March 21, 2014

1964 World's Fair

A classic poster from the 1964 World's Fair. Credit: pds209 via Tumblr / Flickr Creative Commons


  • Neal Gabler, author of Walt Disney: Triumph of the American Imagination

It’s the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 50th anniversary of two extraordinary Disney projects: Mary Poppins and the 1964 World's Fair, both of which featured eye-popping technology.

Neal Gabler, author of Walt Disney: Triumph of the American Imagination says that Mary Poppins was one of Disney’s favorite films, and in it, he refined a new process of combining animation and live action. He actually wrote to his sister during production of the film, explaining how important the project was to him.

Meanwhile, the 1964 World’s Fair was a showcase for Disney’s inventions. He premiered audio-animatronics in the “Carousel of Progress” exhibit, which featured a number of scenes on the history of technology in America.

“He was always looking toward the horizon–what’s next,” Gabler says. In later years, Disney turned his attention to urban planning.  He wanted to use technology to improve American cities as well as cities across the world.

During the World’s Fair, he even tried to convince Robert Moses, the great New York City planner, to put a monorail in New York City. (Moses said no.)

Gabler relates a story told by Blaine Gibson, who worked on the animatronics for the World’s Fair: Gibson would finish working on the animatronics around 2 am, and he'd glimpse Disney in pajamas and bathrobe, reviewing the animatronic characters or working on another project. 

After the World’s Fair, many of the animatronic characters were moved to Disneyland, where they continue to share the story of a "Small World" (a ride that was originally developed for the Fair), bursting with technological possibilities.

World's Fair, Sci and Tech, Disney, Culture, Mary Poppins, Neal Gabler, Disneyland, Walt Disney

Previous Post

Art, Tech, and Rock n' Roll

Next Post

The People Powering AI Decisions

comments powered by Disqus