Sunday, March 06, 2016

Fuzzy Carousel of Progress, May 1973

I sure wish today's photos of Disneyland's Carousel of Progress were not so fuzzy... as they are, they have been relegated to a Sunday post. 

Even so, the "today" scene (more like the hopeful "near future") has always been my favorite of the bunch, reflecting Walt Disney's optimistic view of what life could be if we willed it so. Father and Mother are enjoying Christmas in their home that looks modern in a warm, mid-century way. An avocado fridge! I'll bet it has "Tab" sodas in bright pink cans in it. Father has gone gray, but Mother still looks pretty foxy! Beautiful Progress City can be seen out the window. 

This picture was taken only months before the Carousel of Progress was closed for its eventual move to Orlando (it closed on September 9th, 1973).

Next is a blurry shot of one of the memorable "Kaleidophonic Screens", which displayed changing colors and patterns of light. 


Nanook said...


The Carousel of Progress was always a favorite here at the House of Nanook, but I always wondered why the dogs in each scene appeared so 'odd-looking'. 'Sport' or 'Queenie' or 'whoever' pictured here looks as if he just returned from a very expensive stylist exclusively for over-pampered dogs. He appears so spooked; not to mention his "fur"-!

And just looking at the image of the Kaleidophonic Screen is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, they were able to pick their appliance colors from so many beautiful combinations. I think far off to the right, I can see a welcome neighbor....their G.E. nuclear power plant!

This was and always will be, my favorite Disneyland attraction. They just don't make them like this anymore. And yes, I'll say it again....they ruined it when they moved it to Walt Disney World. :-(

K. Martinez said...

Ironically in all the times I went to Disneyland back then, I never saw the Carousel of Progress there. When my cousin wanted to go on it, I replied "what do I want to go on a carousel for when they already have one in Fantasyland?". It was in 1978 at Walt Disney World that I finally got to see it with the "Best Time of Your Life" soundtrack. I enjoyed it.

And outside Carousel family's window is the awesomely original vision of "E.P.C.O.T.", not that "EPCOT Center" copout they installed at WDW. If only Walt had lived just a wee bit longer. Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I agree, the dogs were always more like strange stuffed toys - you KNOW that they could have made them much more realistic. Maybe it was done for comic effect?

TokyoMagic!, I imagine that when you bought a GE appliance, they handed you a catalog, and it had one color, because why would you want anything other than avacado? Harvest gold, don't make me laugh. I really did love this attraction; listening to the original soundtrack reminds us of how dated it was, but now it makes it that much more charming.

K. Martinez, I know that people who are mostly familiar with the "Best Time of Your Life" love it, but to me it can't hold a candle to "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow"! I've always wondered if Walt's original concept for EPCOT, as a real community of tomorrow, would have actually been built had he lived another decade or so. It hardly seems possible, and yet... he might have made it work through sheer force of will.

Chuck said...

I know this is going to sound odd, but I think Walt passed away at exactly the right time.

He left us at the precise moment when he was at the zenith of his public recognition and respect and was spared what happened next. He missed most of the social upheaval of the late 1960s an early 1970s, Watergate and the growing distrust of government, the progressively more savage deconstruction and ridicule of his work in portions of academia and segments of the public, and the economic slumps that curtailed expansion plans at both Disneyland and WDW. In that financial, political, and social environment, even he might not have been able to pull off his vision for EPCOT, and I hate to think of him as an elderly man, gradually losing his faculties and fighting what might have been a bitter disappointment at not achieving his ultimate dream.

Instead of the final glimpses we had of an emaciated, cancer-riddled John Wayne or a confused Ronald Reagan suffering from Alzheimer's, we are left with a last image of Walt as a man whose mind, spirit, and optimism were sharp and clear to the end, with a vision for a "great big beautiful tomorrow" for all of us that he didn't live to see. I find that image of Walt more inspiring, and I think that inspiration - even more than laughter, even more than entertainment for the whole family - was his greatest gift to us all.

Nanook said...


Very eloquently stated.

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, There's no doubt about it that Walt was a man from and of his time, but I do think that if the inheritors of his empire and vision were truly creative and dedicated, they could've pulled it off or something close to it. I believe the scope of Walt Disney World's Phase One was already something new and unprecedented at the time and its process from idea to planning to execution all took place during the turbulent 60's and unrest. Through all that and the death of his brother, Roy was still able to pull off opening the Florida property.

Why would EPCOT have to be a "real" community in the sense that its citizens would take up permanent residence or own property? Why not have it where people work and live there for a period of 4-6 years, sort of like a university program in which the "citizens" who work and live there are sponsored or there by recommendation. Due to human nature there would certainly still be social and political issues, but what city doesn't have that? Even the Disney town of Celebration had its issues. Then again, maybe I'm not thinking from an informed background since I'm no expert on city planning.

Bottom line, Walt's original vision for the Florida property was canned. They played it safe and built what they already know how to do. More theme parks. And hotels. Sadly the "Epcot" theme park that's there now is predicted to have the lowest annual attendance of all four theme parks in the next few years if something isn't done to reverse that trend.

Chuck, I have given thought to Walt and his generation's America many times and I agree with you that he passed away at about the right time. The business climate is certainly not the same as when Walt was alive. I just sometimes get bummed that his ultimate vision died with him.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

Whoops... my above comment should have been directed at you. My error.

The Major will just have to wait his turn before properly receiving his scepter. (Or should that be tiara and sash-??)

Tom said...

I loved that kaleidophonic screen - I can still remember seeing it pulsating with magical star shapes as the theme played. It was inspiring, all the promise of the wonders of electricity. The looming GE logo also remains etched in my memory, from our visit in 1969.

MRaymond said...

This is another of my favorite attractions when I was a lot younger. It was such a complete immersion into another world and time. And to take the speedramp upstairs and soak in the Progress City model was fascinating to my young mind.

Oddly enough, when I think about why I wanted to go into a technical career field, this attraction pops into my head. In 1971, most ten year old kids were watching the show unfold. I was watching the animatronics and trying to figure out how they worked. I would have killed to get under the floor and seen how that worked.

And the color-wall at the end, that one I had figured out. My dad had built a room divider with a Plexiglas inlay screen, the screen was the same stuff the color wall was made with. Christmas lights behind the screen had the same diamond pattern.

I still catch myself humming "It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" at times.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, perhaps you are right, but Walt had a way of surviving and adapting, from the horse and buggy to the early days of animation through to the space age. You make good points about the way the changing world might have made the Disney products seem trite at best. And I admit that some of their products were pretty terrible for a while. “Million Dollar Duck”, anyone? The movie about the mule that played football?? Of course these were post-Walt.

The concept of EPCOT was so gigantically enormous that I’m not even sure I have a clue HOW enormous it really was! And yes, it would have required money, and the cooperation of major industries. If anybody could rally them, it would have been Walt.

Perhaps much of his optimistic image is due to just what you suggested - we never really saw him ailing and without all of his faculties - think of Marilyn Monroe… would she be so worshipped if we saw her age to 85? Who knows.

Nanook - yes, Chuck did a good job!!

K. Martinez, I like your suggestion of EPCOT being more of a laboratory where people could live for a limited period of time. Would that have worked? It’s so hard to say. I can’t blame his successors for playing it safe - it is likely that nobody could REALLY see EPCOT the way that Walt truly envisioned it. He was a man with big ideas - and the willingness to take risks. Considering that his father Elias lived to be 82, I can’t help wondering what would have been if Walt hadn’t smoked and he continued to be productive for another 10 years or more.

Nanook, I will just make my own scepter out of cardboard and aluminum foil.

Tom, I don’t remember the kaleidophonic screen, though I’m sure I must have seen it. It reminds me of a giant jukebox.

MRaymond, thanks for your great memories of being a curious kid; I think a lot of GDB readers can related. I love the story of your dad’s room divider, I can almost picture it! You can never hear “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” too many times.

Peter Stocking said...

Yes, The kaleidoscopic screens, timed with the music was, and still is, very cutting edge, surprised someone hasn't taken the idea to the next level yet, or maybe they have and i am not aware?

Peter Stocking said...

Love the "city of tomorrow" slash EPCOT city in the background, a preview of course that we used to be able to walk up a speed-ramp up to see the actual model that Walt had built as a prototype way back in the distant 60s, still waiting for the TL remake too...but i digress...

Peter Stocking said...

okay so now that song is going though my head...don't say it!!!