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

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.

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.

What is your favorite Audio-Animatronics figure at the Disneyland Resort?

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