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A Closer Look at the Progress City Model at Magic Kingdom Park

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

If you’ve ever experienced the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, the view below should be pretty familiar.

Walt's Progress City Model at Magic Kingdom Park

It’s Progress City, the model community you pass while aboard the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover at Magic Kingdom Park. I always wished the ride vehicle would slow down a bit at this part so I could really admire this glittering “community of tomorrow.” (Thanks, Gene Duncan, for taking this great shot!).

The model, which is described in the attraction as: “Walt Disney’s dream for an experimental prototype community of tomorrow,” is actually an important piece of Disney history. It originated at Disneyland park and was previously a piece of that park’s Carousel of Progress from 1967-1973. In that version of the attraction, the final holiday gathering scene offered a glimpse of Progress City off in the distance through the windows behind the Audio-Animatronics figures. Afterward, guests would head up to the carousel’s second floor, where they could explore an entire 6,900-square-foot model of the city. The Progress City you see on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover route, is a portion of that model.

When was your last visit to Progress City?

Comments

  • We visit WDW every year, sometimes with a group of as many as 21! We ride the “People Mover” at least 2 or three times — sometimes just to cool off! We stumbled into the Carousel of Progress because of long lines at nearby rides and loved it! We make sure to visit it every year!

  • It would be great if you posted a picture of the original as installed above the Carousel of Progress. I don’t think many people are aware that it was cut down to fit in the space along the PeopleMover! :)

  • When I was growing up, Disney always managed to inspire that sense of awe at what the future might bring. To some degree with the Monorail and Tomorrowland, the WEDWay PeopleMover, and Progress City, but even moreso with the original incarnation and rides of EPCOT (especially Spaceship Earth, Horizons, and World of Motion.)

    At the end of WoM was a much larger city model called CenterCore. (What happened to that model?) It was beautiful and inspiring and the ride would take you right through it. I still remember the first time I saw it, and immediately afterwards how I couldn’t wait for that Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow.

    I would love for Disney to push that vibe a little more.

  • Christmas 2010…my favorite time to go to WDW. The People Mover is my husband’s favorite attraction. I loved the history lesson about the Carousel of Progress…one of my favorite attractions. I only wish they still played the song that went…”Now is the time…now is the best time of your life…” My mom and sister and I use to love to sing that.

  • This is my favorite sight along the Peoplemover track. I just wish the ride went slower at this point!

  • 😮 I have never gone on this ride. Ever. I thought it was just a people mover. Wow…being that I love futuristic city planning and architecture, I feel like I’ve really missed out.

    Time to plan another Disney trip! :)

  • I do the Peoplemover ride while everyone else I am with are doing Space Mountain. You can get in go around and put your feet up. In fact my husband has started riding it with me because it gives you a few minutes off your feet.

  • Notice in the left hand part of the picture there is an amusement park. Recreation and time with Family is important. Did anyone catch the nod to Walt Disney and the EPCOT drawing in the second Ironman Movie?

  • If this is only a portion of the original model, where is the rest of it? Can we see that as well somewhere?

  • Our last visit was back in August 2004, but we will be visiting Progress City again in January!

  • Thanks to Justin, Eric, and George on the insight. That is what I have read as well.

    **Thanks WDW! I love all the Disney history that has been coming from here; please keep it up!**

    I saw this model this past May and will do so again this November. The PeopleMover is a must on every trip!

  • Justin’s right. This was Walt’s vision of EPCOT. He originally started ‘The Florida Project’ to bring his vision to life. Sadly he died before a single brick was laid on the land, and Roy took over, changing the name of the projects from ‘Disney World’ to Walt Disney World’ in honor of his brother.

  • Last time I saw the Progress City Model was in the mid 70’s when WED was getting ready to update Carousel of Progress for it’s new location at Walt Disney World. America Sings was going to replace it at Disneyland. The City’s new location was not as big, and the model had to be cut down quite a bit. The sections that were removed had to be cut up per company policy back then. Fond memories of it at Disneyland and hope it still exists at walt Disney World.

  • I would love to be able to buy a smaller model of this from one of the gift shops. Or even a poster print. Too bad there isn’t a Lego set where you could build your own version.

  • That’s cool! :)

    How do you made the model for Progress City?

  • Saw it yesterday actually!
    Went with friends to The Magic Kingdom, I love riding the PeopleMover. It’s probably my favorite ride in Tommorrowland.
    I know, blasphemy that it’s not Space Mountain.

    The model does look a bit old and dusty, do they restore it or keep it as it was to preserve the way it looked back then?

  • There hasn’t been any city for, or since that has solved all of the problems that Walt’s E.P.C.O.T. has.

    I have actually started a family entertainment company, and it is my life’s dream to make this city a true reality.

    Did you know that Walt Disney envisioned monorails that went through downtown Los Angeles?

    Do you know how badly Los Angeles NEEDS monorails?!

    L.A. County has so many smaller cities – Santa Monica, Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, and all of it’s cities therein, etc…

    The bus system isn’t so great, and is mostly carcinogenic.

    Monorails are beautiful, sleek, environmentally friendly, and if done right, cost effective.

    In addition, Walt’s vision of the transportation hub, making the pedestrian king is something that he perfected, that city planners are still trying to replicate, and are failing.

    There are so many reasons why the Walt Disney Company should do whatever it can to create E.P.C.O.T. You folks TOTALLY have any resources this planet could provide you.

    If I can’t make it happen, than, well, someone needs to! 😀

  • Like Justin says, the reason Epcot was originally called “Epcot Center” when it opened was that one of Walt’s original main tourist/business draws for “Progress City” was going to be a permanent standing World’s Fair & Convention Center for corporations to license their latest presentations and prototypes.
    That basically became Innoventions, and World Showcase and the Future buildings became the “World’s Fair”, even if we never got the rest of the city attached.
    (For those who saw the movie “Iron Man 2”, and recognized the retro “homage” to Walt’s city-blueprint film, just consider that at one point, there was reportedly an idea floated around the Disney/Marvel connection to theme part of Innoventions around the fictional Stark Expo.)

    My first visit to Epcot was only two years after the last real North American World’s Fair in Vancouver, ’87, and that was back when Epcot was still “old-school”…I’ve always had no problems understanding Walt’s original “World’s Fair” idea, but it’s sometimes hard to get the younger generation to grasp it.

  • I always ride the WEDway peoplemover so I can see Progress City. It’s one of my favorite things in TomorrowLand. I saw it last in January, and I’ll see it again in December. (115 days to be exact!)

  • One great thing about Disney is the sense of history. Instead of taking something like this model and discarding it, they found a way to reuse it. Who would of thought back when this was made that it would still be enjoyed by people so many years later.

    The other thing that is really amazing is the scope and vision of the whole Epcot project. It is truly inspiring and I hope that the Imagineers of today can continue to strive for such visions of tomorrow.

  • One of those pictures I wish I capture for the Main Street Gazette. I don’t suppose Gene would be willing to show me how he obtained this shot when I’m there in September? ha ha ;^)

    Still a great piece of Disney history, and a gorgeous photograph to boot! Thanks Jennifer!

  • This model actually represents the city of EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), designed by Walt Disney. Walt hoped to build this magnificent futuristic city in Florida, where the Walt Disney World Resort is located, but after he died in 1966, these plans were abandoned.

    Shown in the picture above is only a small fraction of the original model. It depicts the innermost rings of this radial city. The “Green Belt”, mostly occupied by community areas and recreational places, surrounds the Cosmopolitan Hotel at the center. At the base of the hotel is the international shopping and dining center, similar to World Showcase at the Epcot theme park. This would have been entirely indoors and domed in some places, for climate control.

    Extending from the center of EPCOT is a myriad of futuristic modes of transportation, including monorails and WEDway PeopleMovers.

    It’s too bad Walt’s dream never fully came to fruition, but this model offers us all a glimpse at what our future might have been.

  • I remember seeing it in Disneyland as a kid.

    Didn’t the trains and some of the cars move or was that just my youthful imagination?

  • I vividly remember the model when it was at Disneyland COP.

    Guests in the final “scene” of the carousel would walk “forward and into the stage show area” and “travel and rise up” to the second floor. Truly genius on the part of WED to create such symbolism of having Guests “progressing into the future”.

  • Jennifer:

    Thank you for this little history lesson, I love them.

    Last ride was in Dec. 2010, but we will be their next week to ride it again!

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