Which of These Classic Disney Attractions Is Your Favorite?
Magic Kingdom is continually changing, but some aspects remain the same.
Imagineers have built some attractions with permanence, as they hearken back to the days of Walt Disney.
I’m talking about classics like It’s a Small World, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.
Which of these classic Disney attractions is best? Everyone will have an opinion, of course. Here’s how I view each one.
It’s a Small World
Perhaps no attraction comes with a better history than It’s a Small World.
In the build-up to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Pepsi-Cola Company’s original plans collapsed.
The powerful beverage company wanted a strong presence at the World’s Fair, the year’s seminal cultural event.
Actress Joan Crawford sat on the Board of Directors for Pepsi at the time. She suggested Walt Disney as someone who could create a Pepsi pavilion.
Even though Disney already had its hands full with three other pavilions and the event was less than a year away, Uncle Walt agreed.
Yes, in roughly 11 months, Disney and his Imagineers built a “little boat ride” that became one of the most recognizable cultural icons in the world.
It’s a Small World bears a message of peace and hope that resonates across generations, as parents share the joy of puppetry with children.
The song obviously receives the most attention from fans, as some in the music industry believe it’s the most played piece of music ever.
However, It’s a Small World features a great deal more. Virtually every country and people appear, and each scene delights with its positivity.
It’s a Small World embodies the best of Walt Disney.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
That 1964 World’s Fair impacted every attraction we’ll discuss today, which says everything about how dominant Disney was at the event.
The Wedway PeopleMover stems from Ford’s Magic Skyway.
Imagineers faced a challenge in satisfying customers at the exhibition. Disney needed to push through a lot of riders at a set pace.
You’re intimately familiar with the Omnimover concept today, but its genesis came at the World’s Fair.
As an offshoot of this premise, Imagineers created the PeopleMover, which would transport guests down a set path, thereby saving them the aggravation of walking.
You know the PeopleMover as a ride, but Uncle Walt envisioned something much more. This form of transportation would have anchored E.P.C.O.T.
Disney dreamt of a multi-phase transportation system, with guests driving to Orlando and parking on a lower floor out of sight.
Then, the main floor of the city of tomorrow would have employed monorails to move guests across vast distances.
For shorter jaunts, citizens and guests alike would ride the PeopleMover.
Yes, in some alternate reality, the PeopleMover is as ubiquitous as the escalator.
Alas, after Walt Disney died, his E.P.C.O.T. plans proved impossible.
So, park officials broke them off piecemeal to keep the ideas alive in some capacity.
The PeopleMover we know may seem limited by comparison, but it works brilliantly as a means of highlighting all the terrific attractions at Tomorrowland.
Plus, the ride pays tribute to Uncle Walt by displaying part of the Progress City model from the 1966 presentation.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Here’s another attraction that tracks back to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. In fact, it IS that attraction.
Walt Disney wanted to demonstrate how much technology had improved society throughout his lifetime.
So, he and his Imagineers spoke with General Electric about a pavilion attraction that would tell a story in four parts.
Each section of the movie theater would demonstrate “modern living” for an era, starting with the early 1900s.
That show debuted in 1964, yet its first three parts remain largely untouched more than 35 years later.
Imagineers have updated the “modern” portion in the fourth act to keep it current. That’s it.
Every other part of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress would have played the same if you’d visited that World’s Fair back in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.
Not coincidentally, longtime Magic Kingdom visitors have grown attached to Carousel of Progress.
Whenever rumors appear about the ride’s future, Disney fans threaten to riot.
This story still resonates, and it’s historically significant, too.
GE paid for the shipment of the Carousel of Progress to Disneyland. Later, the same parts transferred to Magic Kingdom.
Yes, the Carousel of Progress stage you watch today is the same one from 1964. How cool is that?
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Speaking of potential riots, a rumor in 2019 suggested that Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room might go away.
So many Disney fans expressed outrage that Disney took the unusual step of refuting the rumors…and discrediting the site that had triggered it.
None of that would happen unless Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room mattered to people.
Why do people love this silly little singalong show?
Back in the day, the Enchanted Tiki Room unveiled state-of-the-art technology.
Yes, this attraction introduced the world to Audio-Animatronics, a staple of any Disney theme park visit.
Many of the attractions that you love exist because Enchanted Tiki Room worked perfectly as proof of concept.
Of course, the show still charms after all these years. Since 1963, Jose, Pierre, Michael, and Fritz have entertained with their singing and joking.
The Enchanted Tiki Room opened with Magic Kingdom in 1971, and some version of it has anchored Adventureland ever since.
For a time, park officials made the regrettable switch to Under New Management, but audiences demanded the return of the original.
Honestly, that’s the summary of all four attractions. They matter so much to Disney fans that park managers cannot change them.
Which one is best? They’ve all stood the test of time. So, there’s no wrong answer here.
Personally, I’m a PeopleMover guy, but I revere the Carousel of Progress for its history and the message it represents.