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Saturday, October 22, 2016

RARE 1973 WED Document on Moving the Carousel of Progress to WDW

By Ted Linhart




The Carousel of Progress is one of Walt Disney’s most beloved, iconic and celebrated attractions of all time. It is also perhaps the most well-traveled, having made a nearly 5,000-mile journey from the New York World’s Fair in Queens, NY to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA in 1967 and then to Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL in 1974. Join us today for an exclusive, inside look at the cost for the move from California to Florida courtesy of a rare, 1973 WED Enterprises document. It took careful planning to ensure there would be a great big beautiful tomorrow at Walt Disney World for years to come...




Disneyland Carousel of Progress advertisement, 1968




By the early 1970s General Electric, the Carousel’s sponsor, was frustrated with attendance levels at Disneyland and the fact that a large portion of the audience consisted of repeat visitors from California who were already exposed to the company’s message. They wanted the show moved to the brand new Walt Disney World in Florida where visitors were more likely to be from all over the country and even the world. And so, a new carousel theater building was designed to house the attraction in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland as seen here in 1974...









The cost of moving the classic attraction, designed by Walt Disney himself and said to be his favorite, is detailed in this rare, 1973 WED document. Let's take a look...

 


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On the front cover of the document, seen above, is a copy of a letter dated May 2, 1973 which is on WED Imagineering / Wed Enterprises letterhead with the address of 1401 Flower Street, Glendale California. There is a phone number of 245-8951. Walt Disney Imagineering is still located at that location. The letter is addressed to J.G. (Jim) Rebeta of General Electric at 570 Lexington Avenue in New York which is still known as the GE Building. The letter is signed by Disney Legend Orlando Ferrante who was VP of Administration and Production at the time. Among the people the document is addressed to are Imagineer John Hench, CEO Donn Tatum and President Card Walker.

The letter reads in full: “After reviewing the Carousel of Progress show and facility with our design and construction personnel, we now feel that the show will be operational by December 1974 (this would not happen as the attraction opened on 1/15/1975 in conjunction with Space Mountain). Attached are two copies of our proposal, which includes a not-to-exceed figure for construction of the total attraction to be billed as spent. For your information, we have also included our projected cash flow for the construction cost. Looking forward to seeing you and Dave on the 16th.”

The letter is stamped “Received May 3 1973 Mel Melton’s office“ which indicates that this was his copy. Melton was a Disney VP who coined the term MAPO for the Imagineering design and manufacturing group based on the first two letters in the name of Mary Poppins...




A MAPO sticker found on older Disney attractions featuring the Mary Poppins logo




The title page, which is the first page inside the report, reads “General Electric Attraction Estimated Cost Proposal Disneyland & Walt Disney World. WED Enterprises May 1, 1973”...




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The next page outlines the contents of the report. It states:

 “PROPOSED 1) GENERAL ELECTRIC WILL SPONSOR NEW VERSION OF CARROUSEL (that is an actual misspelling from the document) OF PROGRESS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD FOR FIVE YEAR PERIOD STARTING CHRISTMAS 1974. 2) DISNEY WILL OPERATE GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATRE AT DISNEYLAND FROM JUNE 23 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 9, 1973 CHARGING GENERAL ELECTRIC FOR OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE COSTS ONLY.” 

COST TO GENERAL ELECTRIC. WALT DISNEY WORLD:  CONSTRUCTION COSTS FOR TOTAL ATTRACTION OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE – (ACTUAL COST). AN ANNUAL FEE. DISNEYLAND: OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE FROM JULY 23 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 9, 1973 (SEE PAYMENT SCHEDULE).

The Carousel did indeed shut down at Disneyland on 9/9/73 and it appears that Disney wanted to keep GE happy by charging them only the costs of running the show during its final months in Anaheim which presumably means they were given a 2.5 month rebate on their sponsorship “annual fee"...




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On page four we encounter the first set of financial data which gives us a detailed look into how much it cost to move the Carousel. The table is titled GENERAL ELECTRIC AT WALT DISNEY WORLD and reveals the estimated five year costs as follows:

“Capital Contribution – Total Attraction” would not exceed $7.4 million; “Operations & Maintenance” were estimated at $2.8 million; and the “Annual Fee” was $750,000 ($150,000 per year).

This means GE would spend almost $11 million to move, operate and maintain the Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World in its first five years.  In today’s dollars that translates to $59 million.  It is very cool that we have an official record of this expense to move the attraction to its final home where it is still entertaining guests at Tomorrowland in The Magic Kingdom...




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Page five breaks down the Operations and Maintenance fees per year:

·      Operating Labor: $180,000

·      Repair and Maintenance: $130,060

·      Air Conditioning: $80,000

·      Electricity: $68,100

·      Wardrobe & Cleaning: $13,000

·      Property Taxes: $88,800

·      Insurance: $6,660

This sums to $566,620 which was then rounded to $560,000 * 5 = $2.8 Million...




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The elements of “Operating Labor” are on exhibit in the next table and it details how there were going to be 9 “Attraction Hostesses” who get $3.45 per hour and will work for a total of 4200 hours per year. There are also costs allocated for 1 “Attraction Supervisor” at $4.70 an hour for 4200 hours which was $19,740. These total to $150,000 and there was a 20% “overhead” charge added on top for $180,000 total. The 4200 hours translates into an average of 11.5 hours a day of Carousel of Progress labor operations throughout the year. These hourly wages were well above the U.S. minimum wage which didn’t top $3 until 1980...




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“Repairs & Maintenance” are described on page seven as “Estimates based on Disneyland and Adjusted For No Model City, Increased Hours and Labor Rates” and given a cost of $93,800 with another 20% overhead charge of $18,760. “Material Costs” are listed at $17,500 for the $130,060 total. Presumably this category included all work and upkeep on the animatronics. It is very interesting to see that the Progress City model and floor dedicated to it at Disneyland were not moving to WDW and are specifically called out here and helped to keep the cost down...




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“Utility Costs” featured on page eight are comprised of 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity charged at $0.0227 for a cost of $68,1000 and Air Conditioning & Heating at 350 “Tons” charged at $230 per ton per year for a cost of $80,000...




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“Property Taxes” covered on page nine show that GE was going to be charged 2% of 60% for the construction costs of $7,400,000 yielding a total of $88,800 per year which seems quite reasonable...




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The “Insurance” costs were derived by applying a %0.15 rate to the 60% of construction costs which resulted in a $6,600 annual premium — this also seems very affordable...




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Pages 11, 12 and 13 of the document move away from the line item costs and contain tables of GE’s payment schedule. It reveals that the $7.4 million construction costs were paid out across 1973, 1974 and 1975 at $1,250,000, $5,400,000 and $750,000 respectively. Then, for each year of operation, GE would have to pay $710,000. There is also a note that these charges did not include any escalation of labor and materials that could happen during the five years of sponsorship...




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The one thing that is not accounted for here is who paid for the ill-fated new theme song “The Best Time Of Your Life" that the Carousel of Progress featured in order to mirror GE’s philosophy when it opened in Florida. After going through a rehab in 1993, the song “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” returned along with the Carousel’s family celebrating four holidays — Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas. Take a listen to the original, Florida version song, “The Best Time Of Your Life," below...

(For your listening pleasure, please be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player at the top, left-hand corner of the page prior to playing the video below if you are on a desktop computer.)








One would have to believe in today’s business environment a document summarizing such a move as big as this would be far more wordier and confusing to read. But, there you have it — an official summary of the costs to move this legendary attraction across the country where it still entertains guests more than 50 years after it was first introduced to the world by Walt Disney himself...






 

Now that you know the costs of moving this beloved Disney attraction from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, why not sit back, relax and enjoy Martin's Ultimate Tribute to Walt Disney World's Carousel of Progress...

(For your viewing pleasure, please be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player at the top, left-hand corner of the page prior to playing the video below if you are on a desktop computer.) 










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Ted Linhart was born and raised in New York City and works at NBC Universal where he is an SVP of Research for the company’s cable networks. Ted has a passion for television and has long been a collector of many items. He is also quite passionate about the Disney Parks and, in particular, Walt Disney’s view of the future which was cemented the first time he went on Horizons in 1985. Over the past several years, Ted has been collecting letters, documents, brochures and other ephemera relating to the history, construction, and evolution of Disneyland, Disney World and EPCOT. Ted started posting pictures of his collection via his Twitter account @TedonTV and followers started asking him to post more pictures online.  That led Ted to create his blog Disneydocs.net where pictures of each of his items are archived.

You can find all of Ted's article here.


2 comments:

  1. Ted, I can't tell you how much I've been enjoying all these documents you've been sharing here on Disney Avenue. What a wonderful look back at Disney history seen no place else on the web. It's rarely seen items like this that continue to make this site my favorite Disney history blog by far. Keep up the great work guys!!

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  2. WOW!! You guys never cease to amaze me!! I always look forward to new articles here. Thank you as always.

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