Oh, boy. One of the most surprising disappointments of a recent trip to Walt Disney World was the incredibly decrepit state of the Carousel of Progress. We’ve all seen the Carousel get pretty dingy over recent years, but this was downright terrifying. In two of the scenes, the “turn of the century” opening and the 1940s segment, dear Father’s skin was riding up his neck, resembling nothing less than a medically troublesome goiter. In latter scene, we found Father slumped over in his chair, wobbling perilously, giving the impression that he was just winding down from a heck of a bender. Everything else was creaky, too, but poor Father took the cake. I went back the next day to take some footage with my videocamera, but for now here’s a short clip that I took on my phone that first day because I was so surprised to find the show in this condition.
I’m a big fan of the Carousel and believe it should always be showing in at least one of the Disney parks. But the current version is more than due for an update, “car phones” and “laserdiscs” all. I’ll continue to harp about how it should be moved to EPCOT, but wherever it goes it needs a re-think. In fact, relocation would be quite an opportunity to do something interesting with the show. Freed from original sponsor General Electric, the attraction could show how a wide variety of technologies have improved our lives rather than just focusing on consumer appliances.
What’s more, I think that the attraction should take the opportunity of a rehab to incorporate social advancements as well as technological progress. Technology, as wonderful as it can be, is useless unless it’s accompanied by human enlightenment. In fact, those two forces often interact with each other, acting as complement or counterpoint throughout history. At the turn of the century, mother Sarah could be a suffragette. At midcentury, daughter Patricia could be off to a civil rights march. In the modern day, son Jimmy could be working for an environmental preservation group. It wouldn’t need to be preachy, but it would be nice to say that technology is useful for pushing advancement and good for something besides making it easier for Mom to do the laundry.
But whatever they do, Father needs to knock it off with the Carnival of Souls look. That’s just scary.