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Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

Travel through the 20th century and marvel at the evolution of technology during this classic Audio-Animatronics show! 

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Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a classic Disney attraction that has been delighting guests since its debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. This innovative rotating theater show takes you on a nostalgic journey through the 20th century, showcasing how technological advancements like electricity transformed the lives of an American family over the decades.

 

Conceived and overseen by Walt Disney himself, the Carousel of Progress represents his optimistic vision of how progress and innovation can create “a great big beautiful tomorrow.” As the theater rotates, you’ll be immersed in four acts set in the 1900s, 1920s, 1940s, and the 21st century, with an audio-animatronic family humorously highlighting the new inventions and appliances that made their lives easier over time.

 

More than just a glimpse into the past, this beloved attraction is a cherished piece of Disney history and Imagineering. It features the iconic “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” theme song and was one of the last projects that Walt Disney personally put his mark on before his passing in 1966. Step through the corridors of technological progress at this enduring Magic Kingdom classic.

Carousel of Progress Ride Information

  • Location: Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom
  • Average Wait Times: Not being the most popular ride, average wait times are usually 5–10 minutes
  • Height Requirement: There is no height requirement for this attraction
  • Ride Duration: Approximately 21 minutes
  • Genie+ and Lightning Lane: Not available at this time
  • Single Rider Line: There is no Single Rider line for this attraction
  • Rider Switch: Rider Switch is available for those who need it
  • Disability Access Service (DAS): DAS is available for those with disabilities.
  • Early Entry: Not an early entry ride, unfortunately
  • Best Times to Ride: Early in the morning or late at night for shorter wait times.
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History and Design

The origins of the Carousel of Progress Magic Kingdom can be traced back to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where it debuted as the prime feature of the General Electric (GE) Pavilion under the name “Progressland.” Walt Disney himself conceived the idea as a way to illustrate the impact of electricity on the daily lives of an American family.

 

The innovative rotating theater and audio-animatronic figures were a huge hit with visitors. After the fair ended, the attraction was moved to Disneyland in 1967, where it remained until 1973. It was then relocated to its current home in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, opening on January 15, 1975, the same day as Space Mountain.

 

The Magic Kingdom Carousel of Progress theater is a marvel of engineering, with a rotating circular platform that moves the audience through different scenes while the outer ring remains stationary. This design allows for seamless transitions between the acts, transporting guests through time without any disruptions

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The Ride Experience

Queue and Pre-Show

The queue for the Disney World Carousel of Progress is relatively simple, with a few displays showcasing the attraction’s history and concept art. As you approach the loading area, you’ll hear the iconic theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” playing in the background, setting the tone for the nostalgic journey ahead.

The Show

Once inside the theater, you’ll be greeted by the audio-animatronic family as they progress through four distinct eras:

  1. Act 1 – The Turn of the 20th Century (1900s): Meet the family in their humble home, where they’re preparing for the arrival of progress and the advent of electricity.
  2. Act 2 – The 1920s: The family embraces the early days of electricity, with new appliances and technologies making their lives easier.
  3. Act 3 – The 1940s: The family enjoys the benefits of the electronic age, with televisions, vacuum cleaners, and other modern conveniences.
  4. Act 4 – The 21st Century: In the final act, the family celebrates Christmas in the present day, surrounded by the latest technological advancements, including virtual reality and voice-controlled devices.

As the theater rotates, you’ll witness the family’s evolution through the decades, with each scene showcasing the progress made in their daily lives thanks to technological advancements. The audio-animatronics are incredibly lifelike, and the attention to detail in the sets and props is truly remarkable

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Tips for Riders

  • Arrive early or plan to ride later in the evening to avoid longer wait times.
  • Take advantage of the air-conditioning and use the Carousel of Progress as a break from the heat or rain.
  • Pay close attention to the details in each scene, as there are often hidden Easter eggs and references to other Disney attractions and concepts.
  • Sing along to the catchy theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” which will likely be stuck in your head for the rest of the day!
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Comparison With Other Disney Parks

While the Carousel of Progress has found its permanent home at the Magic Kingdom, it has also been featured at other Disney parks over the years.

Disneyland

The Carousel of Progress was originally relocated from the 1964 World’s Fair to Disneyland in 1967, where it remained until 1973. During its time at Disneyland, the attraction underwent minor changes, but the core experience remained the same.

Walt Disney World

After its stint at Disneyland, the Carousel of Progress made its way to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1975. Over the years, it has undergone several updates and refurbishments, including the restoration of the original theme song in 1993 and the addition of new wardrobes for the audio-animatronics in the final scene in 2022.

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Carousel of Progress Holiday Overlay

Carousel of Progress Holiday Overlay

During the Holiday season, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress adds some Christmas decorations throughout the ride. It may not seem like a lot, but if you’ve never experienced it, it’s worth going at least once! They set up a Christmas tree, stockings over the fireplace, presents and wreaths!

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Carousel of Progress Disney World FAQ's

  1. What is the Carousel of Progress?
    The Carousel of Progress is a rotating theater show that takes guests on a journey through the 20th century, showcasing the advancements in technology and how they’ve impacted the lives of an American family over the decades.
  2. Where is the Carousel of Progress located?
    The Carousel of Progress is located in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
  3. How long is the Carousel of Progress show?
    The show lasts approximately 21 minutes.
  4. Does Walt Disney World still have the Carousel of Progress?
    Yes! The attraction is still going strong after all these years!
  5. When was the last time Carousel of Progress was updated?
    The Carousel of Progress was last updated in 2022. Clothes and wardrobe were updated to more recent items.
  6. Is there a single rider line for the Carousel of Progress?
    No, there is no single rider line for this attraction.
  7. Is the Carousel of Progress wheelchair accessible?
    Yes, the Carousel of Progress is wheelchair accessible, and Disability Access Service (DAS) is available.
  8. Is the Carousel of Progress located in Epcot?
    No. The Carousel is located in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park.
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Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a long-time fan or a first-time visitor, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a must-see attraction at the Magic Kingdom. Its blend of nostalgia, innovation, and storytelling creates a truly unique experience that celebrates the progress of technology and its impact on our daily lives. As you step out of the theater, you’ll find yourself humming the unforgettable theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” a reminder of the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.

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Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress Ride Review
The Final Word
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress is a timeless Magic Kingdom classic that transports guests through the 20th century via an innovative rotating theater. This nostalgic Audio-Animatronics show immerses you in the story of a family embracing technological progress, from the humble 1900s home to the modern 21st century. With its catchy theme song and Walt Disney's optimistic vision, it's a must-see piece of Disney history.
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