Rethinking The Carousel of Progress


The Carousel of Progress was the brainchild of Walt Disney, designed for the 1964 New York World's Fair. It has since made appearances at Disneyland Park in Anaheim and the Magic Kingdom in Florida, where it currently lives. Since its inception, the show has not changed much. For nostalgia buffs, that's not a bad thing. But let's consider Walt's intentions here. During the 1960s, the world was becoming a very, very different place. Check out George Lucas' second film entitled American Graffiti to get a sense for people's mentalities back then. Americans were awakening from post-WWII euphoria to Cold War and Vietnam in the Sixties. I cannot help but think that Walt wanted to preserve this innocence through the Carousel. He wanted to showcase the innovation and industry in the first half of the Twentieth Century for families to "relive" the spirit of bygone eras. Little Johnny got to see how grandpa lived sixty years prior. And that's cool! But, does the Carousel serve the same purpose today? I do not think so. The early 1900s and 1920s probably do not resonate with audiences today. Little Johnny has no familial connection to these eras. By the time the Carousel rolls into the 1940s, an era that might align with grandpa's upbringing, he's fast asleep because he's been sitting in an air-conditioned, dark theater for twenty minutes. Would Walt want that? I guess not. Walt loved the American family, and he wanted them to experience attractions together. That's probably why you don't see the really scary roller coasters at Disney parks. That's also why you don't see child-only attractions like Midget Autopia anymore. It's about doing things together. We need to keep the Carousel relevant for everyone in the family!

So, we potentially do away with Turn of the Century and 1920s. In their place, we could put the 1970s and "tomorrow". The 1970s scene can be jam-packed with telecommunications and computing. We can also backtrack and discuss space exploration and leap forward a bit and showcase the dawn of the world wide web. The "tomorrow" scene should be updated every few years. I'd enjoy seeing a scene featuring quantum computing, renewable energy, personalized healthcare, and "smart" homes.