The 1964 New York World’s Fair was revolutionary in many ways for Walt Disney and Disneyland. Walt and his Imagineers worked on four different projects for the event: Great Moments with Mr Lincoln, Ford Magic Skyway, It’s a Small World, and the General Electric Carousel of Progress. The latter was apparently Walt’s favourite. Apparently, he once stated that it would never close.

The Carousel of Progress was moved to its long-term home of Disneyland shortly after. The theatre rotated through several different stages showcasing different scenes of an American family going through moments of industrial history. Unfortunately, it was not very popular. So, General Electric suggested it be moved to Walt Disney World, which had just recently opened. Executives agreed, so the entire attraction, minus the theatre itself, was shipped to Orlando, where it is still operational today.

Now Imagineers had a new problem to face: what the heck do you do with a massive, two-story, rotating theatre that was designed specifically for another attraction? The Walt Disney Company was looking for ways to celebrate the upcoming bicentennial – the 200th anniversary of the United States Declaration of Independence – so, hitting two birds with one stone, Imagineers designed and built America Sings.

The new show was a celebration of American musical history and was performed by animatronic animals. America Sings could be found in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park from 1974-1988. It debuted on June 29, 1974, just in time for the upcoming summertime Independence Day celebrations. The show fit perfectly inside the Progress theatre but did not exactly fit with the theme of Tomorrowland.

America Sings only used the first story of the building, and the show was divided into six different segments for the six different stages. The first stage was for loading guests into the area. Act I was dedicated to the “Early South.” The second act was all about the “Old West.” Act III was called “The Gay Nineties.” We can’t explain that one, especially since the 1990’s hadn’t even happened yet. It was probably based on the 1890’s instead, but we still aren’t sure why Disney chose that name for this act. Act IV was titled “Modern Times.” The last stage displayed the grand finale hosted by Sam the Eagle. The Eagle is the National Bird of the United States of America, so he was perfect for the job.

Sam and his friend Ollie can be found narrating every scene, as they travel through each era of American music. For the finale, Sam the Eagle sang “Yankee Doodle.”

By 1988, America Sings had long served its purpose as a tribute to the bicentennial. Therefore, it had become outdated. The show shut down in 1988, leaving the theatre vacant. It was used for office space for ten years. Yes, it sat there with no exterior purpose or decor (minus a sign saying a new attraction was coming soon) for a full decade! That was, until 1998 when Innoventions opened in the building.

As for the animatronics, they were repurposed for Splash Mountain characters and some of the geese even became droids in the nearby Star Tours queue. Although, they look a little different now. They were completely skinned of their feathers and clothes to look like droids.

For those that ended up on Splash Mountain though, they fit pretty well with the new ride for the most part. If they didn’t fit with the theme, they were instead placed on the riverboat in the finale scene of the ride. Many people believe Sam the Eagle is gone forever. However, they must not know that the animatronic for Sam is now used as Br’er Fox in Splash Mountain!

Unfortunately, we do not know what will happen to these animatronics with the new changes coming to Splash Mountain soon. But we do know how much joy they brought all guests during their lifetime!