A visit to the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland isn’t complete without a slow spin through the decades on Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. In continuous operation in some form since 1964, this attraction showcases an American family experiencing innovations through the past century in a humorous fashion. As the theater slowly revolves through each scene, the father of the family offers his point of view on how technology has changed his family’s way of life. I always find fun new details every time I visit this attraction, and it’s always on my Must-Do list. Check out my other reasons why Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a really cool part of the Magic Kingdom experience.
1. A true original.
Guests visiting the Carousel get to experience a classic Walt Disney attraction and a representation of Walt Disney’s vision of progress and of the future, mixed with a scoop of nostalgia of American life. When the 1964-1965 World’s Fair opened in New York, Walt Disney made sure his Carousel of Progress was the focus of the General Electric exhibit. Disney’s Wonderful World of Color let television audiences at home see a glimpse of this amazing new attraction in 1964. Disneyland became the new home of the attraction in 1967. Lucky visitors to Walt Disney World finally were able to experience it in 1975. While the Carousel has experienced many renovations since its debut in Walt Disney World, I think Walt would be very satisfied knowing that one of his original creations still lives on and delights guests of all ages.
2. A catchy tune.
“There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” is the theme song for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and it plays as each scene changes throughout the attraction, emphasizing the concept of progress. The tune was first created for the World’s Fair by the infamous Sherman Brothers and stayed in place when the attraction premiered at Disneyland. When the Carousel opened at Walt Disney World, “The Best Time of Your Life” became the new melody. The memorable original jingle returned in 1996 when the attraction was updated, and guests have left the theater singing this song ever since.
3. Relax and refresh.
With its 21-minute show in a darkened air-conditioned theater, this is a great spot to rest your feet, get cooled off from the heat or get out of the rain, and prepare to be entertained!
4. Historical details.
I love trying to catch all of the details in each scene that give it a specific place in history. The spring scene takes place in the 1890s, and the audience is clued in by the water pump in the kitchen, a cast-iron stove, and an icebox. The father mentions the Wright Brothers and Tom Edison being in the news. The summer scene is set in the 1920s, and signs of this might be the change to the electric appliances and the mention of Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and the new popularity of jazz music. The autumn scene progresses to the 1940s, and the audience can see the switch to linoleum in the kitchen, the dishwasher, and bright paint colors throughout the room. The final act is a holiday scene in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Guests will pick up on the clothing fashions that the family is wearing, the laptop computer, and the virtual reality video game.
5. Meet the family.
A typical American family (that happens to be Audio-Animatronic!) guides guests though the changes in their lives. John is the father and narrator who ages remarkably well through the years. His wife, Sarah, can occasionally be seen from the corner of the stage to voice her opinion on the new technology in their lives, sometimes with comic results. Daughter Patricia and son Jimmy also make appearances from behind a transparent background, as well as Uncle Orville. In the final scene, Grandma and Grandpa celebrate Christmas with the family. A friendly dog completes the family, although the dog’s name has changed several times over the years.
6. No FastPass Required.
A great part of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is little to no wait time. Six individual theaters cycle through the scenes, and guests are usually able to walk right on or only have a short wait.
7. A famous voice.
Do you recognize the father’s voice? It’s none other than Jean Shepherd, the narrator of the movie “A Christmas Story. Uncle Orville is voiced by Mel Blanc, who is also the voice of Bugs Bunny.
8. Hidden Mickeys.
Keep a sharp eye out for all of the fantastic Hidden Mickeys in this attraction. Some of my favorites include Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat next to Patricia’s exercise machine in the third scene, and a Mickey nutcracker on the mantle in the Christmas scene. Check out the plush Mickey under the Christmas tree too! Look for the pepper grinder on the kitchen counter that sports Mickey ears as well.