For those of us who know our Disney history, we know the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair was a huge turning point for the company. Disney developed, designed, and produced four of the most popular attractions at the Fair, three of which continue to operate in Disney Theme Parks today. These attractions allowed WED develop and practically perfect the audio-animatronics that are now common place in many of our favorite rides.
Of course, being the Disney Nerd that I am, I wanted to check out the site where the Fair once stood, so I recently took a geek pilgrimage out to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Though not much of the fair remains there today, a few remnants of that by gone era can still be found all over the park.
Of course, the most iconic structure of the Fair, the Unisphere, still stands. It still looks like it’s in wonderful condition, and is certainly a site to behold. I got the same feeling of anticipation seeing it that I do when I first catch a glimpse of SpaceShip Earth at EPCOT.
Being as how it was still an “off season” month when I went, the fountain around the Unisphere was turned off, and thus devoid of water. I obviously took this opportunity to get a close up look of it.
Seeing how the globe is supported by its under structure gave me a whole new appreciation for it.
Plus, being up to see it from the inside up was a pretty interesting sight too!
The Queens Museum of Art, located right next to the Unisphere, was originally built as the New York City Pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair.
Inside, they had a small exhibit of both World’s Fairs that took place on site. There was this great photo of Walt and Robert Moses, who was the head of the World’s Fair Corporation, which was charged with getting the 1964/65 Fair built.
Also inside the Museum was the famous panorama of the city of New York, which was built for the 1964 World’s Fair.
This thing was MASSIVE. The sheer scale of it blew me away, and I really couldn’t believe how incredibly detailed it was.
It have had miniature airplanes landing and taking off on its airport!
Wandering the grounds, I came across quite a few remnants of the 1964/65 World’s Fair scattered around the park, including various sculptures and gifts given to the City from foreign countries to display at the fair.
This is the Column of Jerash, given as a gift to the Fair by King Hussein of Jordan.
I also found a fire hydrant that was installed for the 1964/65 World’s Fair, which I thought was pretty neat. I’m sure 99% of the people walking by couldn’t care less about it, but to me, it was a cool little remnant of the past!
Wandering some more, I stumbled upon this cache of bottle tops. Is this the reason why it’s called Corona Park today?
The former site of Progressland, the attraction that Disney produced for General Electric, now sits barren. There is literally nothing left, as is the case for most the Fair’s pavilions. Only a big empty field remains, with nature returning to its dominant state, showing that “Progress” doesn’t always stick around.
However, there was a set of bathrooms on the former Progressland site, and that obviously appealed to my Communicore Weekly senses (Bathroom Break, anyone?)!
The New York Pavilion built for the 1964/65 World’s Fair still stands, but is in terrible shape.
The building itself is closed off to the public, and the once majestic map that adorned its floor is missing.
Though the beautiful glass ceilings are long gone, the Pavilion is still a spectacular sight to behold.
Peaking inside through the fence, you can almost get a feel for what a magnificent place it was back in its hey day.
The lone resident of the pavilion is a cat! Someone must be feeding him, though, because I saw a full plate of food and water near him.
The observation towers next door are in terrible shape as well, and are closed off to the public.
Peaking in some of the side windows on them, you could still see the stairwell that brave souls used to climb to the top, but they were in serious disarray.
It would take a lot of money to restore them to their former glory, but I hope someone comes along one day to do so, because I’m sure the view from up top is still breath-taking!
By far the geekiest moment I had was standing on the former location of It’s A Small World.
Again, nature has been staking its claim and taking over, but to be standing in the same spot that housed the original attraction almost 50 years ago was an amazing feeling.
Having been working closely with Rolly Crump the past year, being able to “stand” under the Tower of the Four Winds was just amazing.
Sure, it may just be a patch of dirt now, but if I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine being there back in its heyday, listening to the hustle and bustle of the crowd walking by.
In all, it was a great trip, and definitely well worth the drive. Like I mentioned earlier, it was definitely a geek pilgrimage for me, and I really think any Disney fan will get a kick out of it. If you happen to be in the New York area, I would highly recommend checking it out!
Tickets are now on sale for the
EPCOT 30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!
Come celebrate EPCOT’s 30th Anniversary in style with a live taping of MiceChat’s Communicore Weekly! Join co-hosts Jeff Heimbuch & George Taylor, along with MiceChat’s Dusty Sage, Kevin Yee, and the Communicore Weekly Orchestra, for a fun-filled night of fandom and frivolity as they tape a special hour long episode of the hit show, Communicore Weekly.
Join us on the evening of Saturday, September 29th 2912 in the Norway Pavilion Special Events Lounge in EPCOT’s World Showcase for this one of a kind event!
Your ticket includes:
- Admission into the live taping of CW in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT (note: admission into the park is NOT included)!
- Meet special guest, Ron Schneider, the original Dreamfinder!
- Decadent dessert reception!
- Short scavenger hunt hosted by Kevin Yee before the show will be available to those who would like to participate (prizes will be awarded)!
- Prizes, giveaways and more!
- The chance to be a part of EPCOT and Communicore Weekly history!
- Endless Five Legged Goats and perhaps even a real life Bathroom Break!
- Exclusive late night ride after park closing on a selected EPCOT attraction to cap off the evening!
For more tickets and more information, be sure to visit MiceChat.com/store!
by Jeff Heimbuch
If you have a tip, questions, comments, or gripes, please feel free email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
You can read past columns of The 626 by clicking here!
Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.
Jeff also writes another column called From The Mouth Of The Mouse. We invite you to check it out.
Jeff co-hosts the weekly VidCast Communicore Weekly as well!