On December 28, 2001, Elizabeth Mayer, a cast member from the Disney Reservation Center, received an e-mail from a guest, Joanne Stolberg-Alger.
In the letter, Joanne stated that in the early ’60s, her father, a former executive from General Electric, was used as the model for the father figure in the Carousel of Progress.
Her father had kept the fact that he was “starring” in the GE exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair a secret from his family, and planned on taking his family to see their reaction. Unfortunately before he had the opportunity to do so, he passed away at the age of 40.
The family never made it to the World’s Fair, and found out Dad’s big surprise only after his brother attended the Fair, saw his brother’s audio-animatronic twin and came home with the news.
Many years later, Joanne brought her family to Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom theme park to experience seeing her father in the Carousel of Progress. Unfortunately, however, her mother Doris Stolberg did not make the trip and had never seen the attraction.
In Joanne’s December 28 e-mail to Disney Reservation Center, she stated that her daughter, her mother, and she would be in the Orlando area on January 4. Joann asked if there was any way she could buy a ticket just to experience the Carousel of Progress attraction. Elizabeth, a former cast member of the Magic Kingdom Event Group, picked up the phone and called the Event Group to see if there was anything special that they could do for these guests.
It was obvious that this request was very special, and they made a few calls and asked Elizabeth to contact the guest and ask to meet her at the Guest Relations window in front of the park.
On January 4, 2003, Elizabeth came to the Event Group office, and a greeting party set out for the turnstiles to meet Joanne, Doris, and Shannon. With the help of Marvin Smith, Operating Manager of Magic Kingdom Guest Relations, one-day park hopper tickets were waiting at the Guest Relations Window for these special guests.
The party met the family and immediately escorted them towards Tomorrowland.
At the Carousel of Progress, a Disney photographer was waiting for the group and took a picture outside the attraction. Judy Paulsen, a Tomorrowland Guest Service Manager, was awaiting their arrival, and arranged for the guests to have their own private showing of the Carousel of Progress show.
As soon as the theater made its first turn and the father could be seen, Doris, Joanne’s mother, covered her mouth, as tears began to well up in her eyes. She was not alone, as all who were there were also caught up in this magical moment.
She could not take her eyes off the animatronic star of the show. She then smiled and said, “He looks exactly the same as I remember him.”
Read the whole story at MousePlanet.
Image from krisjaus.