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November 16, 2013

Magic Kingdom - Carousel of Progress



Walt's crowning jewel - the feather in his cap - is arguably the Carousel of Progress. For those of us who consider ourselves Walt-loyalists, CoP is something that ignites extreme passion and fierce defense. Consider that your warning, as I may go off on a personal tangent somewhere in this entry.



Carousel of Progress actually debuted well before Walt Disney World opened - even before Walt's death. In fact, it was unveiled at the 1964 World's Fair in New York as part of GE's Progressland exhibit. Instant popularity swirled around the attraction, and Walt was known to hold a very personal attachment and pride for CoP. It was no surprise that it would find a home within the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland. After the World's Fair, CoP spend some time at Disneyland in California before making its way to Orlando in 1975.
The Carousel of Progress is a rotating theater with multiple stage scenes. The seated audience moves from scene to scene, chronologically, on a 20 minute exploration of progress and advancement. We meet the members of a charming, average family (in audio-animatronic form) in each scene, as they take us from the turn of the 20th century to modern times with tales and demonstrations of their everyday life. We may not be able to easily relate to a time when electricity was new, or phonographs were all the rage... and most of us never had a rumpus room, but CoP helps us spoiled modern folks realize how easy we have it, and how far we've come!

Unfortunately, I've run into a few people who demonstrate the problem with CoP... we simply don't have the same hunger or respect for history, knowledge and culture as we once did. In other words - it seems that too many people need that quick, immediate thrilling rush of frenzied fun, and have no place for the slower pace, enlightening creations of brilliant minds. Hmm... maybe that came out wrong, but then again, maybe it didn't. CoP is one of the few WDW attractions that runs on a "seasonal" basis. What this means is... if crowds are high, it'll be open. On slower days, CoP may never open its doors. There never seems to be much of a wait here either, so that's a perk. As much as I am galled by the number of people that simply ignore this attraction, I find a little peace with the belief that they wouldn't dare take this one away altogether. What a slap in the face that would be to Walt, indeed!! Then again... I suppose that doesn't make it safe for certain! After all - honoring Walt hasn't been the top priority of the company in quite some time.



Keep in mind when you visit CoP - this is an old attraction with little change since its creation. Can you imagine how advanced and impressive this entire show and all of its components must have been in 1964? Perhaps you were even there, and you know firsthand! The technology, and the demonstration of our future expectations were ground-breaking. Today, it's just as impressive and inspiring, but for somewhat different reasons. While the final scene is more like our recent past than our future, it's still amusing to see virtual reality grandma! The soundtrack will embed itself in your head (which I personally enjoy, but others may want a mental cleansing), the characters will endear themselves to your family (especially Rover), you'll get a chuckle or three, and if you're observant, you just may learn a thing or two. SO... commit to doing something unique - devote some time to something that doesn't involve a restraint bar. Visit the Carousel of Progress next time you're at WDW.



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