Imagineering Innovations that made Disney Parks What They Are Today


Imagineering Innovations that made Disney Parks What They Are Today

Six decades ago, the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair wasn’t just about the future – it was a glimpse into a future envisioned by Walt Disney and his team of Imagineers. They didn’t just showcase what was to come, they revolutionized theme park experiences with four groundbreaking attractions that continue to influence Disney magic today!

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One of these iconic experiences was the Carousel of Progress, sponsored by General Electric. This time-traveling ride used stunning animatronic displays to whisk guests through the evolution of the American home, from the gaslights of the 1890s to the modern marvels of the 1940s. It wasn’t just a trip down memory lane – it reflected Walt Disney’s core values, celebrating progress and innovation while cherishing the past. The Carousel of Progress not only holds the distinction of being the oldest Walt Disney World attraction originally worked on by Walt himself, but it also continues to charm audiences with its timeless message and the Sherman Brothers’ classic tune, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

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Soaring through the Ford Motor Company’s Wonder Rotunda was Magic Skyway, named Disney’s “Highway in the Sky.” This pioneering ride used the innovative Omnimover system to take guests on a breathtaking journey through time. Buckled into futuristic Ford vehicles, they soared past prehistoric creatures and historical landmarks, experiencing a transportation evolution unlike any other. The Omnimover system’s legacy lives on in beloved Disney classics around the world, including the Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, and the recently opened Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Interestingly, the Ford pavilion also featured a display of miniature international villages, which directly influenced the conceptualization of EPCOT’s World Showcase that debuted seventeen years later.


Created as a heartwarming tribute to children everywhere, “it’s a small world” debuted at the Pepsi-Cola pavilion for UNICEF. This iconic ride became a Disney landmark, dazzling guests with Mary Blair’s vibrant colors and whimsical designs. Alice Davis’s charming costumes and Marc Davis’s innovative figures brought the world to life with delightful animation.

Following the World’s Fair, the original attraction, complete with its signature water trough finale, made its way to Disneyland, where it continues to be a cherished experience. Disney fans around the world can enjoy variations of “it’s a small world,” all inspired by Mary Blair’s artwork, at five different parks: Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland.


The State of Illinois pavilion became home to a technological marvel: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Imagineers used the groundbreaking Audio-Animatronics technology to create the world’s first fully animated human figure – President Abraham Lincoln himself! Lincoln’s lifelike movements and speech set a new bar for immersive storytelling, leaving audiences mesmerized!

The attraction’s success was undeniable. Even before the 1964-65 World’s Fair closed, Imagineers were busy crafting a Disneyland version. It debuted on July 18, 1965, ensuring that even more guests could experience this innovative encounter with history.


Even 60 years later, the magic of the 1964-65 World’s Fair lives on in every corner of Disney parks around the globe. These groundbreaking experiences laid the foundation for beloved classics like Pirates of the Caribbean and continue to inspire modern marvels like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Here, cutting-edge technology and immersive storytelling push the boundaries of theme park experiences.

But Disney doesn’t rest on its laurels. While we celebrate the past, our Imagineers are already looking ahead. The pioneering spirit that brought these iconic attractions to life continues to shape the magic of tomorrow. Get ready for even more incredible experiences that will redefine what theme parks can be!

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