April 16, 2014

Why I Can’t Go On Disney’s Carousel of Progress Again


 Carousel of Progress

One of the iconic attractions at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, the Carousel of Progress takes you through the 20th century to see how technology changes and improves our lives. It’s one of my most favorite non-ride attractions (yes, I do  have to get that specific) at Magic Kingdom. It debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York then was moved to Disneyland until 1973. I never saw it there but always heard about it. It was replaced by another of my favorites, America Sings.

Anyway, never having been on Carousel of Progress when I finally went to Walt Disney World in 2007 it was top of my list. Going in August, I knew CycleGuy and BabyGirl wouldn’t mind getting out of the heat for about 20 minutes. It was a truly magical experience the first time we all loaded into the theater. Neither CycleGuy nor BabyGirl knew much about it, other than it was one of the goofy things I thought was awesome.

Every time we’ve been at Magic Kingdom, Carousel of Progress is always on the touring plan. Sometimes twice if I’m waiting for them to go through Space Mountain for the 93rd time that day. And, for the most part, both CycleGuy and BabyGirl indulged me and went with me even though I would sing along. (note: I don’t sing along if other people are in the theater, but usually that’s not an issue)

If you’ve never been on the Carousel of Progress, you’re missing out! It’s a 21-minute show about technology in the home and how it changed over the 20th century. Sounds cool, right. Well, except that it was made in the early 60s so the “future” part is a bit hokey to some degree. This is said to be one of Walt’s favorite attractions. You can tell he was greatly involved with it by the animatronics, the music, and the idea about technology in the future.

So, why won’t I visit it even though it’s one of my favorite parts of Disney? Let me ask you this. Have you ever gone to Disney and got stuck on a ride? A lot of people have. I’ve been stuck on Space Mountain so many times it’s not even funny (although I do like the old seats better than the new ones). When Disneyland had the Skyway (yet, those colorful buckets in the sky) I spent many an hour with a bird’s-eye view of the park. (I wish I had a cell phone then!) Name the ride at Disneyland and I’ve probably be stuck on it. Not so much at Walt Disney World, but then I’ve only been there about 8 times.

Anyway, if there’s one attraction you don’t want to get stuck on it’s Carousel of Progress. Trust me! See, in Carousel of Progress there is a song that plays at the beginning, the end, and as each decade progresses. Sounds simple, right? And it’s a fun song written by the Award-winning Sherman brothers. “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” is a fun little ditty that you’ll easily sing along with. That is, you’ll probably only sing along with it about the first 50 times you hear it played in a row.

There we were, with about 5 or 6 other guests, in the Carousel of Progress theater enjoying listening to Father (John, voiced by legendary Country singer Jean Shepherd) and waiting for the special treat when Cousin Orville shows up (he’s voiced by the truly legendary Mel Blanc!) when there was an abrupt stop. We were stuck! And, like most Disney attractions there is a protocol and you don’t just get up and leave. For Carousel of Progress, there’s an issue with the doors since the entire theater rotates. The cast members needed to realign the doors so we could exit safely.

So we sat there. Sure it was nice and cool and dark. A welcomed respite from the heat and humidity of an Orlando summer day. And we waited patiently, while the soundtrack played through and finished. Then it started again. There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. All 21-minutes of the show, for the second time. Only this time we’re just sitting there in the dim theater. Then it started again. For the third time. And the fourth. And the fifth.

If you’re counting, that’s 21-minutes of a show listened to five consecutive times. You don’t need to be a math wizard to realize that’s a lot of great big beautiful tomorrows. I think CycleGuy and BabyGirl fell asleep. I know the other family that was in there did. While the cast members were great and kept working to reset the doors, they too were probably getting tired of hearing the song. And they work there and listen to it over and over again, everyday!

With a heave-ho, some Disney magic, a little help from some walkie-talkie’d cast members outside, we were soon escorted out into our own great big beautiful … day. There were no free fastpasses, no complimentary snacks, or a “See you soon!”. No, we were ushered out with a “Thanks for being patient!” And honestly, by that point, that’s all we wanted. There are only so many great big beautiful tomorrows you can hear sung about.

As each year has greeted us with plans to visit Walt Disney World again, I’m gently reminded that we’re not going on Carousel of Progress. So while I truly love this attraction, I think even Walt would give me a pass for a few years.

Are there any rides you just won’t go on any more?



Cycleguy April 16, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Hey there is one part you may have left out. Our home alarm was triggered ALSO right when the ride was stuck so in the beginning it was crazy, then it took forever, and yes I may have dozed off a little…

Triplezmom April 18, 2014 at 10:48 am

I think I went on that one as a kid, but not since. For some reason, Space Mountain just terrifies me. I don’t think I’ll go on it again if I can avoid it.

Sara May 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

Triplezmom, thank you for visiting from Type-A-Parent. Splash Mountain definitely isn’t for everyone. It looks like a totally harmless ride but that drop … it’s definitely a doozy! Fortunately, there are so many other rides and attractions that if you skip Splash Mountain you’re not missing out on any fun.

Susan Maccarelli April 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Oh my gosh – that is one of my favorite rides there too, but the thought of listening to it repeatedly is just one note shy of being stuck on ‘It’s a Small World”. I am glad you escaped!

Sara May 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

Susan, yes, escaped. That’s a perfect word! I’ve never been stuck on ISAW but I think I’ve done my time with this one.

Beth @ TheAngelForever April 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I have been stuck on Splash Mountain one too many times. The first time was for quite a while on the upper hill toward the top. It was dark and my son was so scared. Once we got moving we got stuck several more times. I can not imagine being trapped listening to that “fun” song like you were.

Sara May 10, 2014 at 10:37 am

Beth, thank you for stopping by. I’ve been stopped on Splash Mountain twice. Once was after the drop by the water cannon. That’s when I figured out what triggers the cannon to soak the boat that’s just dropped and is heading back up. Let’s just say I could have been soaked after that 20 minute wait.

Liz April 19, 2014 at 6:32 am

Ooh, I remember that “ride.” Remember the Eastern Airlines one “If you had wings”? My sister and I loved the one for some reason.

Sara May 10, 2014 at 10:35 am

Liz, Disneyland didn’t have the “If you had wings” attraction when I was growing up. But I liked these “odd” type attractions a lot.

Aubrey April 19, 2014 at 7:12 am

Oh yeah, we got stuck on the Carousel of Progress, too… with our then-2-year-old boy! The animatronics are fun, but the scenes are a little lengthier than I bargained for. And watching them more than once? Sheesh!

I also have an aversion to the Small World ride, but for different reasons than you might think. On a separate Florida trip many moons ago (actually our honeymoon!), my husband and I decided to go to Disney for one day. (I had never been!) While waiting in the line for Small World, I accidentally deleted all the photos on our new digital camera. Straight up deleted our honeymoon photos (I blame a confusing menu and not paying enough attention while navigating it!) My heart sank. And then I had to stand there and listen to that song over and over ad nauseum. What a day! (Stopping by from #typeaparent!)

Sara May 10, 2014 at 10:34 am

Aubrey, Oh Noooo! I’d have a love/hate with a ride that brought about so much heartache. Although, since I’ve done that before I have to say that the heartache goes away as the years together pass. Thanks for stopping by.

Beth~ A Disney Mom's Thoughts April 19, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Wow. I do love this attraction and right now I’m singing the song in my head… however, 5 times is a bit much and I too would pass for a while! We skipped it’s a small world for several years because of a similar experience. But, after having kids, I’ve had to go back on iasw… great post! #typeaparent

Sara May 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

Beth, I’m sure there will be a time I’ll go back to Carousel of Progress. But, it does rank right up there with It’s A Small World on the “list of rides you’ll have to skip for a few years after being stuck on it.” Glad to know there’s a “recovery” to this trauma.

Melissa @jonahbonah April 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm

i don’t think i’ve ever been stuck on a disney ride. how did you get so lucky? LOL

Sara May 10, 2014 at 10:31 am

Melissa, you know you just jinxed yourself. I hope you’re never stuck on a ride, and if you are that it’s a cool one. Although, after a few minutes being stuck loses all its fun.

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