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ASings

An "America Sings" record album cover.

America Sings was an Audio-Animatronic salute to the great American songbook. It opened on June 29, 1974 in the Carousel Theater (former home of the Carousel of Progress) at Disneyland's Tomorrowland and closed on April 10, 1988, since the bicentennial celebrations were long-over.

The show was hosted by Sam the Eagle (voiced by Burl Ives), who sang the attraction's theme song "Yankee Doodle", and Ollie the Owl (voiced by Sam Edwards). The rotating theater took park guests through four acts, each one representing a different era of American music: Going South, Heading West, the Gay Nineties, and Modern Times.

Musical selections included

Act I: Introduction

Act II: Going South

Act III: Heading West

Act IV: The Gay Nineties

Act V: Modern Times

Act VI: Conclusion

Closing

When the attraction closed in 1988, most of its audio-animatronic characters were moved to Splash Mountain, while two of the long-necked geese were transformed into the G2 droids in the queue area of Star Tours and the rock and roll stork is now used to train new animatronic programmers.

The building was used as office space until Innoventions opened in 1998.

Voice cast

  • Sam the Eagle: Burl Ives
  • Ollie the Owl: Sam Edwards
  • Singing Geese: Bill Cole, Jerry Whitman, Gene Merlino, Bill Lee
  • Swamp Boys: Mac Curtis, Geary Hanley, Ray Campi
  • Mother Possum: Jean Ritchie
  • Convict Fox: Skuffy Shew
  • "Down by the Riverside" Chorus: Gwen Lightner Group, Bill Cole Group, Jewel Hall
  • Saddlesore Swanson: Chill Wills
  • "Sombrero" Dog: Rex Allen
  • Boothill Boys: Bill Cole, Bill Lee
  • Home on the Range Dog: Lloyd Perryman
  • "The Wandering Boy's" Mother: Diana Lee
  • Bill Bailey Pig: Betty Taylor
  • Blossom Nose Murphy: Jerry Whitman
  • Old Grey Mare and Ensemble: Perry Clark Quartet
  • Gilded Cage Chicken: Cheryl Poole
  • Tenor Fox: Bill Cole
  • Collegiate Quartet: Sue Allen, Peggy Clark, Bill Cole, Bill Lee
  • Eight to the Bar Piano Pig: Ray McKinley
  • Rock 'n Roll Stork: Tim Morgan
  • Alligator: Mic Bell
  • "Rattle and Roll" Stork: Mic Bell
  • "Rattle and Roll" Frog: Mic Bell
  • Biker Bird: Mic Bell
  • Biker Chick: Jewel Hall
  • "Joy to the World" Choir: John Beal Group

Incident

On July 8, 1974, nine days after the attraction opened, 18-year-old Disneyland cast member Deborah Gail Stone was accidentally crushed to death between the building's rotating wall and a stationary wall. She either fell, stepped backwards, or tried to jump from one stage to the other as the rotating wall began to move (it moved every 2 to 4 minutes which was how long each act was). A guest in the adjacent theater heard her screams and notified the ride operators. By the time the guest and ride operators got to her it was too late and she was pronounced dead at 11 pm.

The main contributing factor to the accident was that, while the previous Carousel of Progress had rotated counterclockwise, America Sings rotated clockwise. This is important as the position the cast member took on the stages was the same in both. As a result, while in Carousel of Progress the turning stage moved the cast member away from the nearest wall and they merely had to step around to the next one, in America Sings they were being turned into the nearest wall and getting crushed was a much easier feat.

After the incident, a warning light was installed to alert the operator when someone was too close to a dangerous spot. Eventually, the solid walls were replaced with breakaway walls to prevent any similar accidents.

Trivia

  • Unlike Carousel of Progress which rotated clockwise, America Sings rotated counter-clockwise. Also unlike its predecessor, America Sings only used the lower level. The lower level would again rotate clockwise as part of Innoventions, the successor to America Sings.
  • According to an interview with Alice Davis, Chill Wills, who did the voice of Saddlesore Swanson, stated that he would not go inside the theater, because he believed he would be strangely killed, which led him to leave the cast before the attraction opened in 1974.
  • "Who Shot the Hole in My Sombrero?" was originally sung with a Mexican accent, but the press didn't like it and ordered a change for the accent. It was later made with a Texan accent. However, the Mexican accent version still exists on the 1974 LP recording of the attraction.
  • This was the first attraction created without Walt Disney.
  • The animatronics were designed by Marc Davis.

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