Yesterland
America Sings
Presented by Del Monte
“E” Ticket

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974


Every year, on the 4th of July, Americans celebrate the anniversary of the country’s founding. One of the many aspects of the country worth celebrating is its music. At Yesterland, America Sings is a nostalgic and patriotic salute to American music.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales

Red, white, and blue Carousel Theater

The Carousel Theater, home of America Sings, is a two-level building. But America Sings only uses the lower floor. PeopleMover trains pass through the SuperSpeed Tunnel on the upper floor.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales

Up the ramp to America Sings

Enter one of six identical theaters and have a seat. Prepare to meet Sam the Eagle.

When you hear the name Sam the Eagle, the first line to pop into your head might be, “a salute to all nations, but mostly America.” But that’s a different Sam the Eagle, and that line is from MuppetVision 3-D.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Bryan Curtis, 1985

Sam the Eagle and Ollie the Owl

Sam the Eagle in America Sings, voiced by Burl Ives, is an entirely different character, despite sharing the name with the Muppet.

Sam the Eagle and his sidekick, an owl named Ollie, provide a prologue when the theater doors close. They continue to be your hosts as your theater rotates around a central core in six steps. To the tune of “Yankee Doodle,” Sam introduces four big musical acts while your theater is moving. When the movement stops, the acts begin.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

The Swamp Boys singing “Polly Wolly Doodle”

The first big act takes place in a swamp in the Deep South…

  • A quartet of geese sing a medley of “Dixie,” “L’il Liza Jane,” and “Camptown Races.”
  • A basset hound rocks in his rocking chair, as a chorus sings “My Old Kentucky Home.”
  • The Swamp Boys—three alligators, three frogs and a harmonica-playing raccoon—perform “Polly Wolly Doodle.”
  • An overworked mother possum sings “Lord I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again.”
  • Sitting next to a bubbling still, a coyote sings “The Birmingham Jail,” as a jail cell rises behind him.
  • Foxes, hens, and the frogs finish the act with a rousing rendition of “Down By The Riverside.”
America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

Denizens of the swamp singing “Down by the Riverside”

“I’m gonna lay down my burden,
down by the riverside,
Down by the riverside, down by the riverside
I’m gonna lay down my burden, down by the riverside,
I’m gonna study war no more!”

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

The geese singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”

The second big act is set on a moonlit plain of the Old West…

  • The quartet of geese returns with a medley of “Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” and “Fireball Mail.”
  • A scraggly turkey, Saddlesore Swanson, sings “The Old Chisholm Trail.”
  • A dog wearing a sombrero and sitting on a donkey performs “Who Shot That Hole in My Sombrero?”
  • Two vultures dressed as undertakers, the Boothill Boys, deliver “The Tail End of Billy the Kid.”
  • A guitar-playing dog finishes the set by crooning “Home on the Range,” as little critters appear around him.
America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

Saddlesore Swanson singing “The Old Chisholm Trail”

“Well, come along boys, and listen to my tale,
And I’ll tell you all my troubles on the ol’ Chisholm Trail;
Come a ty yi yippy yippy yay;
Come a ty yi yippy yippy yay;
Well, I went to the boss to draw my roll;
He had me figured nine dollars in the hole.
Ay yi yi yi...”

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay!

The third big act is performed in a Gay Ninties (1890s) ballroom…

  • The geese are back, now all holding mugs of beer, to sing a medley of “She May Be Somebody’s Mother,” “The Bowery,” and “After the Ball is Over”
  • An off-stage tenor and a mother rabbit sing “Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight?”
  • A pink pig in a pink dress belts out “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?”
  • An inebriated goose named Blossom-Nose Murphy sings “Sweet Adeline,” with the quartet of geese joining in.
  • An old gray mare driving a car sings “The Old Gray Mare.”
  • A bird in a gilded cage and a fox sing “I’m Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage.”
  • Storks on old-fashioned bicycles, dancing-girl geese, a pig, the bird in the gilded cage and the fox sing the set’s finale, “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay.”

The final big act takes place in a back alley of a twentieth-century city…

  • The quartet of geese performs a medley of “Ja-Da,” “At the Darktown Strutters’ Ball” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”
  • Entering the stage in a car, four jitterbug-era college students—the boys are a fox and a wolf, and the girls are cats—sing “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” and “Boo Hoo.”
  • A pig playing jazz piano sings “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar.”
  • A rock-n-roll band—a crane and a rooster, with a porcupine as the drummer—performs “Hound Dog,” an alligator joins in for “See You Later Alligator.”
  • A rooster and a frog perform “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.”
  • Two storks on a motorcycle sing “Twistin’ USA.”
  • For the grand finale, most of the scene’s cast performs “Joy to the World” (the Three Dog Night song, not the Christmas carol).
America Sings, Disneyland

Public domain photo by Albaum from Wikimedia Commons

The red, white, and blue Carousel Theater, home of America Sings

After reprising “Yankee Doodle” one last time, Sam the Eagle urges you and everyone else in the audience to join in for “Auld Lang Syne.” You’re back in a simple theater that looks similar to the one you first entered, but it’s actually the exit theater. The show is over. Exit from the Carousel Theater to sounds of a jazzy version of “Stars and Stripes Forever.”


America Sings opened in Disneyland in June 1974. It replaced the General Electric Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland’s Carousel Theater, after the Carousel of Progress moved to Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

America Sings was a fast-moving, entertaining show for all ages—a worthy 1970s-American-Bicentennial-era successor to the Carousel of Progress, which had so amazed audiences in the 1960s. America Sings used clever theatrical techniques to make the performers appear on the stage, such as having characters rise up into view on one side of the stage while lighting directed the audience’s attention to the other side of the stage.

The Enchanted Tiki Room and the Country Bear Jamboree had introduced the concept of the Audio-Animatronic musical revue, but America Sings took the concept to a new level.

The Carousel Theater was a brilliant way to present a show. It provided a huge hourly capacity, yet with intimate theaters that allowed everyone to be close to the stage. Instead of the long waits between the shows of a conventional batch-loading theater, a new show could begin in the Carousel Theater every few minutes.

After a run of almost 14 years—twice as long as the Carousel Theater’s previous show—America Sings closed permanently in April 1988.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1989

Brand new attraction is coming!

After America Sings closed, a sign on the Carousel Theater promised that a new attraction was in the works. Whatever creative ideas the Imagineers in Glendale had for the space, those ideas never made it to Anaheim. For many years, the Carousel Theater was used as office space. The imposing, round building occupied a prime location in Tomorrowland, making it painfully obvious to guests that this was a shuttered attraction. To make matters worse, the adjacent Mission to Mars closed in November 1992 and Skyway to Fantasyland closed in November 1994. This corner of Tomorrowland had become the Disneyland equivalent of a boarded-up downtown block.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Homage to America Sings in Innoventions

Finally, in 1996, construction began to convert the Carousel Theater into a new attraction. Innoventions, a collection of technology exhibits, opened in 1998. Unfortunately, the Carousel Theater had been gutted. When Innoventions opened, guests still had to wait for doors that only opened for a short time every few minutes. But they were no longer entering a theater section. Instead, guests entered a two-level exhibit building with a lower floor that rotated for no particular reason (except to vary which exhibit a guest initially entered).

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

America Sings? No, Splash Mountain

Do the frogs, chickens, and foxes from America Sings look strangely familiar? They should, if you’ve ridden Disneyland’s Splash Mountain. In 1989, almost all the critters from America Sings took up residence at Splash Mountain. They fit right in with the characters from Walt Disney’s 1946 classic, Song of the South—as if they had been part of the movie.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Same alligators

The common denominator was Disney Legend Marc Davis, who designed the characters for Song of the South and America Sings.

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Zip-A-Dee Lady riverboat

The characters that did not readily fit in with the scenes inspired by Song of the South perform on a showboat after the final drop. But not all the characters made the move to Critter Country…

America Sings, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2000

A former America Sings goose working in Star Tours

A couple of geese from America Sings stayed in Tomorrowland. These geese didn’t even wait for America Sings to close before becoming long-necked robots in queue for Star Tours (1987).

In the first two acts, the Geese Quartet became the Geese Trio.

 

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Updated July 4, 2014.