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A Great Big Beautiful Collection of Details

A photo of the final scene of Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress which takes place at Christmastime at some undefined point in the future

By: Kendall Foreman

No privacy at all around this place.

Fella says we’ve got something now called the ‘rat race.’

Yes, John… you’re a genius.

Fans of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress show their devotion not only by quoting its most memorable lines, but also in their knowledge of its visual elements. Whether it is that somewhat creepy jack-o-lantern in the 1940s scene or the presence of a disappearing daughter from the turn-of-the-century scene, details both small and large do not go unnoticed.

In fact, knowledge of one such detail is a point of pride for many armchair Disney historians. In the final scene, which is set at an undefined point in the future, there is a note tacked on the bulletin board that states, “Marty called. Wants changes.” This is, of course, in reference to Disney Legend, Marty Sklar, who began working for the Disney company in 1955 and became an Imagineer in 1961. It was then that he joined the team tasked with developing the shows for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, one of which was Carousel of Progress. He eventually rose to the ranks of president and vice chairman of Imagineering, but he always had a hand in any of the updates to this classic attraction. It is only fitting that he be honored in such a detail.

A photo of the workspace in the final scene of Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress including the bulletin board featuring a note that says, "Marty called. Wants changes."

The reference to Mr. Sklar is a fun catch, but after the most recent update, it is by no means the only reference to be found in the Christmas-themed scene of the show. In summer 2022, the audio-animatronics family including John, Sarah, Patricia, Jimmy, Grandma, and Grandpa received makeovers that include several Easter eggs.

Progress City

Sitting right next to the Christmas tree, Patricia can be found sporting a hoodie from “Progress Tech School of Urban Planning.” This is a nod to the Progress City model that can currently be seen while riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Going a bit deeper, this model was a physical representation of the planned community Walt Disney hoped to one day build. It was originally a part of the 1967-1973 version of the attraction when it was located at Disneyland. At that point in time, it was much larger, covering 6,900 square feet! It could be seen through the window behind the family in the finale scene, but it was also able to be viewed by guests in its entirety in a post-show area.

Classic Christmas Slippers

Both Patricia and Jimmy have on matching red and green Christmas slippers featuring a pair of goofy-looking reindeer. These little guys with their tongues hanging out are a callback to the reindeer that used to dance out in front of Santa’s sleigh during the Christmas parades at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. These silly fellows have since been replaced by ones with somewhat more realistic, albeit animated-looking faces, but it is good to see the others are still thought of fondly.

An Important Flight

A photo of the audio-animatronic figure named Sarah.  She is at her desk, using her laptop.  In the background is a whiteboard with the words "Grandpa and Grandma. Flight #1964. Arrives [spp-timestamp time=

To be fair, this detail was present before the redesign, but it is still worth noting. On the whiteboard next to Sarah, there is a note written about Grandpa and Grandma’s flight. It says that their flight number was #1964. This is in reference to the year 1964 when Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress debuted at the 1964-65 World’s Fair as the feature attraction for General Electric’s Progressland pavilion. The notice board also lists the flight’s arrival time, [10:01], which is of course the date Walt Disney World opened (October 1).

These are fairly obvious pieces of history, but this little memo can be taken one step further. Before the fair, in a bit of a public relations hype, Walt Disney actually took Grandma on a flight to New York. He pushed the audio-animatronic figure in a wheelchair through the airport where she boarded a plane with her own ticket. Yes, there is press footage of this event that can be seen here!

Throwback Chef

A photo of the audio-animatronic figure named John.  He is working in the kitchen and wearing a green apron that says, "My Food Rocks!"

As John gets ready to burn the turkey once again, he has donned his apron emblazoned with the words, “My Food Rocks!” This is undoubtedly a reference to the musical show, Food Rocks, that ran multiple times a day in The Land pavilion at Epcot from 1994 to 2004. It is fun to imagine John rocking out to Good Nutrition by The Peach Boys.

Walt’s Ski Resort

A photo of the audio-animatronic figure named Jimmy.  He is seated on a barstool next to the kitchen island and is a quarter-zip, raglan-style pullover with a left chest logo.  The logo is shaped like a shield and has a mountain with a sun and snowflake above it.  The shield is capped off with a crown.

Walt Disney had a love of nature and recreation, skiing in particular. This enjoyment led him to pursue the creation of a ski resort in the Mineral King area during the 1960s. For an in-depth history on the origins, evolution, and downfall of this project, be sure to check out WDW Radio Show #557 – Unbuilt Disney Parks. During the development of this concept, an unknown artist created six possible logo designs for Walt Disney’s Sky Crown at Mineral King. While some debate remains as to whether “Sky Crown” was going to be the name of the resort or a restaurant within a larger complex, the logos are fascinating nonetheless.

How does all of this relate to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress? In the Christmas scene, Jimmy is wearing a quarter-zip pullover with a left-chest logo. This logo is undoubtedly the summer/winter mountain Mineral King logo concept combined with the crown seen on four of the other logo designs. All six of the logos were shared by Disney Art Designer, Kevin Kidney, on Flickr (username: Miehana) a number of years ago. This is a fascinatingly deep pull for the Imagineers that ties together Walt’s love of recreation, one of his unrealized projects, and an attraction that bears his name.

Kendall has been a member of the WDW Radio Team since 2013. Today, you can read her work on the WDW Radio Blog or hear her join Lou for a number of WDW Radio podcast episodes. Kendall’s affection for Walt Disney World began with her very first family visit in the 1990s and has continued with each magical vacation since. Follow her on Twitter @kl_foreman.