How to begin. Well, fifty years ago Walt Disney and his team created some outstanding attractions for the General Electric (GE) Pavilion for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. One seems to get all the love in ‘It’s a Small World’. Now mind you, it is a wonderful song, a Disney theme and icon attraction. But many forget Walt created other attractions that equally have a place in our hearts. From Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln to one of my personal favorites, The Carousel of Progress.
The Carousel of Progress takes you through a journey of time, from the turn of the century, through the latest in technology and advancements. The show made it’s way from the World’s Fair to Disneyland from 1967 through 1973. At that time it was then removed and was replaced by America Sings in 1974. But the show was not gone for good. It was relocated to Walt Disney World in the Magic Kingdom and opened in 1975, just one year before this author was born and on his way to his first trip to the park.
“Fact: The Carousel of Progress holds the record as the longest-running stage show with the most performances in the history of American Theater and is one of the ONLY attractions at Walt Disney World that had been touched by Walt himself”
Over the years the show has changed and made way to be upgraded with the current trends and times for the final scenes. We grew to love Rex Allen as Father, with his warm voice and fatherly feel to it that we all could relate to. The song by Disney’s top writers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman went on to live in Disney lore as a fan favorite. It was a segway track that evolved with the show in between scenes as the acts bridged into the next. “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” has become a Disney staple since. IT was even featured in the Disney film ‘Meet the Robinsons.’ It has been said that the writing team said the song does encompass Walt and his being optimistic and excited about the future.
Now as much as I do love that version of the show, the Sherman Brothers also wrote another theme song when the show changed sponsors in the mid 1980s. This song I still personally love. It encompassed the here and now, the get up and take action in creating the future. What was that song that replaced ‘Great Big’? Well it was “Now is the Time,” but also known by the title “The Best Time Of Your Life.”
Time has passed, and many things evolve in time. The show changed, and people have changed. But one thing remains, a love of the Carousel of Progress. Even though the show has changed over time, went back to the original theme song, and is only open from time to time for park guests to enjoy, it is a true gem. It is one that SHOULD NOT be looked over when at the Magic Kingdom, and one that should remain as a part of Walt to stay in the park.
So while everyone will be sure to celebrate It’s Small World, and yes, we love it here too, let’s not forget that there is a ‘Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow’ that has endured for 50 years as well.