D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind, Day 1


DESTINATION D MAGIC BAND WINNERS: Jeff Finger , Chuck Strom and Claude Herbert! Send Deb your address via the Contact Us Form: /forms/feedback.htm

On November 22-23, D23 held its big annual event at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, “Destination D: Attraction Rewind.”

D23 Destination D Attraction Rewind Program

The emphasis on Saturday’s schedule was an exploration of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair–a landmark in Disney history due to the four exhibits Disney presented there, all marvels of themed attraction innovation.

(No photography or recording was permitted during the presentations. All photos thereof are courtesy of D23.)

Early Construction at the 1964-65 World's Fair

To start us off, Historian Bill Cotter gave us a general overview in his presentation “Welcome to the World’s Fair.”

Worlds Fair Historian Bill Cotter

Displaying only a portion of his extensive (22,000!) collection of World’s Fair photos (located online at http://www.worldsfairphotos.com/) Cotter took us on a whirlwind tour of the construction and layout of the Fair. Some of the futuristic developments the fair introduced: Phone booths, touch-tone phones, computers, carbon-free copies, and Bel-Gem waffles.

Next up were Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Bob Gurr generally discussing the Disney contributions in “Walt Disney–A Giant at the New York World’s Fair.”

Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Bob Gurr

With the easy familiarity born of all their cumulative years of Disney service, Sklar and Gurr shared many of their memories developing and experiencing the Fair attractions with Walt and the other classic Imagineers. Two notes they made of Walt’s forethought: He had contracts drawn up to take possession of all the attractions he built after the fair for Disneyland (ending a six-year stagnant period;) and the month the Fair opened was the same month he began quietly purchasing land in Florida.

Walt Disney's its a small world New York Worlds Fair

Because neither Sklar or Gurr worked extensively on “it’s a small world,” video segments were played with Disney Legends Richard Sherman and Rolly Crump talking about their contributions on that attraction.

Photos of its a small world from the World's Fair

Interview with Disney Legends Bob Gurr and Marty Sklar

After a short break, Historian Stacia Martin shared with us “Disney Music Magic at the New York World’s Fair.”

Disney Historian Stacia Martin

Martin played a number of musical selections for us, including some of the impressive orchestral scores Buddy Baker came up with for Mr. Lincoln and Carousel, proof-of-concept recordings for the iasw roundelay, and George Bruns’ many and varied musical adaptations for the Ford queue, as played by the Autoparts Harmonic.

Autoparts Harmonic Photo

The first of the Disney Fair pavilions discussed was “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,” with 2007 Disney Ambassador and Historian Michael Kelley and Imagineer Jack Gladish.

Michael Kelley and Jack Gladish

Interview with Imagineer Jack Gladish

The two went back over the history of Audio-Animatronic development from the Buddy Ebsen “Dancing Man” footage to the problems making forehead plastic crinkle when Lincoln moved his eyebrows. (Oddly enough, no thought at all was apparently given to this when Gary Sinese taped his “Mission: Space” footage right after botox.)

Artist Rendering of Mr. Lincoln

The initial presentation of the Lincoln figure was so impressive, the Illinois Commission was able to convince Robert Moses, Head of the World’s Fair Corporation, to pitch in money for it–the only financial support he gave to any exhibitor–just so he could have the pavilion in the Fair.

After lunch we reconvened to hear Bill Cotter and Bob Gurr return to the stage to talk about Walt, cars, and dinosaurs in “Ford’s Magic Skyway.”

Bill Cotter and Bob Gurr

Sadly, this is the one ride that did not make it back to Disneyland, as Walt apparently deemed the ride system too large to take back and fit into the park. Consequently, his contracts for the Skyway were written for him to be able to take the dinosaurs and a few other small pieces, and leave the rest.

Fords Magic Skyway at New York World's Fair

The presentation ended with a video ride through reconstruction which is the closest any of us will get to riding Ford’s Magic Skyway today.

[For more concept pictures on this ride, I refer you back to a blog I wrote on the 2010 Destination D, when we were still allowed to take photos: /blogs/lauragilbreath/2010/10/destination_d_day_1_pm.html]

Marty Sklar then returned as well, to talk with Imagineer Gary Landrum about the making of “Carousel of Progress.”

Marty Sklar and Gary Landrum

The two went through a brief history of the attraction, detailing its proposed origin for the unrealized Edison Square, then its first life in Progressland, and again, to its subsequent existence in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.

Carousel of Progress

Carousel of Progress

Tim O’Day, standing in for an absent Alice Davis, had a chat with Disney Legend and assistant manager of the Disney World’s Fair projects, Bill Sullivan about “it’s a small world,” and some of the Imagineers that worked on it.

Marc Davis, Walt Disney, and Mary Blair

Artist Rendering its a small world

Interview with Disney Legend Bill “Sully” Sullivan, Worlds Fair Historian Bill Cotter and Imagineer Gary Landrum

Next up was Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline, who gave us a fascinating look at some proposed projects that did not come to fruition in “Lost on the Way to the World’s Fair.” The highlight was a presentation of the script and concept art (long misattributed to the Tiki Room,) for a theater show pitched for the Coke Pavilion, entitled “Legends of the Enchanted Island.”

Legends of the Enchanted Island

The first day of Destination D presentations then closed out with “Tomorrowland’s” Supervising Art Director Ramsey Avery, discussing the work that was done for the film to reconstruct parts of the World’s Fair in “A Sneak Peak at Disney’s Tomorrowland.”

Ramsey Avery

While they did show some footage just for the Destination D event, you can get a quick glimpse of some of their work in the recently released trailer:


Here’s how you can win a special Destination D Magic Band! Simply leave a comment below about Destination D Attraction Rewind OR leave a comment on one of the videos posted in this blog between now and midnight December 24, 2014. We will pick a comment at random for the Magic Band!


…And that was just the first day! More from the second day of Destination D: Attraction Rewind, to come!

Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

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12 Replies to “D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind, Day 1”

  1. Thanks for the recap! I wish I could attend some of these events, but it never fits into my schedule. That’s why I appreciate the time the Allears reporters take to write these blogs. Would have loved to hear more about the making of Small World! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great Post! Was sad I couldn’t make it this year, but glad to read about the highlights of the event. The magic band looks awesome! Would be great to add to my collection! lol 🙂

  3. Love hearing about the NY World’s Fair! I was lucky enough to get to go to the fair, although at the age of 4 my memories are mostly what I have from the pictures my mom, dad and grandparents took. I do distinctly remember riding in a Ford Mustang convertible on the Magic Skyway – it’s what made my dad go out and by a Mustang. I remember getting to ride in the driver’s seat!

  4. Thank you for providing your sights and sounds from Destination D. It is interesting to hear about Walt’s involvement in the World’s Fair. The teaser for Tomorrowland is such a teaser that I am thirsting for more.

  5. Thank you for posting this information. I always love reading reports about these types of events. The history behind the development of Disneyland and Disney World is always so fascinating. I hope to be able to attend an event like this in person some day. Till then I know I can always find great information on All Ears!

  6. This is so interesting to read! I loved it! I’ve always wanted to go to some of these events but reading recaps always makes me feel like I WAS there:)

  7. WOW how amazing it must have been to get to see & hear from these Disney legends. So awesome to hear about the making of what is and what never became. So cool to know that these men actually worked closely with Walt himself. The stories they must have.
    Thanks for the report.. 🙂

  8. How lucky you got to hear Mr. Gurr and Mr. Sklar speak! I think we take for granted all the technology and innovation they helped create to make Walt’s visions come to life. Thanks for sharing!

    DEB: These folks, especially the Disney Legends, are our Living Archives! Whenever an opportunity arises to see one of them talk, I do my best to do so. Of course, they aren’t on the east coast too often. But they are wonderful to listen to.

  9. Thank you so much for the recap. So little has been written or podcasted about this event. It’s a shame really. I love re-reading these D23 event recaps, so I can continue to basque in the joy I felt attending them.

    I attended both D23 Destination D events at WDW and they are BOTH highlights of my best Disney memories.

    There is so MUCH information being discussed on stage, that you can’t process it all at once.

    I was so disappointed they didn’t allow pictures or videos at all… they could have allowed it during certain times, like they do at D23 Expo. I think that’s why the bloggers/podcasters have written so little about this event.

    DEB: Thanks for taking the time to read our recapts. It was hard to write much when no recording at all, even audio, was allowed.

  10. I always enjoy reading and hearing stories about the development of some of my favorite attractions! Thanks for taking us along with you to D23!

  11. Very Interesting. It would have been fun to have attended to World’s Fair but this perspective was insightful. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to hearing more….