GENERAL ELECTRIC

Under a huge, gleaming dome suspended from spiraling pipes, the GE exhibit, called "Progressland," depicts the history of electricity, from its beginnings to the mighty bang of nuclear fusion. The multipart show, produced by Walt Disney, uses a unique theater. Here the seated audience is carried past a number of stages; there are reflecting mirrors, startling visual and sound projections, and, in the climax, neutron counters and other instruments to document graphically the demonstration of controlled thermonuclear fusion.

This view from the Better Living Pavilion shows the latticework roof of piping that supported the pavilion dome. This design provided a large expanse of show and exhibit area without the need for supporting pillars. (CD #39 Set 191 #30)


 

General Electric was one of the hits of the Fair, with long lines waiting to see Walt Disney's new Audio Animatronic figures extol the wonders of electricity. This view from 1964 shows how the lines filled every available space, more than surpassing the highest expectations the designers had foreseen. (CD #19 Set 99 #15)


 

The lines were just as long in 1965, but the addition of a new covered waiting area, dubbed "Progresslane," at least allowed guests to stay  out of the harsh summer sun. (CD #15 Set 75 #19)


 

Carousel Theater. In the first part of the program, separate auditoriums, each holding 250 people, circle into position and are carried past stages on which life-sized, three-dimensional, animated human figures move, talk, laugh and act out the story of electricity in the home from the Gay '90s to the present.   A late 19th Century home is shown. Its inhabitants struggle with all the latest luxuries: telephone, gas lamps, gramophone, kitchen pump, a hand-cranked clothes washer and a hand-pumped, air-suction vacuum cleaner.

Once inside, audiences were treated to a unique show that demonstrated how electricity was making differences in the lives of a family in the 1900s, 1920s, 1940s and present time. The audience traveled from scene to scene in a rotating auditorium, accompanied by a catchy tune from Richard and Robert Sherman titled "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow". (CD #TBD Set 346 #3)


 

A home of the '20s comes next, with coffeemakers and sewing machines, "monitor"-topped refrigerators and a homemade cooling device for hot weather: an electric fan that circulates air over a cake of ice.

While the appliances and clothes changed over the years, each act featured the family's father and dog relaxing in the kitchen. The dog's name did change in each scene to reflect common canine names of the time. (CD #TBD Set 346 #7)


 

The '40s are recalled with the little, round television screen, plus some odd applications of electricity: e.g., housewives mixing wallpaper paste with cake mixers. (CD #TBD Set 346 #13)


 

The glories of today glitter in a living room at Christmastime, a glass-enclosed, electrically heated patio, a kitchen that all but runs itself.

This scene from the final act shows several of the family members enjoying Christmas, with plenty of new GE appliances to help them celebrate. (CD #18 Set 91 #1)


 

The Corridor of Mirrors. Visitors pass through a hall in which giant photos of General Electric scientists and engineers - at work on laser rays, space technology, nuclear experiments and low-temperature research - are reflected and re-reflected in mirrors. (CD #TBD Set 352 #18)

 


 

The Sky-Dome Spectacular. By means of a dramatic new projection technique, the interior of the great dome is filled with the sights and sounds of the great natural sources of energy: fierce electrical storms, fire, a blazing sun and thousand of spinning atoms. A narrator describes man's historic search to harness energy and introduces the fusion experiment to follow. (CD #TBD Set 351 #16)

 


 

Fusion on Earth. In the first demonstration of controlled thermonuclear fusion to be witnessed by a large general audience, a magnetic field squeezes a plasma of deuterium gas for a few millionths of a second at a temperature of 20 million degrees Fahrenheit. There is a vivid flash and a loud report as atoms collide, creating free energy (evidenced on instruments). (CD #TBD Set 351 #28)

 


 

Electric Living. Apart from the scheduled show, a model all-electric community is on display with the latest electric innovations for the home, public buildings, industry and space exploration. (CD #TBD Set 351 #32)

 


 

At night the GE Pavilion took on a very special look, for moving lights swept across the domed roof in colorful patterns. Sadly, the animated roof was not included when the pavilion was relocated to Disneyland after the close of the Fair. (CD #20 Set 105 #5)


 


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