Thursday, September 07, 2006

Distracted by Disney

The Sherman Brothers and Walt Disney sing
about a great, big, beautiful Tomorrow.
Dang! It's late again! I've been distracted all night with the same subject I was obsessing about last night: Disney, specifically Disneyland, more specifically Tomorrowland. I ended up heavily revising a Wikipedia entry about my favorite non-Mary Poppins song by the Sherman Brothers: "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." This song, written for the General Electric pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair, has the following lyrics:

There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day.
There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow's just a dream away!

Man has a dream, and that's the start.
He follows his dream, with mind and heart,
And when it becomes a reality,
It's a dream come true, for you and me!

--There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
by Robert M. Sherman and Richard B. Sherman

Concept art for the contemporary/world of tomorrow
scene in the Carousel of Progress show

As you probably know if you read my Round Robin entry from last night, the most important part of the G.E. pavilion at the World's Fair, the Carousel of Progress, was relocated to Disneyland once the fair was over. It opened at Disneyland in 1967, and was moved to Walt Disney World in 1973, where it remains today.

Carousel Theater, now home of Innoventions, 2005

Another audio-animatronic show, America Sings, took over the Carousel Theater at Disneyland. I don't think I ever saw it. Once it was gone, the building remained closed until Innoventions opened as part of the rededicated "New" Tomorrowland in 1998. John and I were there. Frankly though, Innoventions is mostly a snoozer, with lots of computer games and other non-cutting edge technology.

The one thing I like about Innoventions involves this audio-animatronic character, Tom Morrow, voiced by Nathan Lane in sort of a Charles Nelson Reilly impression. He hosts introductory segments on innovations in sports, transportation, the home, and I forget what else. The cool part is that he sings There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, with new lyrics by the Sherman Brothers.

It's kind of a sad commentary on the 1998-present version of Tomorrowland that my favorite parts of it are little homages to the Tomorrowland of yesteryear. Here, for example, is a nice display in the window of Star Traders for the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland.

And this is a screen capture of something I found just tonight on the Walt Disney Treasures Tomorrow Land DVD set. Walt and the Shermans made a little film for G.E. before the World's Fair, introducing the song and other preliminary work for the pavilion. When Walt dismisses the Shermans, they go out singing and dancing, with the G.E. logo stuck to the backs of their conservative business suits. Walt hangs around for another three minutes to show off concept art and a scale model of the Carousel Theater. When he finally turns his back to the camera at the end, he too is wearing the GE emblem.

I have to say that I've always been fond of G.E., partly because of our kitchen appliances in Manlius, partly because Joel's dad worked for them and my mom wrote a parody song (Come Back, G.E.) about their employees being transferred to other cities. But mostly, I've always been fond of the company because of the Carousel of Progress and the Sherman Brothers song - and for the sequel show at Epcot, Horizons, which had the slogan, "If we can dream it, we can do it."

Hey, it's something to aspire to!

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Gaboatman said...

I enjoyed this entry, Karen. I learned something I didn't know before. I like the thought at the end. "If we can dream it, we can do it." That quote kind of sums up Walt Disney, too.

ShellyS said...

I can't tell you how many times we went to see that show at the NY World's Fair (not an official World's Fair, apparently) 1964-65. I still remember the lyrics to that, plus of course, It's a Small World, which we probably went to even more times.

I got to see the updated World of Tomorrow at Disney World in Orlando a number of years ago. Still fun. I have photos, too. But it looks like I didn't bother scanning them. Maybe I should.

And I'm trying out my new Blogger name for commenting. Let's see if it works.

Becky said...

I remember taking Tyler on the carousel of progress and being surprised that he actually paid attention (he was 2 going on 3 at the time). LOL! I never would have picked out Nathan Lane as the voice of Tom. It sounded more like Norm MacDonald of Saturday Night Live fame. Sitting still as we were spun from animatronic scene to scene, I remember thinking that the show HAD to have reused much of the original carousel content. So much of it seemed...old. Classic old...retro old...not cobwebby old. LOL