Thursday, April 21, 2011

Today begins the 1965 New York World's Fair

April 21, 1965
Today begins the 1965 New York World's Fair

The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was the third major world's fair to be held in New York City.

The fair ran for two six-month seasons, April 22–October 18, 1964 and April 21–October 17, 1965.

The theme was symbolized by a 12-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called Unisphere.

The Disney Influence and the 1964-1965 World's Fair

The longest lines at the 1964-1965 World's Fair (in New York City) were for the 4 attractions created by Disney. Walt took some of the attractions and elements of others to his Anaheim park when the Fair closed.

The fair also is remembered as the vehicle Walt Disney utilized to design and perfect the system of "audio-animatronics", in which a combination of sound, mechanical electronics and computers controls the movement of lifelike robots to act out scenes.

The Walt Disney Company designed and created four shows at the fair:

    ºoº In the "it's a small world" attraction at the Pepsi pavilion, animated dolls and animals frolicked in a spirit of international unity on a boat ride around the world. The song was provided by the Sherman Brothers. Each of the animated dolls had an identical face, originally designed by New York (Valley Stream) artist Gregory S. Marinello in partnership with Walt Disney himself.
    ºoº General Electric sponsored "Progressland" where an audience seated in a revolving auditorium viewed an audio-animatronic presentation of the progress of electricity in the home. The Sherman Brothers song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" was composed for this attraction.

    ºoº Ford Motor Company presented Disney's "The Magic Skyway," the second most popular exhibit at the fair, using Ford cars in an early prototype of the Omnimover system to move the audience through scenes featuring life-sized audio-animatronic dinosaurs and cavemen. The Walt Disney Company had earlier been asked by General Motors to produce their exhibit, but they declined.
    ºoº At the Illinois pavilion, a lifelike President Abraham Lincoln recited his famous speeches in "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln".

After the fair, there was some discussion of the Disney company retaining these exhibits on-site and converting Flushing Meadows Park into an east coast version of Disneyland, but this idea was abandoned. Instead, Disney relocated several of these exhibits to Disneyland and subsequently replicated them at other Disney theme parks; Walt Disney World is essentially the realization of the original concept of an "east coast Disneyland" with Epcot Center designed a "permanent" world's fair in 1982 and was expressly built as a tribute to the World's Fair.
Two attractions from the fair exist at Walt Disney World, including a variation of the original "it's a small world" and the updated Carousel of Progress. The two remaining attractions currently exist as evolutions of the originals: The Magic Skyway inspired the PeopleMover, and later the Tomorrowland Transit Authority; and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was expanded into The Hall of Presidents.


The 1964 New York World’s Fair – A New Disney Technology is Born

posted on April 21st, 2011 by Erin Glover, Manager, Social Media and Print

As a new member of the Disney Parks Blog team, I will be updating readers on some of the latest events and news from the Disneyland Resort. Today, I’m excited to share a special piece of Disney history with you.

'it's a small world' at Disneyland Park

As Michelle Harker shared yesterday, we’re marking a historic time for Disney Parks this week with the anniversary of the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair, which opened on April 22, 1964. The Fair featured four spectacular attractions, produced by Walt Disney and his creative team, which went on to become the beloved Disney Parks experiences.

In a 1964 episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” Walt Disney previewed the attractions being developed for the Fair, featuring a new, innovative form of animation. He explained that “…Disneyland gave us a new art and a new type of artist – one that works with a slide rule and blow torch instead of pencil and brush. Just as we had to learn to make our animated cartoons talk, we had to find a way to make attraction figures talk, too. We created a new field of animation.”

This new form of animation was so advanced, a name had to be developed for it: “Audio-Animatronics technology.”

'Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln' at Disneyland Park

Walt Disney and his team of Imagineers from WED Enterprises (the original name for Walt Disney Imagineering) developed this breakthrough technology for the creation of what would become legendary Disney Parks attractions:
  • “it’s a small world” was the centerpiece of the UNICEF pavilion and took visitors to more than 100 countries with child-like Audio-Animatronics figures singing the tune written by Disney Legends Richard and Robert Sherman.
  • “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” was Walt Disney’s personal tribute to the 16th president. “Ever since I was a small boy in Illinois, I’ve had a great personal admiration for Abraham Lincoln,” said Walt Disney in his introduction for the attraction, created for the State of Illinois pavilion.
  • The Carousel Theater of Progress was developed with the assistance of General Electric and told the story of man’s progress and the rise of “push-button living.” The Carousel of Progress was a Disneyland park attraction from 1967 to 1973. The show then moved to Magic Kingdom Park in 1975, where it was rewritten and restaged with the new name, “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress,” in 1994.
  • Ford’s Magic Skyway took audiences back in time to the world of the dinosaur, populated by enormous Audio-Animatronics figures. Guests of Ford’s Magic Skyway travelled through the vignettes using technology that would later be the inspiration for the PeopleMover, a Tomorrowland attraction in Disneyland park from 1967 to 1995.

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