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Carousel of Progress: The Best Time of Your Life


 Carousel of Progress started as an attraction at the New York World's Fair in 1964-1965 and was sponsored by General Electric.  It was a smash hit and was moved to Disneyland once the Fair closed.  It opened in July of 1967 in Tomorrowland.  
 General Electric was eager to have a presence in Walt Disney World so Carousel of Progress left Disneyland in the fall of 1973 to relocate to Florida.  It opened in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland on January 15, 1975.  The theme song changed from There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow to another Sherman Brothers song: The Best Time of Your Life.  Apparently General Electric wanted to encourage people to buy appliances now instead of waiting for tomorrow.  When the Magic Kingdom still used ride coupons, this was a free attraction.  
 The end scene was changed once during this version of the show.  When the show premiered, the room was done in a country style with brick walls, an open kitchen with copper pots, a fireplace, and a snowy winter scene outside.  This scene was updated in 1981 and featured a new kitchen, multi-level lights, new woodwork, and a tropical patio area.  General Electric ceased sponsorship of the attraction on March 10, 1985, although the company continued to present Horizons at Epcot.  The song There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow could be heard during one of the scenes in Horizons.  
 The show was completely revamped in 1993.  The new official name of the attraction was Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress and a video was shown in the holding queue that talked about the historical nature of the attraction.  There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow was reinstated as the theme song at this time.  Andrew Duggan's narration as the father was replaced by a new track of humorist Jean Shepherd.  Rex Allen, who narrated the World's Fair and Disneyland version of the show was used for the voice of the grandfather in this version.  For those who miss hearing "The Best Time of Your Life", you can sometimes hear an instrumental version of it near the Plaza Pavilion.  The future of the current Carousel of Progress is uncertain.  It usually operates only seasonally and on limited hours.  

Sheet music for the new Carousel of Progress theme song.

Carousel of Progress Script

Note:  once GE ceased to sponsor the show, references to the sponsor were dropped.  The original General Electric references are in parenthesis and bold below.

Introduction
(As guests file in and take their seats, an instrumental version of "Best Time of Your Life" is heard for about two minutes.  A fanfare is played and the voice of the father begins to speak.)

John:   Welcome to the Carousel of Progress.  Now most carousels just go round and round without getting anywhere.  But on this one, at every turn, we'll be making progress.  And progress is not just moving ahead.  Progress is dreaming and working and building a better way of life.  Progress is a commitment to people.  A commitment of making today and tomorrow the best time of your life.  It wasn't always easy.  At every turn in our history there was always someone saying "Turn back.  Turn back."  But there is no turning back.  Not for us.  Not for our carousel.  The challenge always lies ahead.  And as long as man dreams and works and builds together, these years too can be the best time of your life.

(He begins to sing as the audience rotates.)

Now is the time.  
Now is the best time.  
Now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes and watch how you win it!
Yesterday's memories may sparkle and gleam,
tomorrow is still but a dream.
Right here and now,
you've got it made.
The world's forward marching and you're in the parade!
Now is the time.
Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.
There's so much to cheer for, be glad you're here.
For it's the best time of your life.

Act 1: Spring

(Birds are chirping outside at John hums the tune of "Best Time of Your Life".)

John:  Well, the robins are back.  That's a sure sign of spring.  What year is it?  Oh, just before the turn of the century. And believe me, things couldn't be any better than they are today.  Yes sir, we got all the latest things: gas lamps, a telephone, and the latest design in cast iron stoves.  That reservoir keeps five gallons of water hot all day on just three buckets of coal. (Laughs)  Sure beats chopping wood!  And isn't our new ice box a beauty.  Holds 50 pounds of ice.  Milk doesn't sour as quick as is used to.  Our dog Rover here keeps the water in the drip pan from overflowing.  You know, it wasn't too long ago we had to carry water from a well.  But thanks to progress, we've got a pump right here in the kitchen.  'Course we keep a bucket of water handy to prime it with.  Yes sir, we've got everything to make life easier.  Mother!  I was reading about a fellow named Tom Edison, who's working on an idea for snap on electric lights.  

Sarah:  I'll believe that when I see it.

John:  That's my wife Sarah.

Sarah:  But with my new wash day marvel, it takes only five hours to do the wash.  Imagine!

John:  That's right folks.  Now Mother has time for recreations like-

Sarah:  Like canning and polishing the stove?

John:  (Laughs.)  Ok Mother!  You just iron the wrinkles out of my shirts.

Sarah:  Yes, dear.

John:  But no one can improve on nature for drying clothes. (Sound of thunder and rain.)  Oh well, the cistern was low on rainwater anyway.  (Rover growls.) Rover!  Mind your manners!  You know, our home entertainment is getting better too.  With this amazing new stereoscope, my son can now see and learn all about the latest events in the world.  Like the World's Fair in St. Louis.

Son:  Wowie!  Look at that!  What's the Hoochie Coochie, Dad?

John:  (Clears throat.)  Get back to your homework, son.  Oh yes, we also have one of those new talking machines.  It plays music right here in our home.  

("Best Time of Your Life" plays for Grandma and her parrot.)

Parrot: (Squawks.)  She keeps that thing going all day long.  The tenor's driving me nuts.  Progress! (Squawks again.)

John: (Chuckles.)  You know, the young folks have their own ideas about entertainment. (Jane heard humming "Best Time of Your Life" in the background.) For instance Jane, our teenage daughter is getting ready to go to a trolley party on one of those new electric street cars.  She says hayrides are old-fashioned.

Jane:  Thanks for letting me go, Papa.

John:  Be home by 9:00, daughter!

Jane:  Yes, Papa.

John:  It's hard to imagine how life could be any easier.  But there's a new company, (uh, General Electric they call it,) working on bringing the same power that runs the trolley into folks' homes.  Hmm.  And because those fellas are working that out, one thing is certain-

Now is the time.  
Now is the best time.  
Now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes and watch how you win it.
Yesterday's memories may sparkle and gleam,
tomorrow is still but a dream.
Right here and now,
you've got it made.
The world's forward marching and you're in the parade!
Now is the time.
Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.
There's so much to cheer for, be glad you're here.
For it's the best time of your life.

Act 2: Summer

John:  Whew!  Hottest summer we've had in years.  Well, we've progressed a long way since the turn of the century 20 years ago.  But no one realized then that this would be the age of electricity.  Everyone's using it: farmers, factories, whole towns.  (Sounds of traffic outside.)  With electric streetlights we don't worry so much about the youngsters being out after dark.  And what a difference in our home.  We can run as many wires as we need in any direction for Mother's new electrical servants: electric sewing machine, coffee percolator, toaster, waffle iron, refrigerator, and they all go to work at the click of a switch.  (Frantic music plays as the appliances come to life.)  Take it easy!  You'll blow a fuse!  (Queenie growls.)  Queenie!  Leave 'em alone.  Well, the days of lugging heavy irons from the old cookstove to an ironing board are gone forever.  With an electric iron and electric lights, Mother now has time to enjoy her embroidery in the cool of the evening.  Right, Mother?

Sarah:  Yes, dear.

John:  Oh by the way, we've got a phonograph now.  And there's a new type of music called Jazz that all the youngsters go for. (Jazzy instrumental of "Best Time of Your Life" plays in the background.)  With his crystal set, Grandpa can get big time entertainment from distances up to a hundred miles away!

(Radio static is heard.)

Radio:  We interrupt this program to bring you this news bulletin.  Charles A. Lindbergh landed in Paris today.  I repeat, Charles A. Lindbergh landed in Paris.

John:  Now that's amazing news.  Too bad we get so much static (Chuckles.)  I'm also getting a little static from my daughter.

Jane:  I don't see any harm in my looking for a job, Daddy.

John:  It's a man's world out there, Jane.

Jane:  Well it won't always be, Father.

(Queenie growls.)

John:  Now cut that out, Queenie.  You're supposed to be man's best friend.  Well, we've got indoor plumbing now.  Saves a lot of walking.  In our new bathroom we've got a-a houseguest. (Cousin Orville is heard humming "The World Owes Me a Living".)  Cousin Orville.  And as usual, he's taken over the coolest spot in the house.  I will say one thing for him, though.  Orville's rigged up something pretty clever.  He calls it air cooling.  Hmm, too bad he's not reading the help wanted ads.  

Orville:   No privacy at all around this place!

John:  Sorry, Orville!  You know, considering all the conveniences we have it looks as though we've made real progress in making our lives easier.  And when we read about those things the research people (at General Electric) are working on, well, we can be sure of one thing-

Now is the time.  
Now is the best time.  
Now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes and watch how you win it.
Yesterday's memories may sparkle and gleam,
tomorrow is still but a dream.
Right here and now,
you've got it made.
The world's forward marching and you're in the parade!
Now is the time.
Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.
There's so much to cheer for, be glad you're here.
For it's the best time of your life.

Act 3: Autumn
John:  Well it's autumn again and the kids are back in school.  Thank goodness!  Here we are in the frantic forties and the music is better than ever.  And it's amazing how our new kitchen wonders are helping to take over the hard work.  Everything is improving.  Electric range is better.  Refrigerators are bigger and make lots more ice cubes.  But my favorite is the electric dishwasher.  Now Mother spends less time in the kitchen and I don't have to dry the dishes anymore.  (Chuckles.) Oh, I spend a lot of time here.  Have to.  Now that television has arrived, Grandma and Grandpa have taken over my den.  (Grandpa is heard snoring as Grandma watches TV.)  Television has changed our lives.  It's brought a whole new world of culture into our home.

Grandma:  (To Grandpa.)  Are you asleep, dear? (Changes the channel to a boxing match.)  Come on!  Come on, belt him Tiger!  Let 'em have it!  That's it Tiger!  Come on!  Let him have it!

(Sport barks.)

John:  Well, to each his own.  Right Sport?  No doubt television will improve and the kids will learn a lot from it.  Right now my son is more interested in models.  Airplane models, that is.

(Sound of model airplane motor.)

Son:  Dad!  Dad!  It works!  It works!  

John:  I hear it!  I hear!  And so do all the neighbors!  Good work, son.  (Sport barks.)  Sport, knock it off!  How about that?  My son, the engineer.  Well, ok where was I?  Oh, remember back in the 1920's when young people got their exercise dancing the Charleston?  Well today our daughter Jane keeps in shape with electricity.

Jane:  (Voice vibrating as she talks on the phone.) Babs, I'm having so much fun in my first year at college.

Babs:  (Voice over.)  Jane, have you met any Seniors yet?

Jane:  Oh, dozens.  And Saturday I'm going to the dance with a real dreamboat.

Babs:  Are you doing any of the new dances?

Jane:  Oh, we still Jitterbug but I'm having some trouble with the Rumba.  I can't quite get the hip action.  Oh, and listen Babs-

John:  Hmm, any more hip action and she'll disconnect something.  (Sport growls)  Quiet, Sport.  You can never underestimate the power of a woman.  And speaking of women doing things, Mother is caught up in the new do-it-yourself craze.  She's remodeling our basement into something called a rumpus room.  (Chuckles.)  Mother's pretty ingenious, like using her food mixer for stirring-paint?!?  Well, that's my wife Sarah.

Sarah:  John?

John:  Yes, dear.

Sarah:  I was just thinking.

John:  About what?

Sarah:  That if you hired a man to do this, wouldn't you pay him?

John:  Well of course, dear.

Sarah:  Then I should get equal pay.

John:  Well, um, we might negotiate something later on, dear.

Sarah:  When?

(Cuckoo Clock strikes.)

Clock:  (Singing.)  Now is the time. Now is the best time.

John:  (To clock.)  You stay out of this!  Well, if it's time for anything, it's time to move on.  And it's time to sing the song again.  Come on, everybody!

Now is the time.  
Now is the best time.  
Now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes and watch how you win it.
Yesterday's memories may sparkle and gleam,
tomorrow is still but a dream.
Right here and now,
you've got it made.
The world's forward marching and you're in the parade!
Now is the time.
Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.
There's so much to cheer for, be glad you're here.
For it's the best time of your life.

Original Act 4: 1975-1981
(Transcription for this act is courtesy of Eric Paddon.  The pictures in this section are from www.nywf64.com.)

(During its first six years at Walt Disney World, this was the original Act IV ending of the Carousel of Progress, which took place in a much more trendy looking 1970s style kitchen and living room, while daughter Jane and the unnamed son were dressed in equally trendy bell bottoms and plaids.  As this transcript indicates, Mother was a much more assertive community activist during this decade of women's liberation!)

John:   Well, it sure is nice to have the whole family home for the holidays.  Right now, I'm cooking my one and only specialty.  Chili!  It's our traditional New Year's Eve snack. (Clatter of dropped pans.) Oops, sorry!

Sarah: (Laughing.)  My, that chili sure sounds good!

Grandma:  Mmm, smells good too.

(Sport lets out a bark.)


John:  And it better be good, Grandma.  With Mother spending all of her time on the Clean Waters Committee, I may be the only one left with time to cook.

Sarah: Now dear, you encouraged me to get involved.

John:  Good grief, did I do that?

Jane:  (Laughing.)  My mother the activist?  I think that's kind of neat.

Sarah:  I think it's kind of neat, too!  Did I show you the letter from the mayor, thanking us for getting the bond issue passed?

Son: You've done it again, Mom.

Grandma: In my day, women only had time for fun things, like-

Sarah:  Canning and polishing the stove?

Grandpa:  Now, Grandma, things haven't been all that bad.  We've been a pretty good team.

Jane:  But on your team.  Grandma spent most of her time on the bench!  (They all laugh.)

Sarah:  Speaking of the bench, I suppose you men are going to sit all day tomorrow watching football on TV!

John:  You better believe it!

Grandpa:  And while we're warm and cozy in front of the TV, I'll be feeling mighty sorry for all those people out there that bucking traffic and those crowds.

Jane:  Why Grandpa, you really do care about people! (Sings and strums her guitar and sings.) "The world's forward marching and you're in the parade."


Grandpa:  Young lady, I've always been in the parade!  My generation has always been concerned about people.

John:  You're right, Grandpa.  And progress for people has always been the real challenge.  In every generation.

Son: I agree, Dad!  When we've had the most problems, that's when we seem to make the most progress.

Grandpa:  Well then sonny boy, you've sure got your work cut out for you.

Sarah:  Father, it's getting close to midnight in the East.  Let's watch the New Year's celebrations on TV.  (The TV in the background is turned on.)

1st Newscaster: (The sounds of "Auld Lang Syne" can be heard.)  And that's our story in Times Square.  Now let's go to Walt Disney World, in Florida.

2nd Newscaster:  From high atop the Contemporary Resort Hotel, we can look down on all the exciting celebrations.  Across the way is the Magic Kingdom, where people from everywhere have come to greet the New Year with hope and optimism.

Jane:  Speaking of optimism, how's the chili coming, Dad?

John:  Patience everybody!  I haven't missed a New Year's yet. (Sport barks loudly.) Mind your manners, Sport!  Dogs don't eat chili. (Sport whimpers.)

Jane:  (First humming the tune as she strums and then sings.) Now is the best time of your life.

Grandpa: You know, Grandma, she's right.  We've seen a lot of New Years come and go.  And we've shared the good old days.  But I admit, the time we live in, really is the best time.

John:  Yes, this is the best time.  One of the reasons is because electricity has improved all our lives.

Sarah:  And if we use it wisely and well, each new year and each new day can bring a better way of life.

John:  Well said, Mother!  If we have hope and confidence, every day of the year can be-the best time of your life.

Jane:  Happy New Day, everybody!

All: (Singing.)
Now is the time.  
Now is the best time.  
Now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes and watch how you win it.
Yesterday's memories may sparkle and gleam,
tomorrow is still but a dream.
Right here and now,
you've got it made.
The world's forward marching and you're in the parade!
Now is the time.
Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.
There's so much to cheer for, be glad you're here.
For it's the best time of your life.

(As the Carousel takes us back to the unloading area, we are given this exit spiel from John.)

John:
All of us at General Electric, thank you for joining us and for helping us celebrate this day.  Now, will you step outside.  Have the best time of your life.  Happy New Day, everybody!


Act 4: New Year's Eve (Revised Act)

(Christmas music plays in background.)

John:  You know, this is the time of day I really love.  Will you look at that sunset out there?

Everyone:  Fabulous!  Mmm.  Just breathtaking.

John:  Great way to end a great year.

Jane:  Really.

Son:  Mmm hmm.

Sarah:  It's beautiful but I must say having the whole family here together on this New Year's Eve is even more beautiful.

John:  You know dear, I think you're right.

Grandma:  Well of course she is!  

Son:  You tell him, Grandma!

Grandma:  I mean it.  We're all healthy and together and I think we're living in a wonderful time.

Son:  Do you really feel that way?  

Grandma:  The 1980's are a wonderful time.  

Grandpa:  I'm in the eighties myself.  My golf score, that is.  Slicin' that old five iron-

(Note:  During this version of the show's last three years of operation, the above three lines were removed and replaced with this: Son:  You and Grandpa are sure having a wonderful time!  In one year, you managed to travel around the world, take up tennis, and even organize your high school reunion.  Incredible!)

Grandma:  We have an awful lot to be thankful for.

Grandpa:  Well, the old gal's right about that!

Jane: Grandpa!  Wait a minute.  What about all those good old days of yours?  The one's you're always raving about?

Grandpa:  Well, they were good, all right.  But I'll tell you, we had to spend quite a chunk of those "good old days" just taking care of essentials.

John:  Oh, essentials.  Glad you mentioned that.  It's time for me to start my New Year's Eve spectacular.  Omelet Superb Avec Jambon.

(Sport barks.)

Jane:  Mmm.  Not the famous Omelet Superb Avec Jambon?

Son:  Known in other circles as ham and eggs.

(Sport howls.)

John:  Now, don't push it Sport.  As for you two, whatever happened to respect for your elders?

Grandpa:  I always wondered the same thing when you were growing up.

Sarah:  Well, you two can ponder that age old question.  But since it's almost dark, I think I'll put your recipe on memory and throw a little light on the subject.

Jane:  Oh Mom, while you're at it, will you touch the program scan?  I'd like to see the New Year's Eve celebrations in Europe and the East.

Son:  Is it that time already?

Jane:  Well of course!  Matter of fact, it's past that time in half the world.

Son:  Wow, the awesome things they teach these children nowadays.

Jane:  Very funny.

(TV plays in background.)

TV:  Celebrating the New Year here in London, a large crowd has gathered. (Channel changes.)  Tremendous pace as happy Parisians welcome the New Year- (Channel changes.) A happy holiday spirit fills the evening.  We still have several hours before midnight here in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World but already people from all over the world are celebrating-

Grandma:  Oh my goodness!  Look at that.

Everyone:  Wow!  Sensational!  That's great!

John:  You know Mother, I feel like sending up some fireworks myself.  

Sarah:  We really do have a lot to celebrate, and not just things, either.

John:  It's the whole quality of our lives.  

Son:  Hey it's great you two feel that way.

Sarah:  Why shouldn't we?

Son:  The world is getting more complex.

Jane:  Really?

Grandpa:  Well, today is always more complex than yesterday.  Always has been.

John:  But it's more exciting too.  Today we have so many more choices.

Sarah:  I think that's the best part.

John:  Sure, today they're bringing good things to life (Note: "We Bring Good Things to Life" was GE's advertising slogan at the time) that weren't even dreamed of a generation ago.

(Timer dings.)

Sarah:  Oh, speaking of good things, sounds like it's time for our Omelet Superb Avec Jambon.

(Sport barks.)

John:  See, even Sport's enthusiastic about the future!  Alright fella, I get the message.  And yes dear, you're right.  Now is the time.

Sarah:  Why don't we all sing it.

All:
Now is the time.  
Now is the best time.  
Now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes and watch how you win it.
Yesterday's memories may sparkle and gleam,
tomorrow is still but a dream.
Right here and now,
you've got it made.
The world's forward marching and you're in the parade!
Now is the time.
Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.
There's so much to cheer for, be glad you're here.
For it's the best time of your life.

John:  We hope you enjoyed your ride on the Carousel of Progress!  Please gather your personal belongings, take small children by the hand, and exit through the same doors you came in.

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