March 6, 2013, marks an anniversary of sorts for fans of the Carousel of Progress. According to Disney Historian Paul F. Anderson, many of the tracks for “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” were recorded on March 6, 1963. The Sherman Brothers wrote the lyrics in a matter of days, and handed them over to staff composer Buddy Baker. Baker not only had to make each musical transition match the era (Waltz, Swing, etc.), he also had to ensure both the length of time and key were spot on. The Sherman Brothers have always stated that “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” is Walt’s song, because he so embodied progress. In fact the lyric, “Man has a dream, and that’s the start,” was inspired by an actual conversation the brothers had on the walk back to their car, moments after Walt assigned them the project. According to Richard Sherman, one of the brothers said to the other, “Well Walt has a dream, and that’s a start.”
The Carousel of Progress debuted in the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and audiences immediately fell in love with both the show and the song. “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” can still be heard to this day in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, to the delight of audiences both young and old.
On a personal note, the Carousel of Progress is far and away my favorite attraction, just as “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” is my favorite Disney song. In February of 2013 (just weeks ago at the time of posting) I was incredibly fortunate enough to be able to speak with Richard Sherman at his home. Before leaving I asked him for a rather large favor. I asked him if I could sing “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” with him. To my great joy, he said, “Sure!” And yes, I remembered to bring my camera. We here at The Disney Project would like to share that with you now, as well as wish “Walt’s Song” a very happy 50th anniversary!