Disney's Carousel of Progress


Visit the website, take a look around and sign the petition if you think it should stay!!! (click on “Save the COP!” link at top of page)

The Carousel of Progress


Here is a story that I cherish and always brings a tear to my eye, a real life story behind the COP, told by Mike Scopa (mouseplanet.com).
Iam taking this from his site:

Magical Moments
Sharing a cast member’s story
Friday, February 20, 2004
Mike Scopa, staff writer (Send an email)
Most, if not all of you who are reading this, may have heard the term “Disney Magic” or maybe even a “Disney Magical Moment.” Well, those special moments are not just limited to guests of Disney theme parks, but also include the most underrated people on earth—Disney cast members.
In this session, let’s look at a special magical moment as seen through the eyes of a Walt Disney World cast member. It’s a moment that was 40 years in the making.

The source
On New Year’s Eve, I received e-mail from a dear friend, Anne Stepien of WDW Planner (link). Anne had sent mail to wish me a Happy New Year, and to tell me a special story that had all the makings of a “magical” tale. With Anne’s permission, I would like to share this story with you.

From what I understand, this story was published in The Main Street Diaries, an employee newsletter for Disney management. A few years back, the Walt Disney World cast members were asked to select a “Magical Memory” for the 100 Years of Magic Celebration. One cast member picked a magical moment that occurred on January 4, 2002 because it was, as she says, “…of the opportunity I had to spend a very special day with a very special family.”

The seed for this day was planted in the early 1960s.

The letter
On December 28, 2001, Elizabeth Mayer, a cast member from the Disney Reservation Center, received an e-mail from a guest, Joanne Stolberg-Alger.

In the letter, Joanne stated that in the early '60s, her father, a former executive from General Electric, was used as the model for the father figure in the Carousel of Progress.

Her father had kept the fact that he was “starring” in the GE exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair a secret from his family, and planned on taking his family to see their reaction. Unfortunately before he had the opportunity to do so, he passed away at the age of 40.

The family never made it to the World’s Fair, and found out Dad’s big surprise only after his brother attended the Fair, saw his brother’s audio-animatronic twin and came home with the news.

Many years later, Joanne brought her family to Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom theme park to experience seeing her father in the Carousel of Progress. Unfortunately, however, her mother Doris Stolberg did not make the trip and had never seen the attraction.

In Joanne’s December 28 e-mail to Disney Reservation Center, she stated that her daughter, her mother, and she would be in the Orlando area on January 4. Joann asked if there was any way she could buy a ticket just to experience the Carousel of Progress attraction. Elizabeth, a former cast member of the Magic Kingdom Event Group, picked up the phone and called the Event Group to see if there was anything special that they could do for these guests.

It was obvious that this request was very special, and they made a few calls and asked Elizabeth to contact the guest and ask to meet her at the Guest Relations window in front of the park.

The visit
On January 4, 2003, Elizabeth came to the Event Group office, and a greeting party set out for the turnstiles to meet Joanne, Doris, and Shannon. With the help of Marvin Smith, Operating Manager of Magic Kingdom Guest Relations, one-day park hopper tickets were waiting at the Guest Relations Window for these special guests.

The party met the family and immediately escorted them towards Tomorrowland.

At the Carousel of Progress, a Disney photographer was waiting for the group and took a picture outside the attraction. Judy Paulsen, a Tomorrowland Guest Service Manager, was awaiting their arrival, and arranged for the guests to have their own private showing of the Carousel of Progress show.

As soon as the theater made its first turn and the father could be seen, Doris, Joanne’s mother, covered her mouth, as tears began to well up in her eyes. She was not alone, as all who were there were also caught up in this magical moment.

She could not take her eyes off the animatronic star of the show. She then smiled and said, “He looks exactly the same as I remember him.”

The show continued, and the family asked the photographer to take a few pictures of the father on the stage, and another with the family in front of the stage and “Dad” in the background.

At the end of the show, Doris took out a picture to show everyone what her husband had looked like, and the resemblance was amazing. As they exited the theater, Doris took Elizabeth’s hand, looked deeply into her eyes with a look of gratitude and said, “Thank you! You have no idea what this means to me.”

At this point Elizabeth invited them to enjoy the park and asked them to meet her in front of City Hall at 2 p.m… Elizabeth wanted to be sure they received copies of the pictures, and with the help of Dean Gaschler of Magic Kingdom Guest Relations, arranged to have the family ride in the electric car as Grand Marshals of the Share a Dream Come True parade.

The family met Elizabeth at City Hall and were delighted when Dean presented them with Mickey Mouse ear hats, and were excited when Dean challenged them to “wave at each of our guests equally, not only the cute fellas!” Though Doris was 78 years old, the moment the car reached the parade route, her eyes lit up and she became a child again. At the end, Doris was beyond words, but Joanne spoke for everyone when she said it was a day that they would never forget.

The final note about this story comes from Elizabeth herself when she says, “Now whenever I am asked about my Magical Memory, I tell people it is the Carousel of Progress because of the day that I spent with this very special family.”

Why I’m telling this story
I think that the underlying message here is that there are some very special people who we as guests of the Walt Disney World Resort, may take for granted. These are the cast members who work each day to make our vacations as memorable as possible.

These extraordinary employees are not paid very handsomely and are asked to always do whatever is needed to make the guests happy. This effort is not always appreciated by the guests.

I had planned to write this story weeks in advance of the accident that recently took the life of Javier Cruz, another outstanding cast member. But this story now seems fitting to tell in the wake of the tragedy. It speaks of people like Elizabeth Mayer, Marvin Smith, Judy Paulsen, and Dean Gaschler.

It serves as a tribute to those who get us through the turnstiles, who look out for our safety in the attractions, who entertain us in parades and in shows, who bring us that next glass of ice tea while dining, and who go that extra mile to help us all forget our problems in life and assist us in our willful suspension of disbelief.

Once again my thanks to Anne Stepien for bringing this story to my attention. This story made my day, and I’d like to dedicate it to Javier Cruz and all the cast members of the Walt Disney World Resort. To you, I say thank you.


Oh Val, that was such a lovely story! I had never read that before. Thank you for posting it!


I know many people are not a fan of COP…but it was one of my favorite shows. It may need a little updating for the “future” but still a classic. I sat close to a man and woman who was about in their 70-80’s and just to see their reaction to the “past” made it even better. I hope they keep it!


We signed the petition a couple years ago and also bought the dvd he’s selling, just in case.


Thanks for the link and the story, Val. I signed the petition. You can now view the entire 40 something minute video online as it’s no longer for sale. There’s some really cool footage and video for the 1964 world’s fair.


Looks like some cool stuff on that site. I didnt get to look at eveyrthing as it was late last nite and I was tired. But I definately want to look at that video!
That stinks that it’s not for sale anymore!!


YOur welcome! Iam glad I could find it to post! :happy:
Mike Scopa tells that story every year at the Magic Meets (held in July in PA) and you just well up with tears!!!:crying:
To think that the family had no idea that he was the model for GE and then seeing him at the attraction well after he died and what the MK did for the family (Iam getting goose bumps again thinking about it!).
After hearing that story it just kills me to hear that they want to take the COP down! :crying: :frown:


It would be such a cool thing if they kept it and updated it as time progressed!


Is that the DVD they are no longer selling, like Jen said?

I noticed some of the entries were from 2004 and 2005 about the COP staying!


It must be. We bought it 2 or 3 years ago. It was filmed by a amateur, but well done. He goes back to the beginning, shows how the show changed a bit (the song and dialog) after GE dropped sponsorship, to the present. It’s been awhile since we’ve watched it so I can’t remember when it was taped. Glad we have it.