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Cleansing the Past, Selling the Future: Disney’s Corporate Exhibits at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair
Unformatted Document Text:  Disney, 3 products in the name of technological progress and a bright future. In 1964, the major U.S. corporations at the Fair sought to improve on what they had done and learned in 1939, with pavilions such as Ford’s “Magic Skyway,” General Motor’s “Futurama,” and General Electric’s “Progressland.” During the years and months prior to the Fair’s opening day, the challenge for companies such as Ford, GM, and GE, was to find a way entrance and entertain visitors in their pavilions all the while reflecting favorably on their corporate identity and introducing their newest product lines. Two of these companies, Ford and General Electric, hired Walt Disney and his imagineers for this task. Disney designed and produced four features for the 1964 New York World's Fair: Ford’s “Magic Skyway;” “The Carousel of Progress” for General Electrics “Progressland” pavilion; “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” for the State of Illinois; and “It’s a Small World,” co-sponsored by Pepsi and UNESEF. The Carousel of Progress was the one attraction that Walt Disney himself was the most involved in creating and in which his ideas of “progress and the American family” were said to be most embodied. Both the Carousel and the Skyway offered narratives that connected past technological innovation to promising, corporate-friendly futures. This paper analyzes Disney’s corporate exhibits at the Fair by looking specifically at the history of these two exhibits. The purpose of this analysis is to draw attention to the unique elements of these installations and what they offered in the way of corporate versions of American popular culture, particularly how technology is deployed at a multitude of dimensions to engulf visitors within an experience of the dominant discourses of consumption, technology, and progress. The coming together of Disney’s legacy of nostalgic entertainment achieved via his desire and skill in “improving” the past (whether in cartoons or Disneyland rides) with the equally strong desire of corporate giants to sell themselves and their products is presented here as a historical case study of the creation of culture/experiences of culture and how specific discourses of technology and consumption

Authors: Lillie, Jonathan.
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Disney, 3
products in the name of technological progress and a bright future. In 1964, the major U.S. corporations
at the Fair sought to improve on what they had done and learned in 1939, with pavilions such as Ford’s
“Magic Skyway,” General Motor’s “Futurama,” and General Electric’s “Progressland.”
During the years and months prior to the Fair’s opening day, the challenge for companies such as
Ford, GM, and GE, was to find a way entrance and entertain visitors in their pavilions all the while
reflecting favorably on their corporate identity and introducing their newest product lines. Two of these
companies, Ford and General Electric, hired Walt Disney and his imagineers for this task. Disney
designed and produced four features for the 1964 New York World's Fair: Ford’s “Magic Skyway;”
“The Carousel of Progress” for General Electrics “Progressland” pavilion; “Great Moments with Mr.
Lincoln” for the State of Illinois; and “It’s a Small World,” co-sponsored by Pepsi and UNESEF. The
Carousel of Progress was the one attraction that Walt Disney himself was the most involved in creating
and in which his ideas of “progress and the American family” were said to be most embodied. Both the
Carousel and the Skyway offered narratives that connected past technological innovation to promising,
corporate-friendly futures. This paper analyzes Disney’s corporate exhibits at the Fair by looking
specifically at the history of these two exhibits. The purpose of this analysis is to draw attention to the
unique elements of these installations and what they offered in the way of corporate versions of
American popular culture, particularly how technology is deployed at a multitude of dimensions to
engulf visitors within an experience of the dominant discourses of consumption, technology, and
progress.
The coming together of Disney’s legacy of nostalgic entertainment achieved via his desire and
skill in “improving” the past (whether in cartoons or Disneyland rides) with the equally strong desire of
corporate giants to sell themselves and their products is presented here as a historical case study of the
creation of culture/experiences of culture and how specific discourses of technology and consumption


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