Dear Mr. Addison:
I have received your letter regarding your "Save the Carousel" campaign, and am also aware that you have written Paul Pressler and others about the same subject.
On the one hand - having written material for every version of the Carousel of Progress and supervised the recordings of Rex Allen for his role as "Father" - I can appreciate your sentimentality. On the other hand, I am also well aware that attendance at the Carousel has been in a constant decline for a number of years. The fact is that today's guests at our Disney Parks prefer other forms of storytelling, and not all of them are "thrill rides."
Although we have looked at other options for use of the Carousel building (as we have at Disneyland), we have no plans at the moment to replace or close the Carousel at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. However, I must underscore the fact that we are following history begun in the earliest days of Disneyland by Walt Disney when we evaluate replacing attractions. Walt started doing that almost immediately, and not all the attractions he replaced were "unpopular," or did not work for one reason or another. In fact, attractions like the Viewliner train and Midget Autopia were very popular, especially with young visitors. (Walt also tore down one of my personal favorites, The Chicken Plantation Restaraunt along the Rivers of America in Frontierland to build New Orleans Square in Disneyland; and later we removed the popular Rainbow Caverns Mine Train to build Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.)
Forms of entertainment change, sometimes dramatically, over time. What appealed and communicated to an audience in the 1960's does not necessarily work in the year 2000. For example, most of us would be bored to tears with the pace of 1960's television shows and would "zap!" 1960's style commercials even faster today than we did 30-some years ago. Our shows and storytelling devices must be as relevant in the 21st century as Walt's were in the 20th century.
I apologize for being so long-winded with this response. No one, except my colleague John Hench, now in his 62nd year at Disney - he designed the Carousel buildings for both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom - has a longer and more involving connection with the Carousel. I was responsible for "selling" G.E. on moving the show from the New York World's fair to Disneyland, and then to Walt Disney World; and working with Dick and Bob Sherman on the music, Marc Davis and John Hench on the scene vignettes, Claude Coats on the layout and production, and Wathel Rogers on the figure programming was like spending everyday at a Disney Legends convention.
But, Mr. Addison, if the time comes when we have the need, a "better idea," and the funding, I will be the first in line to change out the Carousel. And I will shed many tears at its demise.
Martin A. Sklar
This letter shows that there are, in fact, people who care about Walt Disney and his legacy who work for Disney. But remember, we are not disputing the closing of all older rides. I personally am not as moved by the notion of removing Horizons, The Great Movie Ride, or 20,000 Leagues. The fact that the Carousel has such an educational theme behind it; that is is the only attraction in which the original content has been seen at the World's Fair, Disneyland, and Walt Disney World; and that it was one of Walt's favorite ideas or attractions is what leads me to believe that he would want it to remain forever. How wonderful it would be to have an attraction, one that can be traced so far back into our country's history, around for future generations.
We here at Save the Carousel thank Mr. Sklar for the valuable time and thoughtfulness that he put into this response.