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Walt Disney and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’

One corporation chose to work with Disney because Walt's optimistic vision for the future matched their own.

by
Chris Queen

Bio

April 7, 2014 - 2:30 pm
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NYWF_7-64-Progressland

In case you’ve missed the rest of the series:

Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’

Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’

Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’

Welcome back to our series where we’ve looked back at the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair and Disney’s input into it. This week, we’ll see how Disney teamed up with one of the country’s most recognizable corporations to create a pavilion that celebrated American ingenuity and free enterprise.

In Disneyland’s early days, Walt devised the idea for a side street offshoot from Main Street, U.S.A. At the Edison Square attraction, Disney would team up with General Electric (which had its genesis in Edison’s company) to present the story of how electricity benefited a typical American family from the turn of the 20th century, through the present, and into the future. Disneyland’s souvenir maps listed Edison Square among the park’s coming attractions, but by 1959, General Electric (GE) requested that Disney use their idea in a pavilion at the forthcoming World’s Fair in New York City. They called the exhibit General Electric Progressland.

GE knew they had partnered with the right organization, and their promotional materials for the Fair touted Walt’s involvement:

Walt has used all his resources to make Progressland the number one attraction at the Fair. He has filled it with surprising, often startling, and always pleasing evidences of his great ability to entertain.

But the purpose is never lost sight of — to tell the story of electricity and the way it is changing the world — past, present and future . . . to showcase a great industry, the electrical industry, and tell how it has grown and prospered (and helped the nation to grow and prosper) in a free, competitive society.

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Actually, whenever we visit WDW in Florida, we always ride the Carousel of Progress. My daughters, both grown now, have loved it since they were children. And my wife and I recently had the pleasure of introducing her mother to it, since she'd never been to DisneyWorld. She loved it too!
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