LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Forty years after its debut in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress remains one of the most endearing rides.
The theater in the round depicts how technology and innovation has shaped the American family from the turn of the century until today. It also provides one of the few tangible links at Walt Disney World to Disney himself.
The ride debuted as part of the General Electric (GE) Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Following its run in New York, the show was relocated to Disneyland in California, where it operated from 1967 until 1973.
The attraction opened in Walt Disney World on Jan. 15, 1975. The show claims the title of longest-running show in the history of American theater.
Though it’s faced years of rumors about an uncertain future, the show has remained a mainstay among Disney fans. It’s featured a pair of theme songs (“There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” and “Now is the Time”) written by the best in the business: the Sherman Brothers.
The show has outlasted other venerable Tomorrowland attractions such as Mission to Mars, If You Had Wings and The Timekeeper.
It first opened in a Tomorrowland focused on space travel and exploration. It’s today a cornerstone of a future that never was in a land that’s seemingly lost its inspiration.
It opened the same day as another of the all-time great Disney attractions: Space Mountain. Unlike Space Mountain, the Carousel of Progress was never an E Ticket attraction and over the years has suffered the indignity of serving as a seasonal attraction.
How long the Carousel will keep spinning is anyone’s guess. To close it would be a shame, but Disney has closed much more popular attractions in the past.
Yes, the show could use an upgrade. The final scene is dated, to be certain. But, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is one of the all time landmark attractions, even if it contains no loops, barely has a line and doesn’t require FastPass.