The Explorium
Happy 25th Anniversary to the Hollywood that never was and always shall be. 

Happy 25th Anniversary to the Hollywood that never was and always shall be. 

Tenor, Baritone, and Bass:
Ever wonder about the choral arrangement in the Enchanted Tiki Room? 
Thanks to Marc Davis’ concept art, now you don’t have to. 

Tenor, Baritone, and Bass:

Ever wonder about the choral arrangement in the Enchanted Tiki Room? 

Thanks to Marc Davis’ concept art, now you don’t have to. 

epcotexplorer:

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. 

       

Disney - Music to Buy Toasters By
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epcotexplorer:

Music To Buy Toasters By 

Yes, that is the title of this piece, and it comes to us from the 1960’s and Disney’s involvement at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. 

And although it is a corny title, for what I think is a particularly good example of music, the title IS evocative of General Electric’s motive at the World’s Fair with the Carousel of Progress. The Carousel of Progress was set up inside the  much larger Progressland Pavilion, and was not only an entertainment venue, but a venue for exhibition and a showcase for all of GE’s products. The World’s Fair never dissuaded the aspects of it that made it part trade show, part international exhibition. In fact, it readily embraced it, and most advertisements and centered around the product placement and advertising of the wares for sale and on display in the corporate pavilions. GE, in particular, had an area of Progressland called Medallion City in which guests could stroll through and attend seminars that featured all the new appliances and tools they had just seen in the Carousel Theater. 

But the music itself is subtle, lilting, melodic, and relaxing. Setting a wonderful mood for the Progressland Pavilion, it is not hard to imagine this playing through the speakers as queues of smartly dressed 60’s fairgoers exited the “Carousel Theater” and took in the sights and sounds of the industrial and sleek future of 1964. 

And on a personal note, I want this theme to serve as the background music to my life. 

epcotexplorer:

Pictures of Progressland – The Artistry of Corporate Showmanship

Out of all the pavilions that Walt Disney exuded influence over for the New York World’s Fair of 1964, the one that bares the greatest hallmark of Walt’s personal touch is General Electric’s Progressland. The star of the show was the Carousel Theater of Progress, a depiction of suburban life throughout the 20th century and how appliances and the electric age influenced how the typical American family lived, worked, and played in a quickly changing and dynamic time.   As a matter of the happenstance, the General Electric exhibition was also the one pavilion that reflected the true nature of the New York World’s Fair- part trade show, part international summit, all parts space age optimism wrapped up in the flash and glamour of striking googie architecture and corporate might. Of course, to any student of theme park history, this will sound familiar, with the earliest iterations of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center both reflecting optimistic, corporately branded futurism.

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Progressland, being no different, was driven by General Electric’s desire to exhibit their product and industrial roles in a commercial and public light. As most corporate entities at the fair did, they signed on specific design firms to create their thematic exhibits. General Electric chose Walt Disney’s WED Enterprises to lead such an effort and their final product remains, to this day, one of the most beloved and long running theme park attractions left from this point in time. The Carousel of Progress still spins happily along in Disney World’s Tomorrowland, even if the 21st century has caught up with it and its thematic background drastically altered. But, this is only one part of the Progressland Pavilion that originally graced the shores of Flushing Meadows’ Pool of Industry. In 1964, Disney had designed a whole series of ancillary attractions for the pavilion, attractions that would have accompanied the carousel’s message of industry and optimism,  and would have represented GE’s full breadth of services and appliances. In media, today, these attractions rarely are discussed, and even by fairgoers were relegated to the back seat, when compared to the audio animatronic laden rotating theater show. However, they bear interesting insight to the nature of the World’s Fair of 1964 and prove to even be a object of longing for some theme park fans, today. For those of us that enjoy EPCOT Center and the thematic showmanship of specific industries and trades, Progressland and her Medallion City, her SkyDome Spectacular, and her Nuclear Fusion Demonstration will be very redolent of the shows we’ve lost along the wayside in places such as CommuniCore, Spaceship Earth, and the World of Motion. The concept is very much the same- a multilateral company hiring Disney to design and showcase their commercial triumphs and endeavors. What follows is a rare and in depth look at the Progressland pavilion and its intents, aesthetics, and exhibits.

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While I won’t go into the details of the 1964 iteration of the Carousel of Progress, as that’s been assessed and documented with descriptive powers far better than my own, I would like to point out the aesthetics and details that the rotating theater cars had. What you see here is a Kaleidoscope Screen, reflective glass and plastic that lined the walls of the pavilion’s theaters. During the introduction to the Carousel of Progress, these lights would flash and glow in sequence to the narrator’s voice and the iconic music of the pavilion.

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The carousel theater show, from then on out, progressed in a manner very much akin to the experience you can still find in the Vacation Kingdom, today. When the show ended, though, guests were lead up to the second level of a pavilion by a speed ramp that was connected directly to the theater, and in place of the stage.  This unique feature of the 1964 carousel only existed in the first two versions of the show, and streamlined the entire experience. Also, the visceral experience of “walking forward” and “springing up out of your seats to meet the future” help crystalize the optimistic sand hopeful message and imagery of the presentation. The speed ramp was quite the sight, too. Clad in mirrors and brushed metallic trappings, the entire corridor was a spectacle of light and luminosity.  Images of GE engineers and scientists were projected onto the walls and mirrors and had the effect of floating in space. Much of the focus of this imagry is on energy technology and industry, the theme of next show.   Disney dubbed this area a “Time Tunnel”, one that transported you from the present to the far-flung, but foreseeable future.

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Once guests exited the tunnel, they were deposited in the second part of the Progressland show: The SkyDome Spectacular and Fusion Demonstration, prefaced by another corridor of mirrors and informational plaques detailing GE’s work on electrical energy and new technologies with fuel cells, thermionic conversion, and magnetohydronamics. After a short wait, guests entered the SkyDome, and, at the time, the world’s largest projection screen on the interior of General Electric’s iconic domed pavilion. With terraced viewing, guests were shown the history and adventure surrounding man’s struggle to temper nature and making fire serve civilization on a 200-foot screen in the round. Dramatic lighting and projections highlighted both topic and theme. Once the show ended, guests descended from the top level of the pavilion to see the actual technologies described to them in use.

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Considered the climax of the Progressland experience, the Fusion Demonstration beneath the domed screen and in another, smaller, theater in the round. Standing on a plinth was a large quartz tube, with control panels and displays detailing the process of fusion that would be attempted. After a countdown, brilliant flashes of light and a loud, popping, crack would signify that GE was successful in tapping into the nuclear science of sun building. Billed as a first public demonstration of fusion, this feat took place every 4-6 minutes. Clerical workers that staffed the pavilion soon grew accustomed to the loud explosions emanating from the dome, according to memoirs and recollections many years after Progressland had closed and moved to Disneyland.

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Finally, guests would make their way into Medallion City, back on the first level of Progressland. The city was named for the “Total Electric Award” medal that GE popularized for its products. Widely considered to be the post show of the pavilion, this was the main exhibition hall for General Electric and was a stylized city with buildings dedicated to each of the company’s initiatives and appliances. Among the topics showcased were beauty and comfort products, business and industrial solutions, and even a town hall and hospital featuring the latest in electrical ingenuity. Fully airconditioned and comfortable, Medallion City was very much the showroom for GE and guests could even place mail orders for the products they had seen in the Carousel Theater, and now, in person, and in use. The idea of allowing guests browse a “city of the future” certainly wasn’t new to the World’s Fair, either. General Motor’s Futurama at both the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fair exhibited an “Avenue of Progress” in which guests would see their automobiles on display. Ford’s Wonder Rotunda, another Disney creation, also showed off automobiles to their guests. This degree of cooperate was the widely accepted modus operandi of the fair, and this style was replicated, much later, in EPCOT Center.

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In summary, the Carousel of Progress’ charm and place in thematic history reaches far beyond the carousel theater show that we still have, today. In part, it is the base of the experience, and the most memorable. But the entire Progressland Pavilion was a thematic bastion of industrial artistry and extravagance.  Corporate and commercial advertisement? Yes. But it left a lasting mark in the minds of those who saw it and were inspired by the spirit of progress and optimism the pavilion fostered. The art of corporate showmanship hasn’t changed much, since the days of international exhibitions and World’s Fairs. 

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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. 

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