50 YEARS OF PROGRESS
Today, 50 years ago, the New York World’s Fair of 1964 opened its gates and dazzled the world with an array of experiences and exhibits that encapsulated not only the zenith for themed exhibitions, but the frenetic culture of America in the 1960s.
Imbued with a sense of optimism, technical artistry, and corporate might, the 1964 World’s Fair remains as a watershed moment for pinpointing our place in the 20th century’s politics and scientific achievements.
There is a sense of history about the fair for the story of Disney, too. Four Disney designed attractions debuted on April 22: it’s a small world, GE’s Progressland pavilion, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and Ford’s Magic SkyWay.
it’s a small world has enjoyed 50 years of operation, at all 5 Disney resorts around the world. Mary Blair’s iconic style is now synonymous with Disney’s name and is a hallmark of the warm and evocative spirit that Disney seeks to further. The Sherman brother’s prayer for peace is now an anthem sung around the world.
The Carousel of Progress still spins on in the Magic Kingdom, a touchstone for the values and mainstays of Walt Disney’s personal touch and legacy. The Carousel of Progress’ influence in EPCOT’s Future World remains readily apparent and relevant.
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln enjoys a place of prominence on Disneyland’s Main Street, USA, boasting patriotic pathos and a tie to both the thematic and the historical past of the United States.
And, the Magic SkyWay, though not totally intact, still has vestiges of its grandeur in the Primeval World along the Disneyland Railroad and EPCOT’s Universe of Energy.
But, what is really remarkable about the New York World’s Fair is how much it altered things for Walt Disney and WED Enterprises. It was at the 1964 Fair that Walt Disney began to see the possibility for an ‘East Coast Disneyland’, sparking the development of what would become Walt Disney World. And in turn, EPCOT City, the centerpiece of the Florida Project was borne out of the corporate and industrial alliances that the Disney organization made at the World’s Fair. Beyond the expansion of property and venue, though, the technology at the World’s Fair advanced Disney’s thematic prowess. Full size Audio Animatronics came into prominence in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Carousel of Progress. The flume used in it’s a small world was seen as a viable conveyance for use in Pirates of the Caribbean. And Ford’s SkyWay was the precursor to the Peoplemover and the Omnimover systems. In the course of two to three years, Disney’s involvement in the New York World’s Fair had set them on an astronomical trajectory to new heights of art and illusion.
Happy 50th, New York World’s Fair.
Throughout the day, I’ll be reblogging and uploading some of my favorite posts on the NYWF and it’s accomplishments. Stay tuned.