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Orange Bird Photo Hunt



Entries in Mystery (9)


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


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



Florida Orange Bird


Take a look some never-before-posted photos of the Florida Orange Bird. Join us in our hunt for additional photos. We know they’re out there!

We’ve had a blast looking at all the great photos people have sent in as part of our Photo Hunt. We were thrilled to receive the following three photos of the Orange Bird costumed character in Adventureland. Notice the two different costumes. One with a smooth head and one with a fur-covered head.

An air vent?

Jennifer Jones submitted this wonderful shot from 1979. And look at that old “Exit Only” Tropical Serenade sign in the background.

When was the costume changed? Or were there always two? Or more? I am led to believe the first lasted until some point between 1974 and 1977, based on the few photographs that exist on the web. It was probably replaced at that point with the second costume– the one with the fur-covered head and the shiny yellow feat. This second version very well could have been a modified version of the original costume.

Meanwhile, the Florida Orange Bird spread his wings in places other than Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. An additional Orange Bird costume, which most-likely never set foot in Walt Disney World, attended special citrus-related events.

Miss Florida Citrus 1984, Lori Schirard Grubb, was kind enough to send us the following two fantastic photos of herself with the Orange Bird.

Here Lori poses with an inflatable Orange Bird.

Miss Florida Citrus 1986, Rosemarie Payne, sent us this great photo of herself with the same Orange Bird costumed character. Was this taken at a county fair perhaps? Maybe some sort of citrus fair?

Back in Adventureland the Orange Bird and Florida Citrus Queen 1977, Lisa Maile, enjoy the Sunshine Pavilion. Look at that cool Orange Bird lapel pin. "Disney World Plans Citrus Celebration". Do we know anything about that??

Lisa poses with... wait, is that the same inflatable Orange Bird? 7 years earlier?

A big thanks to LuAnn Mims, College Archivist, Florida Souther College and Brenda Eubanks Burnette, Executive Director, Florida Citrus Hall of Fame and everyone who shared photos.

For a comprehensive history of the Florida Orange Bird at Walt Disney World read the Sunshine Tree Terrace page over at the unparalleled Widen Your World.

As indicated above, go find your old Orange Bird photos and send them our way. We promise to make great use of them and share them with lots of fans like yourself. If you find photos of the animatronic version of the Orange Bird you get extra special props. Only one photo of the little robotic bird has ever surfaced on the internet. Read about it on the Widen Your World link above. It's from Ed Barlow who happens to be a fan of this blog too. Hi Ed! 

And remember to stop by the Sunshine Tree Terrace and enjoy the recent return of the delicious Citus Swirl.

[Part 2] now available.


Related posts:

Florida Orange Bird [Part 2]
 Kid and Deeee-licious Fritos!
Frito Kid Mysteries Continue
WDW Before Opening Day 1971
THEN AND NOW: MK Adventureland [Part 1]
What Disney Characters Love
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
Photo Hunt Update


Rhine River Cruise Mysteries

Plans for a boat ride called Rhine River Cruise in EPCOT Center’s Germany Pavilion were shelved sometime shortly after the park opened in 1982. Few details about the ride have ever surfaced. Let’s dive in and see what we can find.

What we know.

"The future River Ride promises to be as enjoyable as it is informative. An early concept has guests boarding a "cruise boat" for a simulated ride down the Rhine and other rivers, the trip affording a visual impression in miniature of the cultural heritage of Germany's past and highlights of its present. Among the detailed models envision are scenes in the Black Forest, the Oktoberfest, Heidelberg, the industrial Ruhr Valley... the possibilities are limited only by the planners' imaginations." –"Walt Disney's EPCOT Center" by Richard Beard

According to the Walt Disney Company's 1976 annual report, the Rhine River Cruise was to be "... a cruise down Germany's most famous rivers– the Rhine, the Tauber, the Ruhr and the Isar. Detailed miniatures of famous landmarks will also be seen, including one of the Cologne Cathedral."

Other accounts claim that the ride would have also feature the country’s more modern achievements much like Norway’s Maelstrom boat ride includes that country’s more recent industrial efforts. These most likely would have stood in the Ruhr Valley portion of the ride.

How much of the ride was built?

For years I was under the understanding that the show building for the river ride was built. It’s widely mentioned online and in at least one book that the the full show building was built and still stands today.

As it turns out, this is false. Or at least partially false. But how can this be? I’ve walked through the show building a number of times. A piece of the show building, attached to the rest of the pavilion, was built and still stands today. But the majority of the show building was never constructed. You’ll notice on our map above that the load area and the unload area are all that could have fit in the existing building.

It is often pointed out that the large castle-like building behind the clock tower is the Rhine River Cruise show building. The tallest, most prominent castle architecture you see to the left is, however, the Biergarten restaurant building. Shorter castle architecture to the right is the queue/load building.

Claims have been made that trenches were built into the foundation of these parts of the building. If true, they’ve since been filled.

Was the rest of the show building built then torn down? It was not. Let’s look at these EPCOT Center construction photos. We see that the rest of the show building was never built. (Additional World Showcase construction photos here.)


What remains today?

In the early 80’s large wooden doors stood at what was to be the entrance to the Rhine River Cruise queue. They were later covered with a wall and this mural. 

Photo from fan of the blog, Varsenik Wilson.

Photo from fan of the blog, Todd Shirley.

Photo from fan of the blog, Varsenik Wilson.

I am guessing the doors were removed and the mural went in within the first five years. It could have went in much earlier. The inside of the Germany Pavilion archways tend to show up very dark in old photos and video footage. We know by 1987 (at the latest) the doors were gone and the mural was up. This is based on a souvenir book published in 1987 with a clear view of the mural.

Were the wooden doors placed right where the mural is today? Were there additional doors in the archway? Was the whole foyer area west of the Biergarten entrance blocked off? We see from this early early photo (most likely from a pre-opening preview day) that a wooden door or wall appears. It’s difficult to determine if its under the archway itself or further back against the wall.

My guess: This wooden door/wall was up against the archway. Let’s compare it to the left archway in the same photo It appears that nothing as far back as the back wall would be visible in this photo.

Why would the “wooden door” matter?

It was evidence of the unbuilt attraction visible to guests. Could concept art or some sort of “coming soon” signage have appeared on or near the door? If so, such a sign most likely would have been seen by guests for a very short time. The company stopped mentioning the Rhine River Cruise in1982 at some point. Perhaps before a single guest entered EPCOT Centers’ gates.

Why would a door blocking traffic through the archway be important? Could this foyer area have been designed to incorporate the first Rhine River Cruise scenery? Blueprints don’t indicate a separation between the Rhine River side and Biergarten side of the foyer but could a separation have been planned? A queue/load area like the one in this concept art might require some of the foyer real-estate.

Starboard-facing passengers.

It is my conclusion that passengers aboard the boats were to sit facing out the starboard (right) side of the boats. This is based on the layout of the water flume and what we can see in the above artwork. The water loop does not appear to accommodate show scenery on both sides of the water.

If passengers faced one direction, all show scenes would appear directly in front of the passengers and a dark wall would stand behind them. This increases visibly, show designers ensure that their audience sees what they intend them to see, and space is saved. This is much like the Disneyland Railroad benches facing right, toward the inside of the park.

Here we see a rendering of the load area and a boat much wider than they were planned to really be. Isn't the atmosphere is oh so nice?

An exit with a view.

Blueprints show an area between the unload are and the exit called “Viewing Area”. This box-shaped area faces the Biergarten stage. Today this area is used for buffet service. I reckon guests leaving the ride would have been able to step off the exit path onto a porch for a view of the restaurant and its live entertainment. The smells of German food might have enticed them to dine at the pavilion. Unlike in the Mexico Pavilion, boat passenger and restaurant guests would not have had a great view of what the others were doing. This viewing area would have at least connected the two in a small way.

Added bonus.

Does it not look like there's a little piece of a boat in the archway of this Germany Pavilion logo?


Other info needed.

If you have other information about the Rhine River Cruise plans, please let us know.

Special thanks to:

Foxxfur from Passport to Dreams.
Michael Crawford from Progress City, U.S.A
Hoot Gibson from Mesa Verde Times
Mike Lee from Widen Your World 
Epcot Explorium
Epcot Encyclopedia
Varsenik Wilson and Todd Shirley for the mural photos.
Various printed resources from The Walt Disney Company.


Related posts:

EPCOT Construction from the Air
THEN AND NOW: Epcot World Showcase [Part 1]
Mural-Removin' Season at Disney
EPCOT Center Graphics
Disneyland Meets EPCOT Center
Walt's Wife Talks About EPCOT Center
Carolwood Pacific and Other Backyard Railroads
Frito Kid Mysteries Continue