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« "As Long as There Is Imagination Left in the World": Putting the Phrase to Better Use | Main | Tiny Submarine Voyage + PeopleMover Model »
Tuesday
May142013

Tomorrowland '67 [Part 4]

In Part 3 we explored little-known details about the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland and its upper-level Progress City. Now we turn back the clock even further to a time when the Carousel of Progress was going to have an OMNIMOVER RIDE! This wonderful concept has been right under our noses for years yet we never hear anyone talking about it. Let's gather some concept art and make sense of this great idea. 

After the success of the Carousel of Progress at the World's Fair, Disney pitched a concept to General Electric that included a ride system similar to the system later built for EPCOT Center's Spaceship Earth. The vehicles were to be called "G.E.M.s" or "General Electric Mobiles" (above). How would an entire ride system have fit into the Carousel Theater?

Take a look at the first image in this post and next image below. We've seen these pieces of concept art in various books over the years. The image below has been on display on Main Street at Disneyland for the last few years. But have you ever noticed how the lower level of the Carousel of Progress building is without walls? It's an open-air architecture. The rotating Carousel Theater appears to be on the upper level. Yep, that was the plan.

Disney planned for a switchback ramp on the exterior of the building, much like the one at World's Fair. Guests would have walked from ground-level up to an upper-level queue before boarding the attraction. Audience members would have exited their theater seats after Act 4, then entered a boarding area in front of them.

The following concept art by John Hench has always intrigued and fascinated me. I have often heard and read that this piece represents the speedramp that was built for Tomorrowland '67. You know, the ramp that took the audience from the lower level to the upper level of the building. It's often assumed that the vehicles in the rendering were Peoplemovers. The vehicles are actually "G.E.M.s" and this all takes place on the upper level of the building.

From the upper level, the ride vehicles would have taken passengers on a slow downward spiral towards a Progress City model, as seen in the next piece of concept art. The model city would have been below the Carousel Theater. In fact, it would have been well below the upper level. The center of the model would have been at basement level.

FUN FACT: A basement of sorts was built under the Carousel of Progress building (now the Innoventions building) and is still there today. I would often enter this basement area from a staircase backstage on the far east side of the building not far from the men's locker room. The locker room was on the back side of the Grand Canyon Diorama. A long basement hallway would lead to the Alpine Gardens (now Pixie Hollow) near the Matterhorn. The basement area and hallway look a lot like Magic Kingdom's Utilidors.

The following artwork is a detail from a broader Hench rendering of the General Electric Pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The concept of the zig-zag roofs over various full-scale (or almost full-scale) show scenes was to be included in the omnimover attraction at Disneyland. Not only would guests have traveled closer and closer to the scale Progress City model, they would have experienced up-close views of G.E.-living at its best. 

Show elements would have been similar to G.E.'s "Medallion City" exhibit in their World's Fair Pavilion.

We learn something interesting about the proposed G.E.-sponsored building in the next image, courtesy of the great Tomorrowlounge 67 website. The building was to have an open center, like a donut. This would explain the palm trees in the images 1 and 5 of this post. Would the model city in the center of the donut have been exposed to rain and other weather? Perhaps the model city was protected. Perhaps it was gradually revealed to ride passengers and not visible from the boarding area. I can't be certain.

Another interesting thing we learn from this next piece is that a different People Mover track layout was planned. See how it doesn't stretch down the middle avenue from the rocket tower towards the entrance of the land? Sort of like Magic Kingdom's Peoplemover layout. Also, it appears to travel all the way over towards what is now the Storybook Land queue.

Here I've prepared a set of cross sections representing both the proposed attraction and the attraction that was actually built.

 

At some point the idea of an open-air lower level was changed to a walled-in lower level. You'll notice the Carousel of Progress show is still on the upper level. It looks like the Peoplemover track was to exit the north side of the building but look how it comes out of the building on the lower level, unlike the version that was actually built.

Why did this magnificent concept never come to pass? My guess would be... money. Isn't it always money?

There are still plenty of mysteries surrounding this Carousel of Progress/Progress City ride. What was it going to be called? What else was it going to include? If you have more information on the subject, please let us know. Email us at Imagineering.Disney@gmail.com.

 

Related posts:

Tomorrowland '67 [Part 1]
Tomorrowland '67 [Part 2]
Tomorrowland '67 [Part 3]
1967 "New Tomorrowland" Broadcast
America Sings
THEN AND NOW: 1964-65 New York World's Fair
Carousel of Progress Like You’ve Never Seen It

 

Reader Comments (15)

GREAT article! I didn't know any of that...and here I thought I was such a knowledgeable fan! Thanks for teaching me so much more about my favorite attractions, Cop & PM!

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

How long 'til Disney starts exploiting a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding for new attractions based on classic concepts? I mean, if folks were excited enough by the idea of a 'Garden State 2' to pony up $2 million, aren't there enough rich Disney geeks to pay for this or the Western River Expedition or the Snow Palace?

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJu-osh M.

INCREDIBLE. It's AMAZING that we've seen so many of these concept renderings yet never noticed certain things nor understood what certain things meant. It's all so clear now.

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJumperJH

The sixth image reminds me of The Home of Future Living at WDW's Space Mountain.

I truly appreicate your posts. I learn something each time. It's great to see what could have been, compare that to what was, and then go back and look at what is. Thank you.

May 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria R

This place continues to amaze me. Keep up the great work.

May 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Love the COP, thanks for updates.

That 1966 New Tomorrowland overview featuring the "doughnut" Carousel of Progress didn't seem to include a model city of the future at all in its concept. It featured a GE House of the Future in it's center --that's why there are palm trees in the theater's middle --its part of a garden courtyard to the House of Tomorrow. I would suspect that at this point the Monsanto House of the Future was pretty
"old Fashioned" by 1966 standards, and Monsanto had lost interests in the Plastic House. WED was romancing Monsanto to sponsor something bigger (and size and sponsorship money) in the future new Tomorrowland.

-Mike Cozart, TOMORROWLOUNGE

That 1966 New Tomorrowland overview featuring the "doughnut" Carousel of Progress didn't seem to include a model city of the future at all in its concept. It featured a GE House of the Future in it's center --that's why there are palm trees in the theater's middle --its part of a garden courtyard to the House of Tomorrow. I would suspect that at this point the Monsanto House of the Future was pretty
"old Fashioned" by 1966 standards, and Monsanto had lost interests in the Plastic House. WED was romancing Monsanto to sponsor something bigger (and size and sponsorship money) in the future new Tomorrowland.

-Mike Cozart, TOMORROWLOUNGE

Amazingly, the model CoP at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco uses the doughnut design:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wdwradio/8719359842/in/photostream
I'm guessing that this was the plan at the time Walt died, so it made sense to include that design, rather than the as-built version.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMax Power

Great to hear from all of you.

Mike Cozart- I was hoping you'd comment. According to the materials I read, (a packet prepared by W.E.D. and given to G.E. at one point), the model city was to sit in the bottom of the donut hole with future-living sets around it. Now like always, I could be mistaken.

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

World Famous Dave Ensign- YES. The few renderings I saw looked a lot like The Home of Future Living.

Ju-osh M.- I've often wondered if private funding could lead to some of those things. Great question.

Max Power- Nice find! I had always thought they opened the middle of that part of the model to show the attraction much like they did with Mr. Lincoln and others. But maybe the donut was what they were going for?

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

By 1965 the whole open lower level of the Carousel Theater at Disneyland was to have a GE MEDALION Home & Garden of Tomorrow. The WEDWAY PeopleMover would dip down and meander through the garden along side the home in what is termed the GE HOME "VIEW-THRU". It's possible that the model city was to have been a background feature thru another wall of the house etc.......because it isn't really featured in any of the plans or concept renderings......in fact most of the house is visible to guests from almost any side. But again--these are just concepts. The GE Medallion home was no imagined exhibit--GE worked with developers to feature GE Medallion homes --many of these GE MEDALION HOME Communities still exist here in Orange County California --but 60's as they are, they are not as flashy as anything in the Carousel Of Progress.

At one point GOODYEAR wanted a model city on the lower level of the PeopleMover loading station showcasing all the uses of Goodyear products in a city of tomorrow ----maybe this would have been to contradicting to a GE City model.....Eventually the concept was a model of Disneyland that showed all the uses of Goodyear products inside the (Disneyland) Magic Kingdom. Guests would pick up a phone and hear a description of the rubber usage and a spot light would illuminate the area on the model where the product was used and the same time on a screen above, there would be a footage showing how and where it was implemented in the park......I'll feature this WEDWAY station on a TOMORROWLOUNGE post in the future.

Is the AAA Member Lounge still around the backside of the building? I always liked going in there to get a soda and out of the crowds for a few minutes, and pretend it was the "poor man's Club 33", lol.

June 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Yeah, I gotta give you this. It seems a lot of cool ideas get swept under the rug in favor of what? AVATARLAND! A theme park to a movie that isn't really all that great once you take off the 3D glasses.
@ Ju-osh M.
I like this idea. Disney doesn't want to pay for cool attractions? Fine, let the fans do it!

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain C

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