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Today in Disney History: 1964 New York World’s Fair Opened 50 Years Ago Today

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

You may have noticed the beautiful artwork that’s appearing above on the blog today – and it’s all in honor of the 50th anniversary of the April 22 opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
Artwork by Disney Legend John Hench

It was for this World’s Fair that Walt Disney and his team designed several attractions that would eventually make their way into Disney theme parks, including “it’s a small world,” Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Ford Magic Skyway (part of which would become the Primeval World along Disneyland Railroad).

Walt’s involvement with the World’s Fair gave his team new opportunities to develop innovative technology and Audio-Animatronics figures that would take Disney attractions to a new level. It also gave us Disney Parks fans a few Sherman Brothers songs that we’ve come to cherish over the years: “it’s a small world (after all)” for the “it’s a small world” attraction and “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” for Carousel of Progress.

Be sure to check out original World’s Fair attraction sketches and artwork from the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library in our header section above.

Read more about Disney attractions at the World’s Fair in the posts below:


  • I rode It’s a Small World at the 1964 World Fair. I was only 3 years old but when I finally had the chance to visit Disneyland as an adult in my 40’s ) I was so excited to relive the experience. It’s still one of my favourite rides.

    • How nice!

  • I remember going to the World’s Fair as a big school trip and we wore our school uniforms. Small World was one of the big attractions. Remember riding in a car, maybe it was the Ford exhibit and we made my Grandpa get behind the wheel because he did not drive. Hard to beleive it’s 50 years.

    • What fun memories!

  • I hit there the wrong button and finished my post but not my thought! There was a funny, memorable event when we were on the bus with our group on our way to NYC. It was my first trip to NYC. I couldn’t believe the size of the bridge we were crossing. I had never seen a bridge that big in CT. I went up to the bus driver and asked him if it was the Golden Gate Bridge! LOL! He was quick to point out that it was the Bronx Whitestone Bridge!! I’ll never forget that or the Fair! We now live in Orlando and get to see our beloved Disney every day if we want!

  • As I sadly give my age away, I was 8 and living in CT and we went to the World’s Fair in NYC in 1964. I was in awe of two things in particular. One was “It’s a Small World” and the other was Michelangelo’s Pieta!

  • Some of my first memories in life! I was 4 when my parents took me to the Worlds Fair. I remember riding a subway for the first time, The World Globe, seeing Bob Hope on stage, and the tap dancing pack of cigarettes! (leggy women in a cigarette pack costume) and most of all… The Carousel of Progress! 🙂

  • I have faint memories of each of those rides. My parents took 2 of my cousins and me to the Worlds Fair that year. A once in a lifetime experience.

    • Hold on to those memories! 🙂

  • me and my friends lived in queens. we decided to get jobs there so it would be easier to see the worlds fair. at the time i was 17 and remember it well especially all of disneys exhibits they attracted the most people. to this day every time we go to disney (28 years now) we make sure we go to carusel of progress and small world and of course honest abe

  • The Carousel of Progress has always been my favorite at WDW. Particularly, “Now is the time! Now is the best time! Now is the best time of your life…”

    • 🙂

  • Carousel of Progress is one of my favorites! I love that Walt was so involved in a World’s Fair. His father helped build the white city for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair too!

    • Yes, I did know that! That’s a very cool fun fact.

  • I was coincidentally going back through old YouTubes of Vancouver Expo ’86 (trying to find an attraction I remembered from my best trip there), and was struck by why we don’t have World’s Fairs anymore–
    Everyone knew that Vancouver’s was going to be the “last one in North America”, but apart from a Japanese one in the late 90’s, we haven’t had that many since. There’d been one in Tennessee in ’82, and one in New Orleans in ’84 (neither one had done well), but the late 80’s seems to be the cutoff date…Right around the time “Old-School” Epcot was becoming popular.

    Maybe Walt saw his old ’64 NYC dream come true, and his little Epcot in central Florida really DID become “The permanent World’s Fair”.

  • Oops I meant “unobscured?”

  • Anyway to post all those beautiful pieces of fair art as a blog entry of their own so can we see them all Iobscured?

  • Born in the same year, I always felt to have a connection with this great attraction. That’s the reasons I always have to ride the Carousel of Progress many times when being at WDW. Hope to do it again in November on my next trip to the beautiful world of WDW.

  • When I brought up the Disney Parks Blog today I was greeted by a great big beautiful logo celebrating the 50th anniversary of Carousel of Progress. I am loving the New York World’s Fair artwork you all are sharing in the header section! Thanks for letting us join in on the celebrations of some of Walt Disney’s most impressive attractions. 😀

    • Thank YOU, Bob. 🙂

  • ^ Danielle (post #1) I agree with you 100%, it would be awesome to go back and visit the 64 Worlds Fair.

  • If I could get in a time machine, I’d go to the Fair. I didn’t exist back then, but have always been fascinated with images and stories of the NYWF. I will pay my own tribute later next week when I spin around singing, “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” in the Carousel of Progress.

    • Sounds like the best way to celebrate!

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