Disney’s Carousel of Progress New “Woke” Scene Enrages Fans

Disney World is reportedly making some modifications to the Carousel of Progress attraction at Magic Kingdom Park in an effort to make the experience less offensive, but many say the changes are anything but progress.

RELATED: Tom Hanks to Be the New Voice of Disney’s Carousel of Progress Attraction

When General Electric approached Walt Disney about the prospect of creating attractions for its pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, Walt was thrilled to be collaborating yet again with the innovative company. Disney and GE had previously worked on plans for an extension of Main Street, U. S. A., at Disneyland, called Edison’s Square. Ultimately, the idea was scrapped as the technology necessary to bring Walt’s ideas for the expansion to fruition simply wasn’t available at that time. But he never completely forgot about it and used his plans for Edison’s Square as the inspiration for one of the four attractions he contributed to the General Electric pavilion during the Fair.

The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair

Tom Hanks to Replace Current Voice in Carousel of Progress Attraction: Rumor - Disney Dining

Credit: Disney

The rekindled Disney-General Electric partnership led to the development of four attractions: it’s a small world, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, Ford’s Magic Skyway, and the Carousel of Progress. The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair was held in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, New York, from April to October 1964 and again from April to October 1965. Housed inside the General Electric pavilion called”Progressland,” the Carousel of Progress attraction opened on April 22, 1964, to inquisitive fairgoers, and the response was overwhelming. The attraction accommodated approximately 200 visitors every four minutes. It was so popular, however, that despite the quick turnaround, it was not uncommon for eager guests to wait more than an hour in line for the attraction–many in the brutal heat of late spring and summer.

For the second season of the World’s Fair in 1965, a covered queue was built adjacent to the General Electric pavilion on an open lot in an effort to keep visitors out of the sometimes scorching sun, as Disney’s Carousel of Progress was equally as popular as it had been the year before, and wait times were sometimes high.

disney's carousel of progress attraction at the new york world's fair with crowds

Credit: Disney Archives

A Unique Stage Show Experience

The attraction features a unique stage show with various acts, each one performed on a different part of a stationary stage that is partitioned off from the rest of the stage. At the end of each act, the audience seating area rotates around the stage, much like a carousel. (Hence, the name “Carousel” of Progress.) The show made use of animatronic human figures that moved in sync with a recorded script. Each act highlighted electricity and its effects on man’s progress over the years. In the original version, the acts took place in the 1880s, 1920s, 1940s, and 1964, the first year of the New York World’s Fair. It was so popular that following the conclusion of the fair, Disney had the massive attraction dismantled and moved across the country to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, where it opened to park Guests in July 1967.

disney's carousel of progress

The Carousel of Progress in the 1960s/Credit: Disney Archives

The Carousel of Progress wowed Guests at Disneyland until 1973, when it was closed so that it could be moved to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park, where it reopened in 1975. Then in 1993, it was renamed “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress” to honor Walt. The attraction today is a 21-minute production with the same premise—a look at the role electricity and technology have played in man’s progress, though a few minor changes have been made over the years, most of them barely noticeable.

Are Controversial Changes Coming?

But some extremely noticeable changes are reportedly on their way for Disney’s Carousel of Progress–changes that many Guests see as less about progress and more about appeasing the so-called masses. According to the satirical report, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom will soon close to allow for a revamping of the final act of the stage show presentation. But the changes are being touted by some as extremely woke and even disrespectful to Walt Disney.

The presentation is comprised of four different acts, each one taking place in a different time period during the 20th century: springtime at the turn of the century, summertime in the 1920s, fall in the fabulous 1940s, and Christmastime in “the future,” though the date in the final scene isn’t specified. In 2023, however, the futuristic fourth scene is full of things from the past, including VR devices used for video games and a voice-activated oven.

And while many Guests agree that the scene for the final act is very outdated, major controversy is brewing over Disney’s proposed changes to the scene, which are reportedly happening as part of Disney’s efforts to not only update the experience but also to make it more relevant and inclusive. Current plans include setting the updated scene in the early 22nd century, but in a way that is considered controversial by many.

carousel of progress christmas scene

Credit: Flickr/Frank Phillippe

The current show depicts the family celebrating Christmas in the final scene, but Disney wants to see the family celebrating in “a more diverse, inclusive, and representative way.” The scene will take place during wintertime, as in the current version of the show. But instead of celebrating Christmas, the family will celebrate many holidays, including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ashura, and Diwali, in addition to Christmas.

In addition to the multi-holiday celebration, changes will reportedly take place among Disney’s animatronic humans in the scene. Patricia, the daughter of John and Sarah, will become the first-ever transgender animatronic at Disney World. Though the character has historically been referred to as “Patricia” or “Patty,” the revamp of the scene will have the character referred to as “he/him” and “Pat,” as the name is interchangeable and can serve as a male or female name.

An Audio-Animatronic man and dog sit in a house with the latest conveniences of the 1920s

A new animatronic will be added to the scene as well. Jimmy, the son of the Carousel of Progress family, will be joined by an audio-animatronic young man whose name is not known at this time. The new character will function as Jimmy’s boyfriend in the final scene of the stage show, allowing Disney to  The new character will be a young man who is Jimmy’s boyfriend in the scene. The addition of a new member of the family allows Disney to add diversity and a greater sense of inclusion to the nearly 60-year-old attraction originally created by Walt Disney himself.

, Fab History: Round and Round With Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Walt Disney with animatronic at Disney’s Carousel of Progress/Credit: Disney Archives

“The new scene update is proving to be controversial,” a report about the changes reads in part. “The Walt Disney Company continues to make decisions based on diversity, equity, and inclusion, rather than creating value for shareholders.”

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress has had more performances than any other stage show in the history of American theater, as Guests of the parks will recall from the script for the show, leading many to ask why Disney would make changes to such a wildly popular experience in the parks, especially one that came from the creativity and genius of Walt himself. Others are angry that such changes are being added when the focus of the attraction is the technological progress experienced throughout the years, not the religious affiliation, sexual identity, or sexual preferences of the fictional family in the attraction.

walt disney carousel of progress

Credit: Disney/Flickr/Becky Burkett/Canva

What do you think about these changes to the attraction? And how does it make you feel to read here that these “changes” are not actually planned for the Carousel of Progress, but rather, a satirical and hypothetical look at the types of changes that could be a possibility in the future–but haven’t even been talked about by Disney as of the time of this publication. The report referenced above was written as a satirical piece and is not part of legitimate Disney Parks news at this time.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!