Classic Disney Attractions Influenced By The 1964 World's Fair

When Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt Disney's team of imagineers lacked the tools and knowledge to create most of the attractions that we see in the parks today. Many of the technological concepts that fuel todays attractions simply didn't exist yet and many exist today because of the research and experimentation of those early imagineers - with a little bit of outside help. The 1964 World's Fair helped to propel the guest experience in the parks to a new level and the technologies that were implemented in the process have been crucial to the development of modern attractions.





Ford partnered with Disney to create an exhibit for the World's Fair that showcased their Mustang. The exhibit featured an omnimover system that employed a conveyor-like apparatus to create continuous motion at a consistent speed. Back at Disneyland, an imagineer by the name of Rolly Crump had begun collecting ideas for a walkthrough exhibit that was then known as the Museum of the Weird. With Ford's investment in the omnimover system, Disney's team was able to learn how to build and implement these systems for theme park attractions. Thus the walkthrough museum eventually evolved into a charming little ride that we call Haunted Mansion. Omnimover systems allow for continuous loading on rides and are employed thought the parks - from Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin to the The Seas With Nemo and Friends ride at Epcot, the omnimover has been an essential system for Disney.


Omnimover Ride Technology Changed The Park ExperienceOmnimover Ride Technology Changed The Park Experience


Just a year before the World's Fair, Walt Disney and his team had unveiled The Enchanted Tiki Room, which featured robotic birds that could talk, sign, and even seemingly move on their own. Thus the world of animatronics was born. The State of Illinois commissioned Disney to put that animatronic technology to work on a human form and Walt Disney set out to bring Abraham Lincoln, his childhood hero, to life for the attraction Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Not only did this attraction inspire the Hall of Presidents seven years later, but the ability to bring lifelike movement to a human figure also made possible General Electric's World's Fair pavilion, which we know today as Carousel of Progress. Human animatronics have been vital to the success of many Disney attractions since that time. From The American Adventure at Epcot, one of Disney's most technologically advanced shows, to the dancing Ariel figure from Under the Sea that can actually change the shape of its mouth to match song lyrics, Disney has continued to stretch the limits of animatronic technology.


Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln to Hall of PresidentsGreat Moments With Mr. Lincoln to Hall of Presidents


Pepsi was a last-minute addition to Disney's list of World's Fair clients. The goal was to develop an attraction that would promote UNICEF by showcasing the children of the world. Pepsi funded the project that became "It's a Small World", but in doing so, they changed the course of one the park's most beloved rides. Like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean was originally slated to be a walkthrough attraction, but the advent of the new flume propelled system from It's a Small World meant that Pirates of the Caribbean could now be a boat ride. Today, more advanced versions of those flume systems power great attractions like Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids.


It's A Small WorldIt's A Small World


The next time you visit Walt Disney World, make sure that you schedule some time between riding Space Mountain and Tower of Terror to pay homage to some of the classic rides that sparked a new round of innovation in the Disney Parks. Which 1964 World's Fair classic is your favorite?

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A big thanks goes out to regular Guest Author Holly L. for sharing her knowledge and photographs of Walt Disney World with us. If you'd like to read more from Holly, you can find her sharing her adventures on our member forum.

Parker wrote on Thu, 09/09/2021 - 04:04:

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