BACKSTORY: (June 29, 1974–1988): The Carousel of Progress was a Disneyland favorite; beginning at the New York World’s Fair and then moving to Anaheim in 1967, this Tomorrowland attraction was sponsored by General Electric. By 1973, GE felt that the well was dry and that it was time for a fresh set of eyes to be mesmerized by this attraction, and Disney agreed to move the Carousel to Orlando. The last Anaheim show was on September 9, 1973.
Since an empty building was out of the question, the Imagineers had to come up with a replacement show. With the upcoming Bicentennial as an inspiration, Marc Davis whipped up a spectacular musical revue, complete with 114 singing animals that represented the forefront of audio-animatronic technology. Davis used characters from an unfinished movie that was to be called “Chanticleer.” The use of costumed animals instead of people helped hide any limitations in movement that might have occurred. Del Monte stepped in as the new sponsor. The show moved guests on a history of America by using more than 40 musical numbers, including songs from the Old South sung by the Swamp Boys, the Old West, the Gay Nineties, and even “today” (which seemed more like yesterday!). Songs for this show included “Yankee Doodle,” “Joy to the World,” “Old Chisholm Trail,” “Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay.” and a pig singing “Bill Bailey” (voiced by Golden Horseshoe legend Betty Taylor). Hosts Sam the eagle (voiced by Burl Ives) & Ollie the owl (Sam Edwards) sang “Yankee Doodle” each time the carousel rotated to introduce a new musical act. It didn’t take very long after the Bicentennial for this attraction to become a little “dated.” Many referred to it as “America Sang.” Still, it had a fairly long run and didn’t close until April 10, 1988. It has been said that Marc Davis was extremely disappointed when it closed, especially after all the work and creativity he pumped into this show to get it ready in time for a very short deadline. Although it was a rowsing show, this salute to the Great American Songbook really was somewhat out of place in Tomorrowland. Most of the “animals” in this attraction found a new home at “Splash Mountain” in Critter Country once this show closed.
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