Featured Attractions

Monday, April 29, 2024

it’s a small world Part One: Disneyland Goes To The World’s Fair

The mid-1960’s were hopping at Walt Disney Productions. The studio was producing future classics such as “Mary Poppins” and “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”, Imagineering was busy growing Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom and the company was ramping up to design EPCOT the city. With all this work happening at the same time, Walt Disney would have been excused if he had chosen to concentrate on just these projects. Instead, he embraced the upcoming 1964 World’s Fair, taking on several huge projects for the dazzling showcase that was springing up in Flushing Meadows, NYC.

Walt Disney saw the World’s Fair as an opportunity to prove that the magic of Disneyland would work on the east coast. That he could also do it with other people’s money was icing on the cake. Major companies lined up to work with Walt Disney Productions.

One of the first companies that signed on to work with Walt Disney was General Electric, who would sponsor Progressland, an entertaining look at progress through the years and, more importantly, the future. Featuring advanced animatronics and a unique circular theater that would seat hundreds of people every few minutes, the attraction proved to be a popular one. More importantly for Walt, he would also get access to General Electric’s technology. Technology that he might be able to use at EPCOT.

Another attraction that would greet World’s Fair guests would be Magic Skyway, presented by Ford. The attraction would use actual Ford vehicles to take guests into the past. Guests would encounter fierce dinosaurs, bumbling cave men and more in this traditional dark ride attraction. Other than requiring the use of Ford vehicles in the attraction, the Ford Motor Company had little involvement in the planning and construction of the ride.

Perhaps the attraction that had the most importance to Walt Disney was Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was Walt Disney’s favorite president, so the attraction had great importance for him. It would also prove to be the most complex of all the attractions planned for the World’s Fair. The attraction’s grand finale would feature a hyper-realistic Abraham Lincoln animatronic that would present snippets of some of Lincoln’s greatest speeches.

These attractions would have been enough to keep anyone busy. Walt Disney’s team certainly thought they already had their hands full. But the biggest, most beloved attraction that came out of the World’s Fair would be the one that seemingly came out of nowhere, commissioned by the last person you’d imagine. Join us over the next few weeks as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the happiest cruise that ever sailed- it’s a small world!