Thursday, March 6, 2008

Disney and more Time machine - Back in time to 1974 : America Sings tribute : Artwork, photos and video !

Today, the Disney and more Time Machine bring you back in time to 1974 when the great America Sings attraction, a tribute to American music, opened in Disneyland, replacing the Carousel of Progress after the show moved to the Magic Kingdom Park WDW in 1973.

America Sings used the same Carousel Theater that its predecessor vacated, with its outer ring of six theaters, all connected by divider walls, revolving mechanically about every four minutes around the six fixed stages in the center of the building. Unlike Disneyland's Carousel of Progress, which rotated clockwise, America Sings went counter-clockwise. And just like Carousel of Progress, the show was full of great WDI Audio-animatronics.

The show's Masters of Ceremony were an American bald eagle named Sam (voiced by Burl Ives) and an unnamed owl rumored to be named Ollie (voiced by Sam Edwards). The image of Eagle Sam was designed by Disney animator Marc Davis, as were the other characters.

The great imagineer Jeff Burke, who, later, will be DLP's Frontierland show-producer, built the attraction in collaboration with Marc Davis. Composer Norman "Buddy" Baker arranged a selection of songs chosen to represent a panoramic view of American music.

The show had four acts, an intro and a epilogue, and between each act, as the theater rotated with the lights blacked out, Sam sang about the next era the audience was about to enter, reprising the chorus of "Yankee Doodle".

In the intro,the four acts, and the epilogue, the songs were:


* Yankee Doodle - Eagle Sam
* Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair - Eagle Sam
* Pop Goes the Weasel - Ollie and the weasel

Act 1 - The Deep South - with the songs:

* Dixie / L'il Liza Jane / Camptown Races - Geese Quartet
* My Old Kentucky Home - Colonel Houndstoothe (Bassett hound in rocking chair)
* Polly Wolly Doodle - The Swamp Boys (gator trio, frogs and harmonica-playing raccoon)
* Single Girl - Mother Possum
* The Birmingham Jail - Coyote
* Down By The Riverside - Hens, Foxes, Swamp Boy Frogs

Act 2 - Headin' West - with the songs:

* Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill / I've Been Working on the Railroad / Fireball Mail - Geese Quartet
* The Old Chisholm Trail - Saddlesore Swanson
* Who Shot That Hole in My Sombrero? - Sombrero-wearing dog
* Billy, the Bad Guy - The Boothill Boys (vulture duo)
* Home on the Range - Tex Ranger (dog)

Act 3 - The Gay '(18)90s - with the songs:

* She May Be Somebody's Mother / The Bowery / After the Ball is Over - Geese Quartet
* Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight? - Geese Quartet & Mother Rabbit
* Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey - Showgirl Pig
* Sweet Adeline - Blossom-Nose Murphy (goose) & Geese Quartet
* The Old Grey Mare - The Old Gray Mare & Geese Quartet
* Bird in a Gilded Cage - Bird in a Gilded Cage and Fox
* Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay - Storks, Geese Quartets (male and female), Pig, Bird in a Gilded Cage and Fox

Act 4 - Modern Times - with the songs:

* Ja-Da / At the Darktown Strutters' Ball / Singin' in the Rain - Geese Quartet
* A-Tisket, A-Tasket / Boo-Hoo - College Quartet (male wolf, male fox and two female cats)
* Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar - Piano Pig
* Hound Dog / See You Later Alligator - Rooster, Stork, Porcupine, Hound Dog and Alligator
* Shake, Rattle and Roll - Rooster and Frog
* Twistin' U.S.A. - Motorcycle storks
* Joy to the World - Modern Times cast (except Piano Pig and College Quartet)


* Yankee Doodle (reprise) - Eagle Sam
* Auld Lang Syne - Sam and Ollie
* Exit Music: Stars and Stripes Forever

Some of you, dear readers, were lucky enough to see the show. Others, and even me, didn't had the chance to enjoy it. So, for all of you, here is a great two-part youtube video of the whole show, thanks to scottof83. The video was taped on April 10th, 1988 by his father, on the last day of this beloved attraction!

America Sings closed on Sunday, April 10, 1988. According to Alice Davis, wife of the late Marc Davis, production of Disneyland's Splash Mountain had gone way over budget and the only way to recover was to close down America Sings and use the characters from that attraction.

America Sings was finally replaced by Innoventions, a version of the Epcot attraction of the same name, in 1998. Most of the Audio-Animatronic animals were moved to Disneyland's Splash Mountain log flume, which opened on Disneyland's 34th anniversary on July 17, 1989 and where Tony Baxter did the fantastic job that we all know with the America Sings AA characters.

Two goose Audio-Animatronics were taken out before America Sings even closed. In 1986, they had their "skin" removed, which left only a robotic skeleton, and had their heads replaced, and were used as two talkative G2 droids in the queue to Star Tours, which would open in early 1987. The rock and roll stork in the finale is now used by Imagineers for training new Animatronics programmers, acting as a final exam of sorts. The remainder of the show's Audio-Animatronics were recycled.

Artwork and photos : copyright Disney

Youtube video, thanks to scottof83

My thanks to Wikipedia for part of the text


Brian said...

Marc Davis was so awesome. I posted a few America Sings magazine scans on my blog:

kaicito said...

alain, thanks so much for posting this. like you, i never had a chance to see this great show. marc davis, who i had the pleasure to meet, was a genius and i love his concept artwork here.

The Viewliner Limited said...

Wonderful post Alain. Brings back a lot of great memories.

Ken said...

As I understand it from written sources around 1988-1989, Star Tours was originally planned to be built where America Sings was. Tony Baxter thought that, rather than let all of those audio-animatronics figures be destroyed, they should be put to use in a new attraction - Splash Mountain.

By the time they decided to put Star Tours in where Adventure Thru Inner Space was instead of where America Sings was, the Splash Mountain project already had too much momentum.

However, it is true that Splash Mountain went significantly over budget - largely due to engineering problems and delays. It was originally (after groundbreaking) planned to have a grand opening in January 1989 (with "soft openings" to begin in November of 1988), but instead, the grand opening was July 17, 1989 with the first soft opening coming in very late June. This was considered a huge delay – until Test Track’s delay at Epcot made it seem like a short one.

Disney and at least one of the firms involved in the engineering of Splash Mountain fought it out using their lawyers. At least one whole set of logs was tested and scrapped before the logs used at opening (which have since been replaced) were built. That gets very expensive.

I liked America Sings, but it was out of place where it was, and it is likely that even if Splash Mountain had been built without recycling anything from America Sings, it would have been shut down and the animatronics scrapped.

It's too bad that the Carousel Theater was left vacant for so long, finally re-opening as Innoventions in 1998.

Anonymous said...

This attraction is AMAZING !!! I never saw lot of AA in an attraction !!! this kind of attraction is a must but it disappear.... :(

Anonymous said...

Too bad this one of a kind gem closed. Guess it's better to keep young Americans in the dark about our musical past so High School Musical and other extreme profit making motives continue to brainwash what's left of this generation to feed and cloth the upper rich 1%.

Sorry for getting off topic there but it does make me sad that so many young people will lose out on such a fine attraction and they won't know about going to fan sites like this.

I fear in a generation from now most people won't even know what a *website* is due to the popularity of Facebook and Twitter where you don't own you're space.

The people that even view this site at all probably don't even know what they are looking at and click *back* to go looking for their Ipod Rap Crap and heavy Rot N Roll music.

Long Live America Sings!!!!