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WDI's "Carousel of Projects" looks to put a new spin on the D23 EXPO's Parks & Resort pavilion

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WDI's "Carousel of Projects" looks to put a new spin on the D23 EXPO's Parks & Resort pavilion

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So what was the very best part of the original D23 EXPO? To be honest, that depended on what aspect of the Walt Disney Company most excites you.

For fans of Disney's live-action movies, it would be hard to top that moment from the Studio Showcase when the wreckage of a sailing ship slowly rotated, revealing Johnny Depp in full Captain Jack Sparrow regalia.

For those who love Disney & Pixar's animated features, John Lasseter rolling clips from the then-still-in-production "The Princess and The Frog" and "Toy Story 3" was pretty amazing. While for theme park fans, when that magic portal inside of the Disney Parks & Resort's pavilion opened ...

... and you could then make your way into this massive display space and check out all manner of model for Cars Land at Disney California Adventure theme park ...

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... that portion of the 2009 edition of the D23 EXPO will be really hard to beat.

But the folks at Walt Disney Imagineering, they love a challenge. Which is why they genuinely tried to step up their game with the "Carousel of Projects." Put a whole new spin on the Parks & Resort pavilion for this year's EXPO.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"So what sort of exhibits can Official Disney Fan Club members expect to find when they visit the 'Carousel of Projects' later this week?," you ask. When I first spoke with David Fisher, the veteran Imagineer who's serving as Senior Show Producer on this D23 EXPO display, he was deliberately coy. Sharing as few details as possible when it came to the Disney Parks & Resorts pavilion.

Take - for example - what happened when I asked if this WDI-produced exhibit would feature some Living Character Initiative figures like Lucky the Dinosaur ...

Photo by Angela Ragno

... and WALL-E for D23 members to interact with.

Photo by Angela Ragno

Fisher's taciturn reply to my question was: "Yep. We're going to have something like that at this year's EXPO. Something new, though."

But over the course of yesterday's phone call, I was eventually able to pry some additional details out of David. In particular how the "Carousel of Projects" will honor that classic theme park attraction, "Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress."

"Just like with the Carousel of Progress, the exhibits featured in the 'Carousel of Projects' will be presented in a circular space. And while it was impossible for us to actually rotate the Anaheim Convention Center, we do have an illusion in our pre-show that pays tribute to the way the original Carousel changed scenes," Fisher explained.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

As for the exhibits that will be on display in this circular space, David stressed that - this time around - D23 members should expect to see more artifacts than art at Disney's Parks & Resorts pavilion.

"You have to understand that we're much further along with the construction of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street than we were back in 2009. So this time around, we're not going to have just pieces of art and models on display. We're going to show D23 members full-sized figures & props from these new DCA 'Lands.' Which will hopefully give Official Disney Fan Club members a far better understanding of what to expect once Cars Land and Buena Vista Street officially open for business next year," Fisher continued.

Speaking of Buena Vista Street, David urged D23 members who are theme park enthusiasts to check out Saturday's presentation on Stage 28. Which is where Imagineers Lisa Girolami, Ray Spencer, and Coulter Winn will be discussing in depth Disney California Adventure's new entrance. Which is this idealized version of the Los Angeles that Walt Disney encountered when he first arrived in Southern California in 1923.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Stage 28 will also be where Lisa Girolami, Larry Nikolai and Chris Crump will be talking about DCA's newest attraction, 'The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure.' Rather than talking about the history of the development of this attraction, which has already been done to death on those "Little Mermaid" DVDs, Lisa, Larry and Chris are going to be talking about the actual design choices that they made, how individual scenes for this attractions were put together," Fisher stated.

Getting back to the Disney Parks & Resorts pavilion now ... David promised that the 'Carousel of Projects' would be a deliberate departure from the type of display that WDI created for the 2009 D23 EXPO.

"That exhibit was more of a linear experience. This time around, we've partnered with the Disney Cruise Line, the Aulani Resort & Spa and the Disney Vacation Club to create more of a free-form space at this year's EXPO that D23 members will genuinely feel compelled to explore. Then when you factor in the art & models that we'll have on display for Shanghai Disneyland, WDI's 'Carousel of Projects' is the one exhibit that every D23 member who's into theme parks should visit while they're at the EXPO."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Mind you, when I pressed David for additional details (like what sort of art & models from the Fantasyland expansion project that's currently underway at WDW's Magic Kingdom will be on display), he once again clammed up. Closing out yesterday's phone interview by saying:

"You have to understand that - as Imagineers - we're big fans of the Company's history, culture and traditions too. Which is why - when we went to put together the Parks & Resorts pavilion for this year's D23 EXPO - we deliberately set the bar very high. We wanted to top what WDI did back in 2009. And based on what I've seen so far, I think that we've actually accomplished that."

Later this week, you can decide for yourself whether the Imagineers actually topped themselves by touring the "Carousel of Projects," the Disney Parks & Resorts pavilion at the D23 EXPO.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

For further information on this three-day-long celebration of The Walt Disney Company, be sure and drop by the Official Disney Fan Club webpage & check out the master schedule for this soon-to-open event.

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  • Hey, speaking of Carousels....

    Isnt it about time for Carousel of Progress to get an update to their "family of the future" scene? Given that Grandma and Junior's "virtual reality" video game is now actually inferior to current video game consoles, Mother's clunky laptop has long been shelved in favor of much thinner notebooks and PDA smartphones, and voice recognition technology is standard fare for automobile stereos and GPS devices, I think its time Disney Imagineering start looking into their futuristic crystal ball once more.

  • @FettFan84:  They would have to re-record the entire show to update the storyline of the future.  Sure, they could modify some of the technology presented (such as the notebook and the video game, they did change the TV used to better suit the present), but the voice recognition part of the scene would require rewriting and re-recording the scene if removed.  Which is difficult to do considering that Father is voiced by the late Jean Shepherd (known for A Christmas Story) in the current version.  Well, if they do update Carousel of Progress, I say they should get Tom Selleck to voice Father.

  • @Jonathan, that's an excellent idea. Literally the best I've heard to do the narration, Tom Selleck.

  • It's time to take Carousel of Progress back to the past! The last think it needs is another update to the 2020s--the last scene should go back to the 1960s (or, my personal choice, the 1970s scene--one of my favorites) and restore the original Rex Allen voice for Father. Failing that, yes, I'll take Tom Selleck for the new (bleh!) 2020s version. Although I think it's time for them to build a 5th gate--a RetroWorld--where the old classic rides go to evoke a Disney World gone by, and which includes a skyway, a Mission to Mars, a Delta Dream Flight, Captain EO alternates with the original Magic Journeys, and the two story (or three story!) Carousel of Progress anchors the The World of Future Past, and perhaps is designed to alternate end scenes seasonally--doing the original World's Fair version (complete with GE Medallion Kitchen references)  in the summer and the 1970s in the fall and the 1980s in the winter and the 2000s in the spring. The 2nd story could restore the old Progress City model to it's former glory, and the 3rd story (or you could swap the two--or there could be a basement level) could be America Sings (perhaps with entrances on opposite sides, but both let out into Progress city).

    And Retroland should include a Disney Style Main Street that combines long-vanished stores from the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, including the Wizard of Bras and the Tobacco store (it doesn't actually have to sell tobacco, but could sell things like reprinted turn-of-the-20th-centry cigarette cards and bubblegum cigars).

    Of course, Retroland would have to be on the monorail, and apparently that costs hundreds of millions per mile so . . . it'll always just be something I'm pining for.

    And the Monsanto House of the future! Monsanto House of the Future must be in the Future Past land of Retroland. ;)

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