Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Disney-style!

What better "Father" to celebrate Father's Day with than the one from The Carousel of Progress?!? Today's post shows his progression from the 1964 World's Fair in New York: its stay in Anaheim (1966—1973):

In 1975, the show made a long journey back to the east coast at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and has been entertaining guests there ever since:

For an extremely touching story about The Carousel of Progress, be sure to get a copy of "Four Decades of Magic: Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World," compiled by Chad Denver Emerson. According to one of the stories by Michael Scopa:

WDW Cast member Elizabeth Meyer was working at the Disney Reservation Center and had received an e-mail from Joanne Stolberg-Alger. In the letter Alger talked about her father who was a former executive at General Electric. Apparently, back in the early 1960s when GE and The Walt Disney Company were in the initial stages of putting together their World's Fair venture, Alger's father was approached by the Disney Imagineers and asked if he would serve as the model for the animatronics host for the eventual Carousel of Progress.

He agreed but asked that it be kept a secret. He did not want very many people knowing he was "starring" in the exhibit. After all, wouldn't it be quite an experience to bring his family to the New York World's Fair and surprise them?

His plan was to bring his family to the pavilion on opening day and enjoy seeing their reaction when they saw him, or should I say his animatronics self, on stage. Unfortunately, an illness came on quickly and not only robbed him of this opportunity but also his life as he became deathly ill and passed away at the early age of 40. He had never told anyone in his family of his secret. It was buried along with him and sadly, the family never made it to the New York World's Fair.

However, it was his brother's interest in the New York World's Fair that would lead to the unveiling of this secret. One visit to Progressland was all it took to reveal the secret.

Some 36 years later Joanne Stolberg-Alger visited WDW with her children and found her father sitting center stage at the Carousel of Progress. Unfortunately her 77-year-old mother, Doris Stolberg, had not made the trip but Joanne knew she had to return to Florida with her mother. She knew that there was some unfinished buisness that would require her mother to visit The Magic Kingdom and in particular the Carousel of Progress.

Want to know how it ends? Guess you better get Chad's book (see link below).

These photos from 2010 were shot during my last visit to Orlando:

Father still looks good after all these years, doesn't he?

In home video news, "The Lion King" will released in a 3D version in theaters September 16th, and on Blu-ray & Blu-ray 3D October 4th. Who's a better paternal role model than the brave and just Mufasa? And what's a more heart-warming relationship than the one Simba has with his dad?

To celebrate Father's Day, here are some themed activity sheets:

…and father-son themed film clips:

Simba Wakes Mufasa

Morning Lesson with Mufasa

Simba's Pouncing Lesson

And a special Fatherhood message:

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter. See more Carousel of Progress photos at my regular website.


Heidi Ann said...

Oh, I loved this!! The Carousel Of Progress is one of my favorite attractions ever! I was so happy when I went to WDW and was able to see it again.
"There's a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day...."

Connie Moreno said...

Great post! This has always been one of my favorite attractions and I admit, I cry every time I see it at WDW. (It belongs in Anaheim!)

Major Pepperidge said...

I've always especially liked the scene with Progress City in the background!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see this again when we visit WDW for the first time this Nov. It's been a long time since I've heard that theme song. Does the attraction still have the same voice and music?

TokyoMagic! said...

What everyone else said!!! This was my favorite DL attraction as a child! I wish they would bring it back and restore it to it's original 1967 glory....or even the 1964 NYWF version would be okay with me.

Debbie V., the original theme song was changed when it moved to Florida, but it returned when the attraction was renovated in the early nineties. The voice of the Father changed as well. Instead of Rex Allen, he is now voiced by Jean Shepherd.

JG said...

why why why do they not bring this back to Anaheim?

Unbelievable. I loved this show.


Anonymous said...

What I liked about it, if my distant memories serve me right, was the whole feeling of progress, pride in human endeavors, and optimism for the future. My generation ( class of 1969)grew up reading the Weekly Reader and believing that anything was possible if we diligently worked at it. It's nice to be reminded of those days.