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Tune Thursday: “Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair” pays musical tribute to long-ago shows

Tune Thursday: “Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair” pays musical tribute to long-ago shows

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New York, New York. It’s a Helluva town,
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down …

I have to admit that I’m genuinely looking forward to getting back to NYC this coming weekend. Where I’ll be one of the vendors selling vintage comic books at New York Comic-Con. But as exciting as this year’s NYCC will undoubtedly be, I doubt that it’ll be able to top that trip I made to the City back in 1964. When my family and I visited the New York World’s Fair.

Mind you, we didn’t do a quick hit-and-run trip. We spent a full week exploring the fairgrounds at Flushing Meadows. Visiting every exhibit & attraction that we could.


I’m guessing that it won’t startle JHM readers to learn that my favorite pavilions at the Fair were the four that Walt Disney & his Imagineers designed. I remember marveling at Rolly Crump’s Tower of the Four Winds at the entrance of it’s a small world. How all those wild & wacky shapes kept spinning in the breeze that blew across Queens.

As for it’s a small world itself … It was a very pleasant boat ride that my whole family enjoyed. Though – truth be told – I think that my parents liked the “Carousel of Progress” show at General Electric’s Progressland exhibit more.

As for Disney’s other two shows at the Fair … The Illinois pavilion and its “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” show was impressive. My brother just refused to believe that it wasn’t a real-live actor up there on stage playing our 16th President.


But as for our favorite show at the Fair … Hands down, that would have to be the Magic Skyway at Ford’s Wonder Rotunda. Or – as we liked to call it – the Dinosaur Ride. To sit behind the wheel of a shiny, new Ford Mustang and roll by a robotic brontosaurus … When you’re a young buy, life doesn’t get much better than that.

Though it’s been almost 45 years now since I explored Flushing Meadow, the New York World’s Fair is still fresh in my mind. Thanks – in large part – to the catchy music that I associate with Disney’s shows and attractions at the Fair.

Which is why I was thrilled to learn that Walt Disney Records will soon be releasing a 5-disc set that pays tribute to the 1964 New World’s Fair. Appropriately titled “Walt Disney and the 1964 World's Fair” (Disney, March 2009), this recording features over three hours of material. Not to mention a 24-page full color booklet loaded with concept art as well as great behind-the-scenes stories about the attractions & exhibits that Walt and his team of artists created.


Copyright 2009 Walt Disney Records. All Rights Reserved

This 5-CD set (which has been available in bootleg form for a number of years now) is a real treat for Disneyana history buffs. For it doesn’t just give you each attraction’s soundtrack. But – rather – all sorts of great historic tidbits.

Take – for example – the it’s a small world CD. On this disc, you don’t just get the 1964 New York World’s Fair version of this attraction’s soundtrack. You also get the Sherman Brothers’ demo recording of the it’s a small world theme song. Plus all the music from this ride’s entrance & queue area. Plus a copy of Walt Disney’s welcoming speech. Plus a copy of the soundtrack for the version of it’s a small world that opened at Disneyland Paris back in April of 1992.

This 5-disc set redefines the idea of being thorough. Virtually every aspect of the four shows that Walt Disney created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair is touched on in these CDs. You can hear an early script reading for the “Carousel of Progress” or Royal Dano recording his dialogue for “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”


Copyright 1964 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

Okay. I’ll admit it. “Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair” is a bit on the pricey side. This Walt Disney Records box set’s retail price is $49.98 (Though Amazon.com is currently selling this 5-disc collection for 10% off or $44.98). But if you’re like me and still find periodically humming “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” you may have no choice by to buy this box set.

Speaking of tomorrow … As of tomorrow morning, I’ll be seated in Booth 2707 at the Jacob K. Javits Center. So if you’d like to see some vintage Disney comics from the 1940s & 1950s, please come on by.

Of course, if you can’t make to this year’s New York Comic-Con, you can always check out gregwhitecomics.com. Where you’ll find a wide selection of pop culture items available for purchase.


The Unisphere as it is today, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Just don’t try and get ahold of me on Monday. After spending three days cooped up in that convention center, I think that I’ll probably need some fresh air. So if you’re looking for me then, please head on over to Queens. To Flushing Meadow, to be exact. Where I’ll be reliving some very fond memories by strolling around the Unisphere.

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  • Nice advertisement for your booth at Comic Con.  

    Would have enjoyed more on the contents of the CD package instead.

    Oh, well.

  • Indeed, this was a project started by Bruce Gordon. In his absence, it has been picked up and finally completed by Randy Thornton, who was also the mastermind of the A Musical History of Disneyland set.

    Randy has made it very clear that the bootleg version that has circulated for some time is nowhere near what is being released- not only is there more material, remastered and of a much higher quality, but for the mixes they went even further than the masters, back to the original studio recordings and rebuilt everything from scratch.

    The set should be a great piece of nostalgia for those who were there, and for those who weren't it's an interesting part of Disney history, and will give people a chance to see what some of their favorite attractions were like in their earlier form (Carousel of Progress, It's a Small World, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, The Peoplemover (Magic Skyway), Primeval World (Magic Skyway), etc). It was originally supposed to be released this week but has been delayed due to manufacturing issues.

  • $50 really isn't all that pricey for a 5-disc set.  That's only $10 a disc.  =)

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