AttractionsWalt Disney World (FL)

Everything You Need to Know About Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

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You’re going on vacation to Walt Disney World! The only problem? You’re not sure which attractions are right for you and your kiddos and you have questions. Which attractions are too intense for little ones? What rides do I really need a FastPass+ reservation for? What’s the disability access like for certain attractions? We’re answering all those questions and more in our Everything You Need to Know attraction series with today’s focus on Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom!

What is Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?

(c) Disney

This attraction is a four-act audio-animatronic show illustrating how electricity and technology improved the lives of an American family during the 20th century. The show is presented in a theater that revolves around the stage and features one of the best and most iconic Disney theme park songs, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” written by the Sherman Brothers.

Where is Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is located in Tomorrowland next to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and across from the entrance to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.

What is the History of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?

Walt Disney had an idea for a show highlighting the history and impact of electricity on daily life. He wanted the show to be part of Edison Square, an expanded area of Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A.  Unfortunately, Edison Square never came to be; however, Walt Disney still brought his idea for the show to life for the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City.

Today we know this show as Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. But at the New York World’s Fair, the show was called Progressland. Sponsored by General Electric, it was one of the most visited pavilions at the fair. The use of audio-animatronics coupled with the rotating theater made it a huge hit with guests.

After the fair, the show moved to a two-level pavilion at Disneyland and reopened in 1967 with General Electric remaining the sponsor. The first level contained the revolving show while the second level contained Progress City, Walt’s model for EPCOT.

Disney eventually moved the Carousel of Progress from Disneyland to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom at the request of General Electric. The show opened to East Coast guests in 1975 with a few modifications and a new song, “The Best Time of Your Life.” In 1993, the show was refurbished and reopened with the name Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, as well as a few new modifications. The refurb also brought back the show’s original song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

What You Need to Know About the Queue

There’s not much to tell here. The queue is basically the sloped ramp up to the entrance and a holding area outside the theater door. Guests waiting for a theater should pay attention to the overhead screens to learn about the show’s history and significance.

What You Need to Know About the Experience

The 21-minute show is divided into four scenes each set in a different time period during a different holiday. All scenes are hosted by the father of the family who discusses the events of the day and how new inventions are improving everyday life. Other members of the family chime in and make an appearance.

The first scene is set around 1900 on Valentine’s Day and showcases inventions such as gas lamps, an icebox, and cast-iron coal stove. The second scene takes place in the 1920s during the 4th of July and features the radio and electric lights. The third scene appears to occur in the late 1940s highlighting the television and automatic dishwasher. The fourth scene, however, is a bit of a mystery.

While intended to be set in modern times, the style choices of the audio-animatronic characters and the technology on display are clear indications that the scene hasn’t been updated in a while.

Since the show is older than most, it suffers from the occasional glitch and guests may have to sit through the same scene over again before the theater rotates.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a must-do to gain a better understanding of Walt Disney himself and his optimism for the future.

What You Need to Know About the Theater

Upon entering a theater, guests will find several rows of lightly padded chairs with backs and armrests. There are no safety restraints.

What You Need to Know About Accessibility

Guests may remain in wheelchairs/ECVs. Wheelchair seating is at the front of the theater.

What You Need to Know About Health and Safety Advisories

There are no health or safety advisories for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress!

What are the Height Requirements?

There is no height requirement for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress!

Does Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress Offer FastPass+?

No, FastPass+ is not offered for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. However, the only wait guests may experience for this show is waiting for a theater. It’s usually a walk-on even during peak attendance periods.

Does Weather Affect Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?

A June storm pops over World Drive as a rainy afternoon gets started.

Since the Carousel of Progress is located indoors, inclement weather has no impact on the show’s operation. Guests waiting for a theater may be exposed to the elements.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Experience Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?

Carousel of Progress handles big crowds effectively and is a good choice during busier times of day. Again, the only wait most guests experience is waiting for a theater.

Did I answer all of your questions about Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress? Is this attraction at the top of your family’s vacation to-do list? Let us know in the comments.

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

4 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

  • What you really need to know about Carousel of progress is that you shouldn’t go in unless you can stay for the full 20 minutes. If someone leaves early everyone has to repeat the room they’re in. Happened the last 3 times I was on it.

  • We saw this for the first time early this year. (I visited the 64 World’s Fair as a boy but do not remember Progressland. The only thing I remember was waiting in an hours-long line with my mom to see the Ford exhibit, where we rode Mustangs.) I enjoyed it. I assume the last scene originally touted the wonders of the then-modern ’60s. What’s in it now didn’t seem terribly outdated to us, though.

  • I first visit this attraction during opening week of the 1964 World’s Fair. In fact it was the first attraction I wet on at the fair and I went on it many more times since as a young 11 year old, I was close enough to go to the fair every weekend by myself Admission was only $1,00 if you were under 12. I now live 40 minutes from Disney and go on it at least a couple times a year. Never a wait and boy does it bring back memories. This and It’s a Smal world take me right back to those times. I only regret that as Epcot has aged, Disney has decided to replace manu dark rides such as horizons and world of motion with thrill rides. This will always be a number one for me.

  • David Albert

    The first time on the CofP was in 1974 at Magic Kingdom. There were my parents and six of us kids. It was a treat for us. My parents saved a long time to afford to go. And Magic Kingdom at the time was not unlimited. Each person’s admission came with a book of tickets. So we had to be selective on what rides we where going to ride. The thing about the C of P that stands out to me was it was a “free”. No ticket was required. For those of you that have grown up in unlimited rides on your admission probably can’t relate to me saying that the fact it was a free ride was a big deal that stands out in my mind to this day. Another fact I recall about this ride was that my dad was an electrical engineer who worked for GE. I guess at the time I believed that my dad helped build the ride since GE was the ride’s sponsor. I know now that was not true.

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