Friday, January 15, 2016

Carousel of Progress Scenes, October 1967

When I was recently going through some vintage Disneyland slides, I was very happy to find some nice (and scarce) interiors from the classic Carousel of Progress! Dated "October 1967", these were taken when the attraction had only been in the park for three months. I loved this attraction when I was a kid, and recently listened to the soundtrack while researching this post. Some of the humor is so corny, and much of the attraction is a commercial for General Electric, and yet... it was wonderful anyway.

All of today's photos are from the little side scenes, hidden behind scrims until the lights changed. Like magic!

This first image was taken during the first act, which Father tells us is "...just before the turn of the century". After hearing about the modern-day conveniences, such as gas lamps, a telephone, a cast iron stove, and an icebox, Sarah (aka "Mother) tells us about her "new washday marvel; it takes only five hours to do the wash. Imagine!". Now she has time for recreations like canning and polishing the stove! And ironing the wrinkles out of Father's shirts.

Moments later (still in the 1890's), we learn that they have the next best thing to an opera house... a talking machine. It plays a scratchy version of "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow", sung by an Irish tenor. You can see Grandmother sitting by the Victrola, while a parrot (voiced by Mel Blanc) sits nearby. "Raawk! She keeps that thing going all day long. Rawwk! That tenor is driving me nuts, rawk! Progress, rawwwwk!". 

Next we get to spy on the daughter as she prepares for her evening out. Father is totally cool with it.

"You know, the young folks have their own ideas about entertainment. For instance, Jane, our teenage daughter, is getting ready to go to a trolley party on one of those new electric streetcars. She says hayrides are old fashioned."

Jane: "OH!"

Father: "Don't be upset, daughter, they're friends". 

In this next tableau, we skip to Act 3, the "frantic forties". Father says: "Well, our whole family is caught up in the new do-it-yourself craze. Mother's remodeling my basement workshop into something called a rumpus room. Be careful now, Mother." 

"Don't Worry about me, dear."

"Mother's pretty ingenious, like using her food mixer for stirring... paint? Well, that's my wife Sarah. You know, I remember when..."

Mother's scene fades to black, but we hear a loud crash. Don't worry, she's fine!

The last picture in this series shows two kids entranced by a fuzzy image on a small black and white TV (with the sounds of horses hooves and guns firing).

"Well, thanks to progress, Mother and I can spend more time together. We've got the new electronic babysitter. Television is here and no doubt it will improve. But I'll bet there'll always we the good guys shooting it out with the bad guys."

Unfortunately there were no photos of Father, or of the 1960's with "Progress City" out the window, or of the giant model of Progress City that guests could see for themselves. But I am still happy to have these pictures from the Disneyland version of the Carousel of Progress!


Nanook said...


More great interior images from a most-favorite attraction.

Uh, huh. It's hard to imagine how life could be any easier. But there's
a new company, uh, General Electric they call it, who are trying to bring
the same power that runs the trolley into folk's homes. I don't know, but
if those fellows work that out, one thing is certain...

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

These are holy grail pics for me, Major! Unfortunately, there aren't that many interior photos of the Carousel of Progress floating around out there. And in my opinion, this was the BEST. ATTRACTION. EVER. Thank you for sharing these!

Chuck said...

...and now I have Mother's voice in my head - "yes, Dear."

Considering the cameras and slide film speeds available in 1967, these truly are remarkable images. The fastest slide film I'm aware of for this period was Ektachrome 160, and if these were Kodakchrome, we're talking ASA 64 at most. This must have taken a fast lens and a very steady hand or a monopod.

Thanks for sharing these, Major.

Scott Lane said...

Major, you might be scraping the bottom of the slide barrel but you've come up with absolute gold this time!

You know, it's a shame that most of the photographers will never know how many people have been enjoying their family photos. (or how much fun has been had at their expense when they're particularly BAD photos)

I think this is the first time I've ever seen "Jack" and "Janet" (or whatever their names are) in front of the tv. I'm used to Granma changing the channel to the boxing match while Gramps snoozes.

And great, Chuck, great.....thanks for sharing your earwig. Now I'll be hearing Mother all day, too...

Chuck said...

Sharing is caring, Kenneth Lane... :-)

Mark H. Besotted said...

Yeah, why is Father so creeptastic? "They're friends" doesn't begin to make me feel any more comfortable with that scene.

WDW is my closest Disneyplace, and I've spent hours in the COP over the years. The mid-90's script removed the worst of the overt sexism, but it's waaaaaay overdue for another rewrite. As just the first example that comes to mind, what teenager used the phrase "car phone" in 1999?

With that said, I still love it. For those of us who can't get to Anaheim often, the Carousel is our best chance to spend time with something Walt touched personally.

Unknown said...

Ah, the Carousel of Progress. I was just thinking of the "light box" or "light organ" display that the entrance theater displayed. My brother Mike built a small version of one of those with the translucent prismatic panel that responded to music. So now my earworm is the narrator remarking about "the roar of a rocket engine" as the wall of light lights up in reds and oranges. Good times.

Irene said...

What a find - what a treasure. These truly are remarkable photos! Miss this attraction so much. When daughter and I went to WDW going on six years ago now, this was one attraction we wanted to see and so we went in a couple of times. (Did the same with Country Bears only to a greater extent)

Tom said...

I totally heard Rex Allen reading this entire post in my head. One of my favorite attractions at Disneyland. I'll never forget my slack-jawed amazement in 1969 when my older brother leaned over and whispered that the actors are all robots. Thanks for the pics! Love these.

TokyoMagic! said...

Is that one of the robins and their nest that we can see outside the window in the first two pics? I don't remember which window they appeared outside of. They seem a little bit high for audience viewing, but maybe the photographer was very tall? You know, when the robins are back, "...that's a sure sign of Spring!"

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it’s too bad that General Electric never amounted to anything!

TokyoMagic!, I often wonder why I loved the Carrousel of Progress, but was not crazy about other audio-animatronic shows such as “America Sings” and “The Country Bear Jamboree”. Maybe it was the age at which I saw them. Or maybe it was that the COP wasn’t strictly a “singing robots” show - instead it had characters, side stories, and the fun of seeing the way life was years ago versus the way the Imagineers thought it might be in the near future. And it had “Daughter” in her underwear.

Chuck, the slides were very dark, so Photoshop helped with that. And luckily those particular figures in the sides scenes didn’t move a whole lot - some of them were practically just mannequins (like the kids watching TV). But I don’t want to take away from the photographer’s skill! And poor Mother sounds just a little tired of Father expecting her to iron the wrinkles out of his shirts.

Kenneth Lane, I wonder if anybody has ever looked at this blog and seen their family photos! Does the Florida version of the COP have Grandmother watching wrestling? I need to listen to a more recent audio recording. At least Mother’s voice isn’t as insidious as daughter Jane’s when she is talking on the phone while on the reducing machine!

Chuck, I thought money was caring.

Mark H. Besotted, I can imagine the meetings in which somebody thought that the show needed a little sex appeal. “I know! How about a teenage daughter? We can show her in her undies!”. “George, you say that every time we have a meeting. If we do it, will you promise me that you’ll shut up?”. Also… “car phone”, I love it.

Patrick Devlin, I have one or two blurry photos (from a different lot) showing the “Kaleidophonic Screen”… I might share them eventually, even though they are not great. Like you, I always loved the “roar of a rocket” part!

Irene, these were a fun find, and it was nice to see that they could be restored to a presentable state thanks to Photoshop. I think I have some Country Bear slides somewhere, as well.

Tom, I love Rex Allen’s narration (and singing)… “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” might be my favorite Disneyland song of all time.

TokyoMagic!, yes, that appears to be a robin tweeting outside the window. I remember hearing that it was reused from Mary Poppins, does anybody know if that’s true?

Nanook said...


"The robins are back. That's a sure sign of spring".

As for the story regarding the robin being the very one used in Mary Poppins, I have heard that from many Disney employees - which in itself doesn't make it fact; but am fairly certain it is.

And I would agree with you for all the reasons you cited as to why CoP strikes such a strong chord with so many. It certainly does for me. Of course, there was that cringe-worthy moment in the Florida version - I don't know what years it was 'active' - but Jane, the teenage "Daughter" in the 'modern scene' was going-on about Women's Lib, and somehow working-in a lyric, a part of which was: ♫ ...We're forward-marching, we're in the parade. ♫, that was sung to the tune of It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. Oh, brother-!!

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

As a ridiculously-obscure side note, back in the early days of the original 3-Strip Technicolor, prior to ASA numbers, it's been estimated the film "speed" would be the equivalent of around ASA 2-4-! (That's why you hear stories of MGM needing just about every Brute they could muster back when they were shooting GWTW and The Wizard of Oz in 1939.

MRaymond said...

Oh Man, what a find. The CoP was one of my favorite Tomorrowland attractions when I was a kid. My dad had to pry me from the railings to get me to leave the Progress City model.

BTW, I did a lot of Ektachrome slides in the 70s and you could PUSH the film to 400 ASA if you took care of subject lighting. I also used a film called EastmanColor which could also be pushed to 400 with better results.

I'd kill to have those slide carousels back.

Dean Finder said...

Nanook - the current version at WDW has dropped the women's lib lines from the 1970s version (the one with the Now is the Time theme) for a 1993 version that restores There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow and plays more like a sitcom--father is the punchline of the jokes now.

Part of me would like to see a new update, but I would miss the Jean Shepherd narration. I'm also not sure how they would handle the huge expanse of time from the 1890s to the present in 4 show scenes. I suppose they could make it 1900s-1940s-1980s-near future, or add a 5th show scene by combining the load and unload theaters.

I know people who can't stand the ride, they call it the "Carousel of Boredom" Pearls before swine, I say! On the other hand, I'm struck about how amazing that show must have been to the people who watched it at the NYWF and saw how far they had come. A man could have been born in a house without indoor plumbing, but flew to the WF in a jet plane and stayed in a skyscraper hotel. I'm surprised we don't have pictures of people walking out of that ride with their jaws hanging open.

Nanook said...

@ Dean Finder-

Whoops... Thanks for correcting my mis-identification of the tune to which the "women's lib" lyrics was appended - of course it was Now is the Time. I'm afraid I succumbed to a condition of the 'momentary vapors' (where's my fainting couch-??) merely thinking of the lyrics-!

Chuck said...

Nanook - Great tidbit on early 3-strip Technicolor film speed. I'd heard about the massive numbers of lights required for "Citizen Kane," but I thought that had to do with needing to use stop the lenses waaaay down to get the deep depth of field the film is famous for.

MRaymond - My understanding is that Kodak didn't start offering push processing for Ektachrome until 1968. Did you lose just the carousels or the slides that were in them?

MRaymond said...

I started taking pictures and slides at Disneyland when I was 13 so that would be 1974. I really got into slide photography in 76 because of the vibrant color. Between 76 to 80 I took an easy four carousels of film as well as Super 8mm film. Between 80 to 95 the carousels suffered Texas heat, German humidity, a flooded basement and other tortures. I bought a scanner to convert the slides to digital but many of the slides and all the filmstock had badly discolored or crumbled in thier frames. I still have a few photos but not many.
Some of the stuff that was lost was pov film of the Matterhorn before Harold was added and time exposure slides of the Progress City model, but you get the idea. I'm a Disneyland geek and my family encouraged my photography as long as I didn't waste film. I still have my 1975 Yashica SLR.

Nancy said...

I have some recenter photos of the interior from trips to Magic Kingdom. Ill have to see if I can send them.

My favorite part, of course....

Oh, that’s a nice tune, Jimmy. (To Audience.) Y’know, with our new Crosley radio set, we can get news and big-time entertainment from all over the country. Even Pittsburgh!

Chuck said...

Oh, ouch. Film is a great archival medium if you can keep it within certain storage parameters, and unfortunately, our lives don't always provide us with that ideal environment.

Have you posted any of the stuff you were able to save anywhere?

And that's super-cool that you still have that Yashica.

MRaymond said...

There was a photo's and ephemera post on Micechat that I posted a few of my 'hollow Matterhorn' photos as well as a photo of Space Mountain under construction and a photo of the 'coming attractions' sign in front of the closed, MTTNW.

They were scanned photos that were in a photo album in the house. Negatives were with the slides and suffered the same fate.

Snow White Archive said...

What a terrific find! Vintage greatness Major.