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Entries in Tomorrowland 67 (5)

Wednesday
Jul012015

SOUVENIR: Tomorrowland T-Shirt

New in our Souvenir Store! Quality screen-printed t-shirts featuring Disneyland's Tomorrowland of the good ol' days. This design celebrates the kinetic motion, the progressive spirit, and the fun of Tomorrowland. On sale July 1st - August 15th only.

Here's a small peek into the desing process, right here in a small corner of ImagineeringDisney.com HQ.

 
We've partnered with WEDWay Radio's new project, The Imperial Shirt Co. This new project will bring us shirts from all our favorite shows and sites within the Disney fan community

You should all absolutely be listening to the WEDWay Radio Podcast and WEDWay NOW! hosted by Matt and Nate Parrish, if you aren't already. They are top-notch Disney history listening experiences.

 

 



Available in Gray and Blue


Multiple sizes available

Hanes Tagless (more info)

Unisex Cut

Colors may vary slightly from images posted here.

 

On sale July 1st - August 15th only.


Related posts:

SOUVENIR: Felt Pennants
Tomorrowland '67 [Part 1]
Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain Construction
Tiny Submarine Voyage + PeopleMover Model
National Geographic Aug '63 [Part 1]

 

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

 

Thursday
Sep062012

Tomorrowland '67 [Part 3]

We continue our Tomorrowland '67 series and begin to focus on each individual Tomorrowland attraction. The first attraction on our list is none other than Walt Disney's esteemed Carousel of Progress. 

Carousel of Progress

In case you’ve never hunted for photos of Disneyland’s Carousel of Progress, let me tell you... they are few and far between. If you have ever hunted for photos of the upper level of the attraction you will know... they don’t exist. I’m sure they exist but not on the internet or any book I’ve ever seen. In additon to some photos that do exist, we bring you some custom never-before-seen maps, models, and diagrams.

Walt Disney’s and his “Carousel Theater of Progress”

Walt Disney had a large hand in the development of Carousel of Progress. He kindly shared a behind-the-scenes look at some of the development of the unique attraction in a broadcast called “Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair”.

He referred to it then as the “Carousel Theater of Progress” perhaps to emphasize that the ride was not a traditional carousel but a theater that rotated like a carousel. Perhaps at this point in time its title was going to include the word “theater”.

Either way, we see an excited and charming Walt Disney share an idea that had been evolving for years. It was an idea that dated back to the concept of Edison Square.

Edison Square’s “Harnessing the Lightning” Attraction

The idea of a family presenting inventions that enrich our daily lives began with Edison Square. Edison Square was to be a residential street and extension of Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. but sadly never came to be.

It was to be located off the east side of Main Street just north of another never-built extension called Liberty Street. Edison Square would have shown “the passing from the ‘old’ of the 19th century to the ‘new’ of the early 1900s”. The exterior architecture would have been a composite of various major American cities from New York to San Francisco. An attraction called “Harnessing the Lightning” would have celebrated Thomas Edison using large dioramas of a family using electricity.

Instead of sitting in a theater guests would have walked from scene to scene in sort of a museum-type setting. Starting on the south side of the cul-de-sac you would have walked counter-clockwise until exiting the attraction on the north side of the street.

You would have experienced an American family sharing life pre-electricity, post electricity, during contemporary time, and what was called "The Electronic Age". Edison Square was never built but as you can see many of the ideas were used in the development of Carousel of Progress.

Carousel of Progress at 1964-65 New York World’s Fair

The Carousel of Progress was originally presented at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair at General Electric’s Progressland pavilion.

The pavilion was divided into four main parts. The Carousel of Progress was the main attraction. The “Skydome Spectacular”, the “Medallion City” exhibit, and the “Nuclear Fusion Demonstration” were three post-shows found on the upper level of the pavilion. 

Skydome Spectacular at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair

Carousel of Progress at Disneyland

Walt Disney had the components of the stage show shipped to Disneyland to be a part of New Tomorrowland. G.E. continued their sponsorship. A round two-story building was constructed in Tomorrowland where the old Space Bar food stand and eating area previously stood. 

An outer ring of seating, divided into six sections, and six stationary stages in the center of the first level were added. The second level housed the Progress City model.

At this point Disneyland goers had not been exposed to highly animated human Audio Animatronic figures for very long. Mr. Lincoln arrived less than a year earlier (Remember, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln opened at Disneyland while the World’s Fair was still open for another three months– two Lincolns!). Pirates of the Caribbean with its many human figures had only been open for some three and a half months. 

Entrance, Acts 1-4

Guests entered a covered waiting area (see map above) on the west side of the building before loading into one of six revolving sections of seating. The seating area would then move clockwise to Acts 1 through 4.

Animatronic “Father” and “Mother” and their family members hosted the seated audience. They brought their visitors through time from the late 1800s up to the late 1960s/early 1970s, which was considered “the present and/or near future”. They shared the latest technological advancements of each period. Naturally they referenced products of the attraction’s sponsor, G.E. 

Act 4 showed the family living in Progress City. A painted backdrop of the radial city’s center towers was visible out the living room windows in the back portion of the stage. It was as if their “all-electric home” was positioned in one of the city’s outer residential areas.

The home was equipped with color TV “with a built-in video tape recorder”. Mother enjoys her “garden club, literary society, and the ladies bowling league”.  The temperature-controlled range allows Mother to “set the time and temper controls and relax.” (Perhaps not as entertaining as the voice-operated oven and the mishaps that ensue in Act 4 of today’s CoP at Walt Disney World).  The couple references a “jet airport” where the kids are headed to meet Grandma and Grandpa. “They have their own home now in a community for senior citizens.” 

Speed Ramp

The fifth rotation brought the audience to a moving speed ramp located directly in front the seating area, center stage. Guests were invited to “spring up out of your seats... through the doorway and up the moving ramp” where Act 5 awaited them. “On the second floor Mother and Father from our theater show will join you to tell you all about Progress City. So please keep moving. Don’t stand in the way of progress.”

The following two photos are from the World's Fair but they represent they Disneyland speed ramp layout. Provided by The World's Fair Community

Upper Level, Progress City Model

This is where those custom models and maps come in handy. Thanks to a fan who wishes to remain anonymous we have three rare architectural drawings of the upper level. These have been invaluable in determining the guest flow and in the creation of these images.

At the top of the ramp the walkway curved and divided into three platforms leading guests southward in a clockwise direction.

These tiered viewing areas overlooked a large half-circle Progress City (also referred to as the City of E.P.C.O.T.) model. A fourth tier was for passing PeopleMover vehicles traveling north. 

The PeopleMover track entered the building on the south side right after crossing the rooftop of Flight to the Moon. It curved around the east rim of the building and exited out the north. Passengers could gaze down at Carousel audience members and the model city. 

The opposite side of the upper level was not accessible to guests. Was it used for storage? Did G.E. have a lounge up there? Is that where the maintenance guys took naps? What a large area to not be utilized.

 
Act 5

Father and Mother hosted this Act 5 though audio dialogue only. The couple spoke of the city’s various features and spotlights shined down onto the model accordingly. Parts of the model were mechanically animated. Miniature cars, monorails, and carnival rides moved. (The remaining pieces of the model on display today in Magic Kingdom are not animated).

Walt Disney had recorded his ideas for the city of E.P.C.O.T. in a broadcast only months before New Tomorrowland opened and less than two months prior to his death. Little other exposure to this idea was available to the public at the time. The model city was not a part of the World’s Fair exhibit. 

The Differences between E.P.C.O.T. and Progress City

Progress City as seen in Carousel of Progress represented an actual working city with full-time residents and could have existed anywhere in the United States. E.P.C.O.T. on the other hand was a prototype city intended for the Florida property (which later became Walt Disney World). It would have been the testing grounds and working template after which “Progress Cities” around the world would have been patterned. 

Exit

Guest were asked to exit out doors on the south end of the building near the spot the PeopleMover entered. From there they proceeded in a clockwise direction facing north then down a non-moving outdoor ramp facing south. This ramp is still there today and is used to exit (and occasionally enter) Innoventions.

Relocation to Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World and its Magic Kingdom opened in October of 1971. G.E. felt that their products had been well presented to audiences in California and perhaps audiences in Florida would better enjoy their sponsored show. On September 9, 1973 Disneyland closed the doors to Carousel of Progress. Magic Kingdom built a brand new theater to house the show. This time there were no speed ramp, second level, or Act 5. The theater also rotated counter-clockwise for some reason. Maybe it made better sense to travel in time from left to right?

Somehow (consider it a miracle!) it still operates today and continues to be a nerd-favorite. The Progress City model was hacked into manageable pieces and also relocated to Magic Kingdom. Guests can see see a smaller portion of the model city while riding Magic Kingdom’s PeopleMover.

In a previous post specifically about the Progress City Model we shared just how much of the model was put on display at Magic Kingdom.

Other Rotating Theater Attractions

The Carousel of Progress was presented in two different theme parks and one fair yet it was never duplicated. Two other attractions, however, did use the rotating theater format. America Sings replaced Carousel of Progress at Disneyland.

Meet the World at Tokyo Disneyland used the same format as well. Plans for a Meet the World attraction in the Japan pavilion at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center fell through before the park opened. (Side note: We are currently trying to solve the mysteries around EPCOT Center’s Meet the World and need more info. Was a rotating platform ever built in the large show building behind the Japan pavilion? I have my doubts.)

A Sequel

EPCOT Center’s Horizons (1983-1999) is considered to be the continuation of Carousel of Progress' 20th Century story. In Horizons the family shares their 21st Century lifestyle. Horizons is considered by many to be the greatest theme park attraction ever built or at least the greatest attraction ever torn down.

Carousel of Progress Today

Although you cannot enjoy its sequel, you can still enjoy Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. Acts 1-3 are very similarly to those presented at the World’s Fair and at Disneyland.

Act 4 has been changed a small handful of times. When watching Act 4 today, remember that this version of “tomorrow” is from 1994 and boasts some great mid-90s technology. And sweaters. And Reeboks.

Progress City Model Today

It's wonderful to look at while passing by on a PeopleMover. The model suffers from lack of proper maintenance but nevertheless, it's still there. But please, no flash photography! It looks better under normal show lighting.

A comparison of Magic Kingdom's Carousel of Progress building from 70s and today.

Disneyland's Carousel Theater is still stands and is home to Innoventions. It's not a theater anymore but both lower and upper levels (with a very different configuration) are open to guests.

Working On-set

As a young boy in Magic Kingdom I dreamt of walking around those great Carousel of Progress stages. Some of my fondest moments of my creative career came when I was asked to do a few small projects at the attraction. I was honored to work on some of the animatronic figures, both human and animal, and some of the set work. I painted, repaired, got rid of one of the old “Hidden Mickeys” (my own decision), and adjusted a few things. I remember painting the finger nails on “Father”, fixing a couple of his necks, and painting parts of his four faces.

I even painted the laptop “Mother” is working on.  She had been hitting it with her hand requiring some serious touchup work. I gave a couple of the “Rovers” some help. Of course I spent lots of time wondering around observing every detail, from the hand-painted backdrops to the various "G.E" markings to the animatronic birds on the tree branch. Of course I explored the backsides of each set.

Uncle Orville!

What a delight it was to work with some of the same set pieces presented by Walt Disney to the world all those years ago.

 

Related posts:

Tomorrowland '67 [Part 1]
Tomorrowland
 '67 [Part 2]

Carousel
 of Progress Like You’ve Never Seen It
THEN AND NOW: Walt at Disneyland
EPCOT City Model [Part 1]