Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress sits in the back of Tomorrowland, one of the many subsections of the Magic Kingdom park. Most people pass by it without a second thought. After all, it's nothing flashy, and the technology itself is dated at best, but back in 1964, it was the star of the New York's World's Fair, and Walt himself brought it as his presentation. Animatronics were fairly new, and a rotating theatre show was exciting for all who got a chance to watch. Evidently, not much about it had changed from then to the early 2000s. As a child, however, I was mesmerized.
The show follows an American family throughout different decades, covering history and technology as it evolved. The theme song has stuck with me for two decades now, reminding me that the future is filled with incredible possibilities. Spending my very early childhood living in South Florida meant many trips to Disney World with a year-round family pass. I had so many favorites growing up, but Carousel of Progress was always the standout.
I loved the way the seats rotated around the cylindrical theatre stage, taking you on a trip through time. I loved the little animatronic dog that never seemed to age. I loved the chapter set far into the future, the 21st century that we now live in. They had mock-up versions of virtual reality gaming and talked about technology that is now older than DVDs. At the time, these were futuristic hypothetical technologies, and it was unbelievable to watch our world slowly emulate what the attraction predicted. To this day, it's one of the oldest running attractions in the history of Disney World, and it was always Walt's favorite.
I know it's just a theme park attraction, but I've carried its themes with me through my entire life. It's not just about ideas, but about the power of them. During the ride, you watch as humanity conjures up dreams and then makes them reality. There's something beautiful and classic about the experience. It feels like a time capsule of our history, and out of everything Walt Disney created, I think this piece best captures the way he viewed the world.
While people flock to Space Mountain and Dumbo's Flight, my dad and I were always the most eager to ride the Carousel of Progress. It became a beloved childhood memory, something I'm able to gush about even now at the age of almost 20. I'm not sure how much longer the attraction will remain open, as it's getting old now and needs frequent repairs, but I'm grateful that it stuck around long enough for me to see it. The ride is a special glimpse into the birth of modern technology, showing both what we've accomplished and what we're capable of if we can dream it.