Wednesday, April 06, 2011



Once Walt Disney World in Florida opened  attention was focused on the new Florida park, and General Electric felt the 'Progress Story" had been well told in California and wanted the popular Carousel of Progress attraction to be moved to Disney's newest magic Kingdom.  With that move Disneyland would soon be left with a large EMPTY high guest capacity theater in Tomorrowland. During the late 60's and early 70's famed Imagineer Marc Davis developed dozens and dozens of possible audio animatronic based shows -and one that was loosely considered was a barn in Frontierland where musically talented animals would perform old time America favorite songs. This seems to be a combination of the proposed Ford "Cruise-O-Magic" Theater were animals would sing the benefits of Ford automobiles, as well as a distillation of Country Bear Jubilee which eventually became the Country Bear Jamboree.

 These frogs would soon be "heading' South"

Much of  Marc Davis' earliest work for the Frontierland Barn show featured mostly farm/ American West type animals --mostly in country and Old West clothing, but  very simple garb--a hat or a vest--maybe some overalls or a simple bonnet keeping the animals far more animal and less humanesque.
When the Carousel Theater became a future option, Marc Davis and Al Bertino took the "Animal Barn" show and began to fit it in to the multiple act theater format of the "Carousel of Progress" giving  it the working name "Carousel of Song". Disneyland and WED also knew of the pending American Bicentennial and wanted to tie that theme into the show resulting in the shows official hosts: Sam The Eagle & his sidekick Ollie The Owl. Disneyland wanted to be sure guest knew of it's patriotic theme and the "Carousel of Song" became "AMERICA SINGS"

Marc Davis and Al Bertino selected all the songs for the show --they listen to a lot of music and since neither could read music they hired a piano player who couldn't sing! Marc Davis said : "Al wasn't much help on that. he's an Italian --the only one who can't sing a tune!" They chose popular songs people  know --and stayed away from songs that dealt with war, but always looked to see if a gag or laugh could be brought out in the selected song.  The America Sings show came together in about two years.

This unused concept for the song "Bicycle Built for Two"
This was one of many ORIGINAL WED concept pieces the Disney Gallery SOLD in the late 80's!!

Several artists created concept art for the new Carousel Theater show

Marc's concepts are sculpted into reality

And...........if you thought the second level of the Carousel Theater was going to be neglected--you are very wrong! WED was considering several things for the top of America Sings including a Bicentennial exhibit, a restaurant and the UFO SHOW!!!

The UFO SHOW (the working name) was described by WED as in 1974 as: "a little something planned for upstairs of "America Sings" Here guests will travel in cars on direction, armed with air guns, while eerie, unhuman, gremlin-like targets pop up and dart the other direction. Upon completion the attraction will be the first "shooting Gallery" where the marksman's position moves as well as the target's
hmmmmmm 30 years before Buzz Lightyears Astro Blasters!!!

Above is your ticket to come back and ride the Swinging Carousel Theater as AMERICA SINGS opens in our America Sings Salute Mega post part 3!!!!


Major Pepperidge said...

Is the "UFO Show" an April Fools joke?? So strange if it is for real. Love the photos of Blaine Gibson with all of those sculpts, and am amazed at the idea of original WED concept art for sale. Pretty expensive, but understandably so. COOL!

Dan Alexander said...

I remember seeing the "Bicycle Built For Two" America Sings art for sale at Disneyland many years ago, and that is the only time I've seen it. Great story! And I love the art for "The UFO Show" which I had heard about, but have never seen.

I do have an America Sings question I hope you can answer. I have a Charles Boyer Splash Mountain poster, and it has a character in a top hat that looks like a male version of "The Old Grey Mare." The Sombrero Dog is also seen in the poster (on a geyser). Were these characters ever really in Splash Mountain?