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Entries in Tomorrowland 67 (4)

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] 

 

Friday
Aug312012

Tomorrowland '67 [Part 2]

In this part of our Tomorrowland '67 series we break down each attraction into different categories. We learn just how affordable Disneyland was for Southern Californians at the time and we see how long this great Disneyland expansion really lasted.

New Tomorrowland opened on July 2, 1967. Most of the previous Tomorrowland structures had been entirely demolished to make way for new or improved attractions. It cost more than $20 million. Remember, just twelve years earlier all of Disneyland cost about $17 million.

Let’s go see what’s new at Disneyland!

You’ve gone through Tomorowland withdrawals for long enough. It’s 1967 and it’s summertime. With Tomorrowland closed all this time you’ve only celebrated the past while visiting Disneyland’s three other lands (plus Main Street). You are ready to once again celebrate the future. You are eager for new rides.

Fill up your family car for $0.30 a gallon and head over to Disneyland. Take a tram over to one of the outer ticket booths and pull out $20. That’s plenty for everyone in your family of four. Better get the 15-ride ticket book just in case. Ticket books in the summer of 1967 cost between $3.50 and $5.50 depending on age and how many tickets you wanted. This included the price admission. If everyone happens to want to ride a couple additional big rides, E-tickets are only $0.75 at the various ticket booths inside the park. Individual D-tickets are only $0.60 each. C-tickets are $0.35, B-tickets $0.25, and A-tickets are only $0.10.

Southern Californians and Disneyland in the 1960s

All my grandparents and both my parents lived in California in the 60s (and beyond). Both sides of the family, though they didn’t know each other yet, had similar Disneyland-related traditions. I imagine most Southern Californians had similar experiences. My family would visit Disneyland every time someone came from out of town to visit. They would keep a shoe box of partially-used ticket books handy for themselves and their guests to use. When no one was visiting, they could pay between $0.75 and $3.00 per person for admission then use the tickets from the shoe box. Did my family, relatives, or their guests take lots of photos and film their many experiences?? Nope. It torments me every time I think of it.

Not my family.

A Review of the Timeline

Let's go over the custom timeline we've created above. 

On the far left in gray we see a number of attractions that closed in 1966. The Space Bar was a food location but we've included it to show what occupied the location before Carousel of Progress. To the right of those we see in teal everything that was new to New Tomorrowland. Some of these were not entirely new experiences but they were presented as "new" with good reason. Later in this post we explain why. Below those we see in dark green a number of pre-1967 things that stuck around during and after all 1967 changes. You can see that the House of the Future only overlaps New Tomorrowland for a few months. Were my family member at the park during this precious narrow sliver of time? Probably. Do they remember? No. I wasn't born yet and therefore was unable to be there myself. Thanks, Gorillas, for this photo that lets us pretend we were there for what appears to be the last days of the House of the Future.

Anyway, back to the timeline. The light brown color represents the many attractions that took place between New Tomorrowland and the current Tomorrowland. Some of these were fantastic. Like America Sings! I remember you. You'll notice changes in the mid-90s and especially in 1998 when Tomorrowland's next huge makeover took place. Then come the early 2000s.... Finally I draw your attention to the darker brown color and everything else on the far right. Today we have less gaps than a decade ago. Our beloved subs are traveling deep into the ocean's caves once again. (Yes, I know what you are thinking, but at least you can still climb down those cool metal stairs and watch bubbles rise past your porthole window as you prepare to ride through liquid space. It's better than a lagoon filled with dirt, I tells ya.) And as for the PeopleMover track, I mean the Rocket Rods track (with its center tubular steal thing that PeopleMovers didn't have), it's still standing. And Imagineering reports that it's constantly on their minds. Somehow state safety regulations are getting in the way.


What Happened in Tomorrowland in 1966/67 specifically?

2 entirely new attractions were added:

PeopleMover
Adventure Thru Inner Space

1 attraction was brought in from outside the park:
Carousel of Progress 

3 attractions were improved and renamed:
Rocket to the Moon became Flight to the Moon
Astro Jets became Rocket Jets
Circarama, U.S.A. became Circle-Vision 360° 

1 attraction was to be moved and improved but this never happened:
Flying Saucers were to be build under Space Mountain

1 major attraction was planned but was not built until years later:
Space Port (later named Space Mountain)

2 new stages were built:
Tomorrowland Stage
Tomorrowland Terrace Stage

6 previously-built attractions remained:
House of the Future
Tomorrowland Autopia
Skyway to Fantasyland
Matterhorn Bobsleds
Monorail
Submarine Voyage Thru Inner Space

It’s true, only two entirely new attractions were built for this new land. They were both steady, slow, offered great scenery, and people LOVED them. The PeopleMover and Adventure Thru Inner Space were very popular and still remain a couple of the most-missed Disney rides of all time. The PeopleMover was Disneyland’s fourth way to see a large portion of the park while riding a ride. The Railroad, Skyway, and Monorail also offered views of multiple parts of Disneyland.

Adventure Thru Inner Space was Tomorrowland’s first dark ride and boasted the world’s first Omnimover ride system. The Haunted Mansion with its black “Doom Buggies” normally claims the lion’s share of Omnimover discussions but Inner Space and its blue “Atom Mobiles” opened first. 

Carousel of Progress was new to Disneyland and new to everyone who didn’t make it to New York for the World’s Fair. Plus it was housed in a new building with an upper-level exhibit that the World’s Fair didn’t have. 

Three previously-existing attractions got major facelifts and new names. Rocket to the Moon’s two domed theaters and its curvy building were removed and a new building with a similar layout was built in its place. The ride was enhanced with an animatronic preshow and the ride itself offered new effects. The Astro Jets were removed and a similar spinner ride was built further to the south. This time the rocket ride was all the more fun because of the heights you could reach. It was built on top of the new PeopleMover station. Circarama, U.S.A. was renamed Circle-Vision 360° and got a larger building and better movie projection technology. This time the circular theater was made up of nine screens instead of twelve.

What’s this about an attraction that was supposed to be moved and improved but never happened? Well.... Plans were made for Flying Saucers to be built under what was going to be Space Mountain. The Flying Saucers ride was a part of Tomorrowland for years and was located where Magic Eye Theater (Captain E.O.) and Space Mountain are today. Blueprints show a smaller similarly shaped ride layout further south (refer to our map in Part 1). Hmm. It could be a gift shop for all I know. More on this in later posts.


One major attraction was planned but not built and there are two major reasons for this. Space Port/Space Mountain was a dream of Walt but high costs and a lack of technology required Space Mountain to be delayed.

As it turns out Space Mountain was built first in Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom.

Two new stages were built to liven up the land’s atmosphere with live musical performances. And a very very special broadcast a couple years later.

Six attractions (five of which were rides) remained. Monsanto’s House of the Future (not a ride) had great view of the New Tomorrowland opening celebration but didn’t live to see the new year of 1968. The Skyway was given a new tower. The new tower was an extension of the Carousel of Progress building which happened to be built right next to the old tower . Tomorrowland Autopia, Matterhorn, and Submarine Voyage enjoyed beautiful new surroundings yet experienced few changes themselves as part of New Tomorrowland. 

 

What a great land it turned out to be. One of the most remarkable themed lands built up to that point. Perhaps the greatest. Disney and More provides this wonderful photo of Muhammad Ali strolling through the north side of New Tomorrowland.

Next time we begin diving into each New Tomorrowland attraction. In our next post we will look at a fan-favorite and its amazing journey. It might be the only Disney attraction to operate in three different parks. You know what I’m talking about...... Walt Disney’s own Carousel of Progress.

 

Related posts:

Tomorrowland '67 [Part 1]
National Geographic Aug '63 [Part 2]
Not Having Fun at Disneyland
New Fantasyland 1983