, and I think it should be left alone.

  5. Dawn Torres says:

    I love the nostalgia of the Carousel of Progress as does my 5 year old. I’d love to see the original final scene but I also love it the way it is! The only thing they could do to ruin CofP is to close it. As long as it’s open in some way, I’m happy!

  6. Sam Fritz says:

    I agree with jim with the whole bringing back the 1964 cop also i know with most of us we love retro mech. and i know almost everyone would love retro style carousel of progress stuff and the disney fans would eat it up and so if you make cop merch you have a reason to take the carouselback to the world’sfair show.

  7. JJ Harvill says:

    I think Disney should restore it to its original version. Like they did for Enchanted Tiki Room (except for shortening it). Bring back all the original scenes, including the very last scene at Christmas. I’d love to see Walt’s vision of the future 60’s. Also, Rex Allen’s voice has a charm to it, so I’d also like for that to come back.

  8. Lisa Simons says:

    I’m torn. I like the idea of going back to the original version as a nostalgia attraction, but I also keep thinking about Walt Disney’s dedication to keeping his parks evolving, which brings me back to Jim’s “every 40 years” scenes. I’d take it a step further, and make it every 50 years, making the scenes the turn of the century, 1955 (they could mention that “new theme park” Disneyland and the beginning of America’s love of the automobile, interstate highways, traveling with the family, etc.), 2000-today (surviving Y2K, when we all thought computers would crash and destroy the world) and then 2050, which may be a bit like Horizons, moon colonies, desert farming, seabase alpha, etc. It would take it far enough into the future where they wouldn’t have to update it often, and would allow the Imagineers to run wild with what they think the future would be like.

  9. Jim says:

    So you have to update the final scene every once in awhile, well do it for petes sake.

  10. Valerie says:

    First of all, excellent, excellent podcast, as usual! I could listen to you and Jim Korkis talk Disney all day long!

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jim’s wish for the final scene in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress to revert back to Walt’s vision of the future. It would be a wonderful tribute to Walt Disney; it would make sense in today’s version of Tomorrowland as it showcases what the world once thought tomorrow was supposed to look like; and financially, it’s not that far off base when we look at the newly rehabbed retro-Tiki Room, the revival of Captain EO and the re-introduction of the Main Street Electrical Parade at WDW.

    I have always loved this attraction b/c many of the items in the scenes remind me of objects that I remember from my grandparents’ homes so it’s very nostalgic and sweet. I worry that these stories of our past will be lost through the generations so I encourage my dad to tell my children stories of his childhood. I tell them everything that I remember from my grandparents and we watch lots of old movies and tv shows together too. I want them to appreciate how the world used to live, how much it has changed and possibly inspire them as to how they can improve upon it as well. So enjoying Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress with them is a must do for us and I hope they will continue to enjoy it and share it with their children someday!

    Thank you both for such a wonderful piece – it made my day!

  11. Brian Fleming says:

    I am a pastor of a church in Richmond, VA, and a huge WDW fan.

    I love the COP, and I listen to the show audio every Saturday night as I am going to bed, to provide some inspiration for a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” and “Now is the Time” state of mind as I prepare to preach on Sundays.

    So in a way, I like the status quo of the show, and it still has the heart of family, progress and the spirit of Walt to me. I believe I would only change the final scene by adding “modern” conveniences that we have now in 2011. Keep the same storyline, just change the elements.

    Love the COP, and what a great podcast episode with Korkis. Thanks Lou.

  12. Stephen says:

    Hi…I loved the Carousel of Progress podcast…AWESOME JOB GUYS!!!!

    There is however one question I have regarding Carousel of Progress. It was always my assumption that the setting is midewest or east coast….if that assumption is correct, then why are Robins singing and clothes out on the line and a thunderstorm on Valentine’s day….when in fact, in many parts of the country, February is usually too cold for all of that? The October scene has colorful leaves outside the window indicating the climate is getting colder

    Has anybody ever explained why that is?

  13. CanaDisney says:

    Great episode. We love the CoP, it’s a must-to for us each trip because it’s got Walt’s thumbprint on it. I think Jim nailed it, bring back the original version. WDW needs more ties to Walt’s original vision.

  14. Bjorn says:

    It’s our “comfort” attraction on every visit. It must stay.

  15. Brian Dancer says:

    Much like the TTA, attractions that have no line are always attractive. The Carousel of Progress, however, is a classic, beloved attraction in it’s own right, and I’d gladly stand in line to see it. And yes, I must see this attraction each and every visit, and even each day i spend at the Magic Kingdom.

  16. Ken Kanaka says:

    Stephen,

    In the World’s Fair, Disneyland, and first WDW version of the show, the acts took place during each of the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The 1994 rewrite changed each of the acts to take place during a specific holiday: Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, and Christmas. The issues you pointed out are anachronisms caused by the rewrite, which greatly altered the flavor of the attraction.

  17. Caryn says:

    COP is still a MUST see for me! I enjoyed it as a child and I enjoy it as an adult. My family sing Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow all the time. Love this episode Lou & Jim, thank you!!!!

  18. Stephen says:

    Thanks Ken!!! That explains it….I always thought it a bit odd.

  19. Tricia Furman says:

    Amazing! Jim Korkis & I have the exact same idea! Every time the subject of the Carousel comes up I say the exact same thing. Take it back to what Walt developed for the World’s Fair!! Not only would it be AWESOME it would solve the update issues. So glad Jim adopted my idea, LOL!

  20. Kristi Schmidt says:

    If DIsney restores certain attractions to the original design, then perhaps Disney can market the attraction as a “Walt original” They could have special signage at the attraction and on the maps.
    Really enjoyed the podcast and it really made me feel like I was there. I hummed “Now is the time” all day long.

  21. Curtis Hart says:

    The problem, as Lou mentioned, with updating the last scene is it gets dated a few years out. I think the solution, to give the Imagineers a bit more of a breather before having to update it, is to not see what current technologies are there and use it (i.e. the mentioned iPad) but look at & interview engineers and scientists at what the trend could be in the future.

    Speilberg did this for the movie Minority Report and a lot of those technologies are just now in the experimental stages today.

    Take a note from Bill Gates “House of the Future”, that house was started years ago and even now a lot of those technologies aren’t fully integrated into everyday use.

  22. Carl says:

    i personally love this attraction, when i was there as a younger kid i never knew what was in there. then i read in your book that there was am attraction inside. i went the very next time we went to the parks and i immediately fell in love with it, now i always tell anyone who i meet there to at least try it. its disney, you can get hurt, it will always lead you to somewhere new and exciting

  23. Matt says:

    I remember liking this as a kid but our neighbor had recently been to WDW a month ago or so, and their entire family called it the “Carousel of Doom”. It sounds like it may have been glitching that day but she detailed issues like people leaving in the middle of it, parts of the show starting over, etc.

    has anyone else been there recently with younger kids and found that its appeal is still holding strong amidst all the newer attractions? I want to go but my wife is ready to roll with her neighbor’s advice and pull it off our touring plan…

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