D23 Destination D: The 1964/65 World’s Fair (Part 2)

It’s been a fabulous journey so far at D23’s Destination D Attraction Rewind. Lets continue from part one, and look at the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair.


Carousel of Progress (Imagineer Gary Landrum & Disney Legend Marty Sklar)

“Everything started at Disneyland” -Marty Sklar. The 1957/1958 Disneyland Edison’s Square idea was a foundation for The Carousel of Progress. In these original concepts, the attraction had six rooms with guests that would walk through on tiered platforms. Sam McKim helped in designing the attraction renderings and researched to make sure not one thing was historically inaccurate. He was very picky and loved the details.
Marty remarked on how Walt would often be specifically vague by using the word “things”. While it would make you wonder when listening to him, in a written form it didn’t convey the same emotion and magic. “I always said I’d buy a used car from that man.”
Next Marty took the time to speak about many different people from the early days of WED. Make sure and go listen to Marty tell the many stories on D23’s website. Such a treat.
The Progressland building was designed by Walt’s good friends and neighbor, Welton Becket. A legend of architecture, his firm also worked on the Contemporary and Polynesian resorts, three never built Disney hotels, and the Ford pavilion. GE had the domed roof programmed with a light show. With over 2,000 of their diachronic filters, it was as Gary described, “the illuminations of their day.”
While the current version has the dog acting like a normal dog, Walt’s original vision for it was a gag. The dog would spend the whole show staring at one seat. At one time there was a line after the dog barks at that seat, “Quiet Sport, he may be a customer of General Electric.” How freaky for that one guest!
Watch the progress report video for sponsor GE below that was shown during the presentation. I love the “hidden” logos on their backs 😉

The carousel moved to Disneyland in July of 1967 with a view of Walt’s EPCOT progress city out the window of the final room. GE decided in 1972 they wanted to work with an east coast audience again, causing the carousel’s move to Walt Disney World in 1975.   Changing with the mood of time, the attraction was updated and the Sherman Brothers were asked to pen a new song, “The Best Time of Your Life.” Marty described the new version as “awful”,  and noted that the brothers didn’t feel like the song fit as well. Thankfully it was changed back to the original “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” in 1996.

 It’s a Small World (Tim O’Day and Bill “Sully” Sullivan)

Unfortunately, Alice Davis was unable to attend the conference due to illness, so Tim O’Day took her place for the next session.IMG_0375
Sponsor Pepsi wasn’t receptive to the attraction at first, but board member Joan Crawford made sure it had green light.
Sully Sullivan got a call from Dick Nunis that sent him off to New York for the opening of the fair. He would work nine days on, then two days off. Initially Small World had problems with the loading. While the attraction could have done 3,600, it usually averaged 2,800 per hour. The best hour during the fair served 3,550 guests.IMG_0374
From concept to opening, Small World took 11 months to complete. “Boss said to get it done, and you don’t say no, you get it done.”
Alice Davis made sure each doll had a personality. In a video she said that Mary Blair really wanted the British guards to have bright red hat. Davis told her no because if they were not black, it would mean not accepting that the British won the battle at Waterloo. The Can can girls have long pantaloons because the skin around their knees kept cracking.
It took 48 trucks to move everything back from the fair in New York to California. Some of the scenery still has the shipping labels on them today.
Walt had gold leaf put on the Disneyland facade because he thought it was too plain. Bill ended by saying, “[Walt] was a dreamer and a doer. He knew how to utilize the talents of people. He knew people and that’s what his talent was.”

Lost on the Way to the Fair (Becky Cline)

In 1942 Coke actually asked Disney to make a film called The Magic Touch. It combined Disney’s talent and art with Coca-Cola’s product. It was never made due to World War II. Coke was one of the original Disneyland sponsors. Because of their great relationship, Walt first went to Coke’s sponsorship for World’s Fair. After hearing the pitch for One Nation Under God (The Hall of Presidents), the executives from Coke declined saying it was too emotional.
Coke almost brought the Legends of the Enchanted Island (Tiki Room) to the fair for Disney, but ended up not due to cost issues. Most of the art concepts by Marc Davis and Collin Campbell were miscataloged by WDI as Enchanted Tiki Room. The show included a water curtain, enchanted fountain, tiki drummers, and volcanoes. The waterfalls would draw apart and reveal a bridge from below where guests would exit. Such a shame this attraction never happened.

The day ended with an exclusive peek at the new film Tomorrowland with Supervising Art Director Ramsey Avery. It was absolutely fascinating hearing the stories of filming. I think the key phrase was “But we didn’t have enough money for that.” While it may not be an exact duplicate of the fair due to copy-write or other issues, I believe the film will embody the spirit of what it was like from a child’s eyes.

The Archives exhibit contained many World’s Fair pieces. Loved being able to see parts of the history discussed during day one. IMG_9888IMG_9869IMG_9864IMG_9850 IMG_9861 IMG_9859 IMG_9862IMG_9856IMG_9866IMG_9847IMG_9876 IMG_9872Thanks to the Disney History Institute for sharing their amazing video of the Tower of Four Winds.

IMG_9892 Next time we’ll dive into more Walt Disney World and Disneyland history! Can’t wait to see you there 🙂

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