The Explorium

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. 

       

epcotexplorer:

Carousel of Progress Kaleidoscope 
This 1963 rendering by Claude Coats reveals some of the earliest plans for the Carousel of Progress, Disney’s exhibit for GE at the New York World’s Fair. Most of the form and function from this design remain, with the addition of a larger base and a extension of the sweeping Space Age buttresses that swept up the entire length of the building on the final design. 
What didn’t remain, however, is the vivid use of the color spectrum on the building. Added in to lighten up the rather stark facade, the vibrant swaths of sequential colors would have “faded” into each other as the building rotated, suggesting more kinetic movement for each rotation that the building took. 
The final version of the Carousel theater, instead, had a roof, tiled in color changing lights that would play different patterns and color schemes to achieve the same spinning effect. 

Walt Disney World’s Carousel of Progress, meanwhile, boasted a striped pattern on it’s facade. To allow for the Carousel’s kinetics to really be eye catching, this design would “grow”, as the pavilion rotated, and the stripes would get “thicker” to create a pleasant optical illusion. 

epcotexplorer:

Carousel of Progress Kaleidoscope 


This 1963 rendering by Claude Coats reveals some of the earliest plans for the Carousel of Progress, Disney’s exhibit for GE at the New York World’s Fair. Most of the form and function from this design remain, with the addition of a larger base and a extension of the sweeping Space Age buttresses that swept up the entire length of the building on the final design. 

What didn’t remain, however, is the vivid use of the color spectrum on the building. Added in to lighten up the rather stark facade, the vibrant swaths of sequential colors would have “faded” into each other as the building rotated, suggesting more kinetic movement for each rotation that the building took. 

The final version of the Carousel theater, instead, had a roof, tiled in color changing lights that would play different patterns and color schemes to achieve the same spinning effect. 

image

Walt Disney World’s Carousel of Progress, meanwhile, boasted a striped pattern on it’s facade. To allow for the Carousel’s kinetics to really be eye catching, this design would “grow”, as the pavilion rotated, and the stripes would get “thicker” to create a pleasant optical illusion. 

image

epcotexplorer:

Castle Comparisons - WED’s Way of Measuring Up Fantasy
If you’ve ever wanted to place Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle side by side to compare the scale of the structures, here’s your chance. I know that I’ve been eager to see this for a long while. 
And what better way to do it vis-a-vis WED’s own plans and blueprints? The above schematic is from March 1986 as Disney was preparing to build Euro Disneyland. The park was taking shape in either France or Spain at this point in time- the specifics hadn’t been nailed down yet. Nor had the design of the castle that would grace the new Disneyland across the Atlantic. So, as the imagineers began plotting out what a new European magic kingdom would need, they drew on their past repertoire of construction methods in castle-building. As finally built, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris strikes a happy medium between the two extremes seen above. Slender, graceful, and organic, the third Disneyland castle to stand at the entrance to Fantasyland is a departure from the old-world charm and grandeur of Disneyland’s and Walt Disney World’s castles.
  

epcotexplorer:

Castle Comparisons - WED’s Way of Measuring Up Fantasy

If you’ve ever wanted to place Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle side by side to compare the scale of the structures, here’s your chance. I know that I’ve been eager to see this for a long while. 

And what better way to do it vis-a-vis WED’s own plans and blueprints? The above schematic is from March 1986 as Disney was preparing to build Euro Disneyland. The park was taking shape in either France or Spain at this point in time- the specifics hadn’t been nailed down yet. Nor had the design of the castle that would grace the new Disneyland across the Atlantic. So, as the imagineers began plotting out what a new European magic kingdom would need, they drew on their past repertoire of construction methods in castle-building. As finally built, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris strikes a happy medium between the two extremes seen above. Slender, graceful, and organic, the third Disneyland castle to stand at the entrance to Fantasyland is a departure from the old-world charm and grandeur of Disneyland’s and Walt Disney World’s castles.

  

Castle Comparisons - WED’s Way of Measuring Up Fantasy
If you’ve ever wanted to place Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle side by side to compare the scale of the structures, here’s your chance. I know that I’ve been eager to see this for a long while. 
And what better way to do it vis-a-vis WED’s own plans and blueprints? The above schematic is from March 1986 as Disney was preparing to build Euro Disneyland. The park was taking shape in either France or Spain at this point in time- the specifics hadn’t been nailed down yet. Nor had the design of the castle that would grace the new Disneyland across the Atlantic. So, as the imagineers began plotting out what a new European magic kingdom would need, they drew on their past repertoire of construction methods in castle-building. As finally built, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris strikes a happy medium between the two extremes seen above. Slender, graceful, and organic, the third Disneyland castle to stand at the entrance to Fantasyland is a departure from the old-world charm and grandeur of Disneyland’s and Walt Disney World’s castles.
  

Castle Comparisons - WED’s Way of Measuring Up Fantasy

If you’ve ever wanted to place Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle side by side to compare the scale of the structures, here’s your chance. I know that I’ve been eager to see this for a long while. 

And what better way to do it vis-a-vis WED’s own plans and blueprints? The above schematic is from March 1986 as Disney was preparing to build Euro Disneyland. The park was taking shape in either France or Spain at this point in time- the specifics hadn’t been nailed down yet. Nor had the design of the castle that would grace the new Disneyland across the Atlantic. So, as the imagineers began plotting out what a new European magic kingdom would need, they drew on their past repertoire of construction methods in castle-building. As finally built, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris strikes a happy medium between the two extremes seen above. Slender, graceful, and organic, the third Disneyland castle to stand at the entrance to Fantasyland is a departure from the old-world charm and grandeur of Disneyland’s and Walt Disney World’s castles.

  

Full video of Disney and ABC’s global commemoration of 50 years of ‘it’s a small world’. Complete with video from the Unisphere, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and fireworks over the original attraction in Disneyland, California. 

Although the 50th anniversary isn’t until April 22th, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdoms around the world are marking 50 years of ‘it’s a small world’, today, with a global singalong. 

Although the 50th anniversary isn’t until April 22th, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdoms around the world are marking 50 years of ‘it’s a small world’, today, with a global singalong. 

Thank you. 

Thank you.