‘Have to See It, Yet Boring’: Disney’s Robot Dramas Revisited
Cornfeld unpacks the “spectacle of contradictions” that is the Carousel of Progress, focusing on the varying narratives that surround this attraction. While some laud the attraction for its connections to Walt Disney himself—it is rumored to have been his personal favorite attraction—others celebrate it solely as a place to enjoy air conditioning or a mid-day nap. Guided by fan cultures that celebrate the Carousel as both Walt Disney’s brainchild and an object lesson in American history, this essay analyzes corporate histories that shed light on the formation of these narratives: a television broadcast through which Disney introduced Audio-Animatronics to the nation and a series of textual revisions made to the Carousel script throughout its half-century run. Attention to these histories underscores the production practices that shape what visitors “have to see” on the Carousel of Progress—and the promotional practices that shape how we look.
KeywordsDisney World Walt Disney Carousel of Progress World’s fairs Audio-Animatronics Robots Performance Feminism
- Banet-Weiser, Sarah. 2012. AuthenticTM: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
- Bierman, James. 1976. Disney’s ‘America Sings’. TDR: The Drama Review 20 (2): 63–72.Google Scholar
- ———. 1977. The Walt Disney Robot Dramas. The Yale Review 67 (2): 223–236.Google Scholar
- Capek, Karel. 2004. R.U.R. Trans. Claudia Novack-Jones. Reprint edition. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
- “Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.” Theme Park Insider (blog). https://www.themeparkinsider.com/reviews/walt_disney_world’s_magic_kingdom/carousel_of_progress/. Accessed 1 Oct. 2018.
- Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. 1985. More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Dalla Costa, Mariarosa, and Selma James. 1975. The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community. Bristol: Falling Wall Press.Google Scholar
- Eco, Umberto. 1995. Faith in Fakes: Travels in Hyperreality. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
- Gray, Jonathan. 2010. Texts That Sell: The Culture in Promotional Culture. In Blowing Up the Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Culture, ed. Melissa Aronczyk and Devon Powers, 307–326. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.Google Scholar
- Honan, William H. 1971. If You Gave Mickey Mouse $400-Million, Here’s How He’d Spend It. The New York Times, October 10. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/10/10/archives/if-you-gave-mickey-mouse-400million-heres-how-hed-spend-it-walt.html.
- Korkis, Jim. 2012. The Carousel of Progress Cast. USA Today, February 8.Google Scholar
- Leland, John. 2005. Hip: The History. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
- Lelyveld, Joseph. 1964. CHILDREN AT FAIR RIDE AND SHRIEK; And Some Get Very Weary Sooner or Later. The New York Times, April 26. https://www.nytimes.com/1964/04/26/archives/children-at-fair-ride-and-shriek-and-some-get-very-weary-sooner-or.html.
- Luske, Hamilton S. 1964. Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair. In Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Burbank: NBC.Google Scholar
- Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso. 2018. Poupées Électriques: Drame en Trois Actes, Avec une Préface sur le Futurisme. Reprint edn. Forgotten Books.Google Scholar
- Niles, Robert. 2018. What Are the Top No-Wait Attractions at Walt Disney World? Theme Park Insider, February 1. https://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201802/5926/.
- Schickel, Richard. 1997. The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney. Third ed. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.Google Scholar
- Schiesel, Seth. 1997. Once Visionary, Disney Calls Future a Thing of the Past. The New York Times, February 23. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/23/us/once-visionary-disney-calls-future-a-thing-of-the-past.html.
- Walt Disney World. “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.” Walt Disney World. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/magic-kingdom/walt-disney-carousel-of-progress/. Accessed 15 May 2018.
- “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (Orlando)—All You Need to Know Before You Go.” TripAdvisor. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34515-d8563168-Reviews-Walt_Disney_s_Carousel_of_Progress-Orlando_Florida.html. Accessed 1 Oct. 2018.
- “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress—Disney World.” Yelp. https://www.yelp.com/biz/walt-disneys-carousel-of-progress-lake-buena-vista. Accessed 1 Oct. 2018.