Walt Dated World
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America on Parade
America on Parade
This Bicentennial parade ran from June 6, 1975-September 6, 1976 and was nearly two years in development. Floats reflected things that were uniquely American and told the story of America's history. The parade ran at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. It was both the daytime and nighttime parade during this time period.
The parade focused on historical events, American innovations and favorite leisure activities. This led to some rather bizarre floats, such as the giant sandwich and the giant box of popcorn. Other floats included an 18-foot American Eagle, a 20-foot high rocking chair, an 18-foot turkey, and a 240-inch television set. Disney contracted firms around the country to help build two copies of everything so the parade would be ready in time to run at both parks.
Entertainment head Bob Jani led Disney designers in creating not only the floats but also over 300 8-foot tall costumes with oversized heads that told the story of America's history. They were referred to as the "People of America". According to souvenir book sold during the parade run, the performers and floats were made in such a large scale so everyone would "view the parade through the eyes of a child". The "People of America" costumes were later adapted for Epcot during the park's early years. You could see "People of the World" walking around World Showcase and they were featured during the Grand Opening television special with Danny Kaye. The Spirit of '76 outfits worn by Mickey, Donald and Goofy were used during the summer of 1985 at Epcot's Star-Spangled Summer Salute, which was part of Epcot's year-long WorldFest. The minute man figures (calling "Living Dolls" in a 1985 issue of Disney News) from America on Parade joined Mickey and his friends to lead processions along Showcase Promenade with the American Adventure Fife and Drum Corp.
An 1890 restored band organ called The Sadie Mae from Sikeston, Missouri provided the music for the parade. It used punched-hole piano books to play music instead of player rolls. A man in Antwerp, Belgium was responsible for taking the arrangements and producing the music books for the Sadie Mae. Once the music was completed in Belgium, the Sadie Mae was shipped to Nashville for recording of the parade music. Songs such as Yankee Doodle Dandy, Turkey in the Straw, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, In My Merry Oldsmobile, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and God Bless America were used for the parade. Each float broadcast its own music using the same type of system first used by the Main Street Electrical Parade.
This parade inspired a lot of merchandise. Coca-Cola commemorated the Bicentennial with special glasses, including the one below for America on Parade. Little Golden Books celebrated the nation's 200th Birthday with an America on Parade book. Other items included coins, mugs, picture and history books, plates, Viewmaster reels and a lunchbox.
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