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  • Welcome to TPMvids Disney Beat where we talk about all things Disney!

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  • It doesn’t look like much now but what youre looking at could be considered to be part

  • of the testing grounds for Walt Disney World.

  • This is Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens New York, home of the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

  • Today youll find soccer players, rollerbladers and joggers, but the view from this bench

  • in 1964 was a little different.

  • It was a great big beautiful tomorrow.

  • {Singing} There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow and tomorrow is just a dream away.

  • The field right here was home to the General electric’s Progressland; one of the four

  • pavilions Disney developed at the fair.

  • No other organization had their hand in as many pavilions as Walt Disney and it’s no

  • wonder he was considered to be one of the Stars.

  • You could say it was Walt Disney’s World’s Fair.

  • What took place on these grounds had a major impact on Disney attractions, animatronic

  • technology and future resorts but there’s probably a lot about the fair you don’t

  • know.

  • So by looking at the successes, failures and left over remnants, let’s talk about the

  • history of Walt Disney and the 1964 New York World’s Fair!

  • Flushing Meadows Corona park was originally developed for the 1939 New York World’s

  • Fair.

  • When it came time to host the Fair in ’64 much of the original layout was used, but

  • here’s a little twist.

  • The 1964 World’s Fair wasn’t really an official World’s Fair.

  • The Bureau of International Expositions or the BIE is the organization that oversees

  • and regulates these expos.

  • They only allow a World’s Fair to take place every 5 years and a nation can only host every

  • 10.

  • In 1960, when the city of New York went to the Bureau in Paris, their bid was rejected

  • since the Seattle World’s Fair was happening in 1962.

  • The BIE advised its nation members to not participate.

  • Many countries refused to be involved in the 1964 Fair but this didn’t stop World Fair

  • Corporation president Robert Moses.

  • This just meant the gaps needed to be filled by corporations

  • {Robert Moses} Well the overall stated purpose is education for brotherhood.

  • It has to be an educational institution to get tax exemption.

  • That may have been the case but the fair slowly became a celebration of Corporate America

  • which worked in favour for Walt Disney.

  • Since the fair wasn’t backed by the BIE, Robert Moses had a lot to prove.

  • He didn’t want his fair to be a financial failure like the 1939 World’s fair.

  • Moses quickly realized that he’d need something that was guaranteed to draw visitors to Queens

  • which turned out to be the power of Walt Disney storytelling.

  • By this point in 1960, Disneyland in California had been open for 5 years and was proven to

  • be a success not to mention that Walt Disney was already a household name thanks to his

  • television programs on ABC.

  • So Moses approached Walt about participating in the Fair and this turned out to be a perfect

  • partnership for many reasons.

  • When Walt built Disneyland, he had corporations sponsor park.

  • By using other peoples money, he was able to fund his own ideas and that’s exactly

  • where his mind went with the World’s Fair.

  • If he was able to collaborate with American corporations, then this would give him the

  • opportunity to experiment and test new ideas for Disneyland on someone else’s dime.

  • For the 1964 New York World’s Fair Walt Disney partnered with Ford, General Electric,

  • the State of Illinois and Pepsi-Cola.

  • Over the course of 3 years his team went to work on creating 4 unique attractions.

  • {Walt Disney} Now when the current World’s Fair ends, all four of our shows will find

  • a permeant home at Disneyland USA.

  • It was a genius plan costing the company practically nothing for shiny new attractions and ride

  • technology but this wasn’t Walt’s only intention when partnering with the World’s

  • Fair.

  • See, when Disney was approached by Moses, he saw this partnership also as an opportunity

  • to test his attractions on east coast audiences.

  • Disneyland was already a smash hit on the west but Walt had ideas of developing another

  • park on the east.

  • He just wasn’t sure if his Disneyland attractions would resonate.

  • So there was a lot riding on the success of the fair for both Walt Disney and Robert Moses.

  • Moses needed to recoup the 1 Billion dollars it cost to build and Walt Disney needed the

  • stamp of approval from New Yorkers who were known to be a very critical audience.

  • When the gates opened on April 22, 1964 Moses made sure to let the world know that Disney

  • was the star and people came to the fair just to experience the Disney magic.

  • In addition to Disney’s four attractions, Disney characters could be seen walking the

  • fairgrounds and with the other rides like the Monorail and the Sky Ride, it already

  • kinda felt like an east coast Disneyland.

  • The fair was going just as planned for Walt Disney which was great news because he secretly

  • began making offers in April to purchase land in central Florida.

  • Walt was more confident than ever in an east coast Disneyland and pieces of the fair would

  • eventually find themselves at what would become Walt Disney World.

  • According to this ad, you’d need at least 5 days to see everything at the fair plus

  • some Supp-hose socks.

  • The grounds covered 646 acres, there was 153 pavilions and they were split up into 5 distinct

  • areas; industrial, International, Federal and State, transportation and the Lake.

  • Over in the transportation section you could the Ford pavilion which featured The Magic

  • Skyway.

  • The pavilion covered over 304,000 square feet and according to an NBC News program it was

  • considered to be the 4th most popular attraction.

  • This was the first attraction for the fair that WED began work on and Walt Disney had

  • the idea of using Ford vehicles as the ride vehicles.

  • So 146 ford convertibles transported over 4000 guests an hour through the attraction.

  • Not only did the magic skyway introduce the world to the Ford Mustang it was also the

  • introduction to on-board audio in Disney attractions.

  • In the 1965 season Walt Disney himself provided the narration.

  • Observing from the outside you’d see the convertibles making their way around the rotunda

  • then they’d enter into the age of the dinosaurs.

  • These were the largest audio animatronics developed at the time and are the same animatronics

  • that can be found over at Disneyland in the Primeval World Diorama on the Disneyland Railroad.

  • When Disney told Ford he’d like to bring one of the most popular attractions back to

  • Disneyland, the Ford motor company declined.

  • This lack of sponsorship did not stop Walt Disney and he wasn’t going to let these

  • dinosaurs go extinct.

  • He shipped them all back to Anaheim and just 9 months after the fair ended he opened the

  • Primeval World diorama in July of 1966.

  • As for the Magic Skyway’s ride system, well that didn’t go unused either and the technology

  • became the ride system for the PeopleMover which originally opened at Disneyland in 1967.

  • Next lets take a trip over to the industrial area . home to General Electric’s Progressland

  • featuring Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

  • This was another one of Walt’s personal ideas; to create a show that revolved around

  • the American family and this one literally revolved.

  • The attraction was very ahead of its time in terms of technology, with its rotating

  • theatre and not to mention the life-like audio animatronics.

  • These were actually the first realistic human Audio-animatronics Disney began developing.

  • It was actually said that guests would stop fair hosts asking for names of the performers

  • on stage.

  • That’s how convincing these animatronics were back then.

  • People in the 60s had never seen anything like it and it was another popular must see

  • Pavilion.

  • Over 45,000 people went through the carousel theatre each day.

  • Walt Disney used the attractions popularity as a selling feature to get GE to sponsor

  • the attraction back at Disneyland.

  • So after the fair ended, the Carousel of Progress opened as part of new Tomorrowland at Disneyland

  • in 1967.

  • It ran for just over 6 years until it was shipped back to the east coast where it opened

  • in Magic Kingdom’s expanded Tomorrowland in 1975.

  • The next pavilion that boasted Walt Disney’s genius antics of animation was the Illinois

  • State pavilion where WED debuted Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

  • It was the third Pavilion Walt Disney signed onto.

  • After Robert Moses visited WED enterprises in 1962 he saw ideas of a presidents attraction.

  • Since what would later become Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was

  • far from completion, Disney settled on developing one animatronic for the fair and Moses teamed

  • Disney up with the State of Illinois.

  • The sponsorship from Illinois allowed Imagineers to continue development on their first full

  • range motion human audio animatronic.

  • After a cancelled preview of the show due to technical difficulties with the animatronic,

  • they were able to dress the problems in time for it to be ready for opening day.

  • Audiences were throughly impressed when Abraham Lincoln stood up from his chair to deliver

  • the Gettysburg address.

  • The World’s Fair Guidebook says Lincoln was capable of more than 250,000 combinations

  • of actions including gestures, smiles and frowns.

  • The attraction was such a hit at the fair that Disney created a duplicate of the animatronic

  • and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln opened at Disneyland in July of 1965.

  • During the second season of the Fair, this made Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln the first

  • Disney attraction to run simultaneously on both the east and west coasts.

  • The last pavilion that Disney had his name attached to was Pepsi in the industrial area

  • featuring it’s a small world benefiting UNICEF.

  • Pepsi was the last pavilion Walt Disney partnered with and everything from concept to design

  • was completed in only 11 months.

  • Walt Disney didn’t meet with Pepsi until March of 1963 but told them he could deliver

  • an attraction in time for the fair.

  • So he put his team right to work but Pepsi was initially unimpressed with the pitch since

  • it didn’t promote enough Pepsi.

  • They still decided to go forward with the idea and it became the only pavilion operated

  • by Walt Disney Productions.

  • It was hard to miss the 120 foot tower of the four winds and ads for the pavilion made

  • sure to boast the Disneyland name.

  • It was really the Disneyland Pavilion.

  • Fair goers loved seeing Disney characters roaming around and they fell in love with

  • the magical 9 minute boat ride.

  • It cost adults 95 cents and children 60 cents to experience the whimsical attraction with

  • all proceeds going to UNICEF.

  • At the end of the fair’s second season in October of 1965, Disney packed up it’s a

  • small World and it opened at Disneyland 7 months later in May of 1966.

  • The Tower of the Four Winds was the only thing that wasn’t packed up.

  • Rolly Crump, the imagineer responsible for designing the tower, actually hated the way

  • it turned out after construction.