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2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

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Published: January 22, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Now is the time. Now is the best time. Now is the best time to profile the Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, the 10th seed in the Best Movie or Animated Show bracket of Theme Park Insider's 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament.

Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

The Carousel of Progress was one of three Disney attractions that debuted not in a Disney theme park, but at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. (The other were Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and It's a Small World, both now playing at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.) In 1975, the show moved to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and now Disney boasts that the show has had "more performances than any other stage show in history."

It's not always been the same show, though. When the show moved from its post-fair home at Disneyland to Walt Disney World, the Sherman Brothers wrote a new theme song for the show, "The Best Time of Your Life (Now is the Time)" replacing their original "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." Rumor had it that the show's sponsor, General Electric, wanted people buying appliances today, not tomorrow. But one also could make a solid case that Disney needed to freshen a show that's been playing at Disneyland for nearly a decade, and also had played on the east coast once before.

In 1994, General Electric bowed out as sponsor, and Disney revamped the show again, return the original "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" theme.

Carousel of Progress remains a visitor favorite, in large due to the Sherman Brothers' songs, not to mention being one of those welcomed cool, dark places to sit on a blistering Florida summer day. As for the show itself, the stages representing the life 1900s, 20s and 40s might have worked for audiences in the mid-60s, but audiences in the 2010s contain too few visitors who have any memory of those times and the sets just don't seem all that different from one another. And the fourth set, "Christmas in 2000," seems almost cringe-worthy as a mid-1990s vision of what life was going to be like 10 years ago.

I mean, 10 years ago from now, or six years in the future from then. (Quick, someone fetch me Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's "Time Traveler's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations.")

Anyway, here's a look at the show:

Any Carousel of Progress fans out there? Haters? Let's hear your thoughts about the show, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Sylvain Comeau on January 22, 2010 at 5:13 PM
I enjoy this show. It's like an AA time capsule of the 20th century.
From James Rao on January 22, 2010 at 5:29 PM
One of my all time favorite Magic Kingdom attractions. While it is definitely showing its age, CoP is a "must do" every time I visit the park. Rumors abound that this attraction will soon become just another monument sitting on display at Epcot, which is a shame. Fun, informative, nostalgic, tremendously dated, but still worth a visit. Catch it while you still can.
From Amanda Jenkins on January 22, 2010 at 6:12 PM
I love this attraction. I loved it as a six year old and still do as a thirty year old. One of the best things about this attraction, is no crowd and fantastic air conditioning. Being able to sit down and relax isn't half bad either.
From Rhys Evans on January 22, 2010 at 7:07 PM
I was glad to see this replaced by "America Sings" at Disneyland (not so glad to see the latter replaced by the a big empty, closed building for 10 or so years followed by mini-Innoventions in there now). I think this one's well past its prime, and should be replaced with something that DOES fit in "Tomorrowland."
From Joshua Counsil on January 22, 2010 at 7:12 PM
The first attraction in this tournament and one of the few attractions that gets a 10-Perfect from me.

Call me sentimental or nostalgic, but I make this a must-stop every time I'm in the Magic Kingdom. It never has a line, which is a shame as it represents the ideal themed show, in my books. Sure, its visions for the future are straight-80s, but that somehow adds to it.

I'm interested to see its competition.

From Ryan Sanford on January 22, 2010 at 10:39 PM
Just a great ride. Classic. Must see every time I visit.
Like Amanda said, no wait at all...
CoP will most likely bring the upset
From Sylvain Comeau on January 23, 2010 at 2:31 AM
By the way, I usually like Robert's write-ups, but it's a bit odd to nominate an attraction, and then do nothing but bash it. What's up with that, Robert?
From James Koehl on January 23, 2010 at 5:48 AM
COP is truely a Classic, one of the few attractions that actually rates a capital "C" in the word. Unfortunately, unless Disney will commit to a yearly update, and not an every decade massive redesign that shuts down an attraction for months, it will always be playing catch-up with the Present passing the Future. They need an Imagineer team dedicated to a continuous monitoring of COP, planing on what to do this year to keep it current.
From Bob Miller on January 23, 2010 at 7:29 AM
Zachary and I both love Carousel of Progress, and always visit it 3 or 4 times each trip. What's that saying
"Forget the past and you're doomed to repeat it" or something like that.

I remember the 50's very well, my mother lived in the 20's and my father lived in the early 1900's. So CoP, is like a trip into my familys' past, and how they lived. And Robert, I'm proud to say I fell in love with CoP, when I first saw it at Disneyland with my wife and her family many years ago. So count me in as one of those old folks who love the show and Zachary as one of the young folks!!!!

From luis gonzalez on January 23, 2010 at 8:15 AM
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..........what a snooze. I havent been on C.o.p in 10 years. In the footprint that this dinosaur leaves in tommorrowland we could put something futuristic. Something thats not a stale old show with creaky animatronics and dated notions of "tommorrow." Instead of adding a new dumbo ride to fantasyland, Disney should have rip this and that crappy tommorrowland speedway out and made something that makes me want to go to magic kingdom.
Sorry baby boomers, but this ride is no longer "the bees knees," its got to go fo sho.

WORD TO YOUR MOTHER!!!!!!!!!

From 78.151.116.142 on January 23, 2010 at 9:36 AM
"Take that you nincompoop"
From Anthony Murphy on January 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM
My most favorite ride at Disney World, period.

I just love the song, history, and animatronics which aren't too shabby.

Something tells me that this will be around for awhile since it is the only "Classic Disney" attraction that WDW has (meaning that Walt Disney actually built and rode).

I love the message and the whole feel goodness of it all. I hope for an update, buts its not too shabby right now. Lets all be a little more positive about this attraction! I would like to see it perhaps moved so that it can stay in place forever. Not sure if its really prime real estate in Tomorrowland. Why not get rid of the stage that is never used?


Theres a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow just a dream away......

From Robert Niles on January 23, 2010 at 1:06 PM
Hey, I love the song. Mostly, I was just trying to set up the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference/joke, which exactly zero people seem to have gotten. Oh well, humor fail, I guess.
From Manny Barron on January 23, 2010 at 2:56 PM
The CoP rocks, period.
From 70.173.45.101 on January 23, 2010 at 5:25 PM
Man, I would've loved to ride this ride in it's prime. It must've been amazing!!! Still is today...
From James Rao on January 23, 2010 at 6:23 PM
Luis, why stop with removing CoP? Sure it is one of the last vestiges of Walt Disney in the Magic Kingdom, but what does it matter when we can have another three minute thrill ride instead? Heck, as part of the Fantasyland refurb why not just get rid of all that family stuff and stick a few uber coasters in the park, rip out any semblance of story and theme, hire more teenagers, serve food McDonald's would be ashamed of, drop the quality and cleanliness of the park by a few degrees, and change the name above "Magic Kingdom" from Walt Disney to Six Flags?

CoP is a unique, entertaining, immersive attraction, without which many of the animatronic adventures everyone loves today would not exist. It is a shame that so many people are too focused on the next three minute thrill to stop and enjoy the classics that inspired an entire generation of theme park enthusiasts.

And for the record, I am GEN X. "Good taste" was not retired circa 1960.

From Ryan Sanford on January 23, 2010 at 7:50 PM
Well put James
From Joshua Counsil on January 23, 2010 at 8:48 PM
PWNED.

I was born in '87, and I love this attraction. Much better than most of the "thrill rides" in the park, like Big Thunder Mountain Failroad.

From Manny Barron on January 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM
I agree with Mr. Rao 100 percent. He's is absolutely right and thats why THEME parks like Disney, Universal, and Sea World always have the higher attendance numbers.
From Bob Miller on January 24, 2010 at 1:12 PM
Thanks James, from someone past the Baby Boomer age! :)
From Carrie Hood on January 24, 2010 at 3:38 PM
Even 21 years after my initial visit (That I at least remember) to Disney World, this is still one of the rides I haul my friends and husband on each and every time we're back down in Florida! I'm always happy some classic "Disney" survived!
From 67.8.63.61 on January 24, 2010 at 5:36 PM
looks like i'm in the minority but i dont like this attraction. i got dragged to it 20 years ago..i didnt like it then..i went to it recently and i still dont care for it.
From rick stevens on January 25, 2010 at 1:16 AM
I always loved the carousel of progress. I remember when it first came to DL. What I miss, and what should be always part of the ride, is the city of the future. I watched the video...loved it...but it should lead to an escalator to a look at what the future might bring. An updated carousel would be great! Bring it into current times. Gone is the home of the future. Maybe the carousel is the way to go.
From Mark Kausch on January 26, 2010 at 2:48 AM
Hey, I think luis is right. It's time to rip out that dinosaur. Put it where it belongs...back where all the other attractions that had Walt's personal stamp on it are. That's right, Disneyland! You other coasters have had it long enough and we (finally) got some peeps out here that knows how to keep stuff in shape!

Oh, and luis, mentioning baby boomers and "the bee's knees" in the same sentence...well, that's just wrong! By several decades. Now, THAT'S outdated.

From James Rao on January 26, 2010 at 4:04 AM
*SIGH*

Kids these days... =)

From Ray Schroeder on January 26, 2010 at 11:32 AM
I love this attraction. I remember seeing in at the '64-65 World's Fair when I was a kid. It was great then and it's still great now. The scene of the future was more intriguing back then than it is now. They need to keep that updated more.
From 72.230.87.74 on January 27, 2010 at 2:56 PM
Carousel of Progress is the first ride my 13 year old daughter wants to do when we visit Disneyworld. I don't know what her fascination is I don't have anything against the ride except that the song gets stuck in your head for the rest of your trip, but she loves it and when we read a couple years ago that they were going to take it out of Magic Kingdom and put it in the Smithsonian she wanted to start a petition to stop it she actually cried over it. She has been going to Disney since she was 2 and if they ever get rid of this ride I will probably have to take her for counseling. Haha

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