Work is scheduled to start...


July 26, 1993|By Craig Dezern of The Sentinel Staff

- IF YOU COULD SEE TOMORROW. Work is scheduled to start Aug. 16 on the Tomorrowland of the future when Carousel of Progress is closed for a major overhaul - the first in its 30-year history.

Seen by an estimated 140 million visitors, Carousel is one of the best-traveled of Disney attractions. It started at the New York World's Fair of 1964-65, then moved to California's Disneyland before settling into the Magic Kingdom in 1975.

Originally sponsored by General Electric, the attraction traced the history of appliances through the home of an ageless, audio-animatronic family.

Humorist Jean Shepherd, author and narrator of A Christmas Story, has worked on a new script with Disney ''imagineers'' in California. Shepherd also will be the voice of the robotic father.

No longer accountable to GE, the Carousel will look at progress in other areas besides electricity and will evoke more of the eras represented.

The Carousel's final scene, set in the near future, will be updated so the marvels of modern technology are actually modern.

Disney purists need not worry that the Carousel will lose its identity. The changes look to the past as well as future.

A tribute to Walt Disney and the World's Fair will introduce the revised show, and the theme song, ''Now is the Best Time of Your Life,'' will be replaced by the show's original theme, ''There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.'' The tune was written by Richard and Robert Sherman, the song-writing brothers who wrote the music for Mary Poppins.

''It's a freshening of the show,'' said Sarona Soughers, a Disney publicist. ''You're not going to come in and say, 'Wow, it's a whole new show.' ''

Carousel is scheduled to reopen in November. By that time, work may have started that will change the face of Tomorrowland.

Maligned by some critics as sterile and dated, Tomorrowland will be getting a new look.

Anticipating what ''tomorrow'' will really look like is a difficult proposition. It runs the risk of becoming quickly dated by changing tastes and technology.

So Disney seems to be going after a look that could be described as ''yesterday's tomorrows'' - preliminary sketches show buildings with fins and domes and orbs and rings reminiscent of a Buck Rogers movie.

The insides are changing, too.

''Mission to Mars'' is out, replaced by ''Alien Encounter,'' in which a monstrous extraterrestrial runs amok. The Starjets will feature a new look, and a new Circlevision 360 film is planned.

Tomorrow's Tomorrowland should arrive in 1995.

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