The year was 1974 and America was working itself into a patriotic frenzy with preparations to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the nation. The all-American theme park, Disneyland, joined in on the bicentennial fun and gave visitors an E-Ticket attraction to celebrate the history of American music in a decidedly Disney way: through the use of dozens of audio-animatronic animals, all singing and dancing their way through some of the most-beloved music of our past.
Presented in the same revolving theater that housed the Carousel of Progress for many years, America Sings rotated guests to each of six stages. The first stage introduced the audience to the show’s host, Sam the Eagle (voiced by Burl Ives of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer fame) and his sidekick owl friend. After a rousing rendition of “Yankee Doodle,” the lights would dim as the theater began to spin, moving the audience to the next stage, an introduction to the music of the deep south, with such hits as “Dixie” and “Down in the Valley”. From there, onward to the old west, where animals proceeded to belt out such favorites as “Home on the Range” and “Who Shot the Hole in My Sombrero.” Next was a trip to the gay 90s (1890s, that is) where barbershop quartet geese serenaded with classics such as “After the Ball is Over” and “Sweet Adeline”. For the last represented musical era, guests ended up in modern times, head-banging with such rock and roll standards as “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” “Hound Dog” and “Joy to the World”. Ok, so the modern music was just a tad dated. It was still a fine representation of the origins of rock and roll. Finally, the audience would meet up once again with their buddy, Sam, who would wrap things up with a rousing encore of, you guessed it, “Yankee Doodle.” Good all-American music, and a singing eagle to boot. How much more patriotic can you get?
Sadly, in the late 80s, enthusiasm for the long-since-passed bicentennial and its aging attraction waned, and a decision was made to close the doors. Luckily, all of the animal friends made new homes in the soon-to-be-opened, “Splash Mountain.” The notable exceptions, of course, were two of the geese which got to remain in Tomorrowland (albeit skinned of their feathers) to become droids in the “Star Tours” attraction.
The building that once echoed the music of a bygone era sat empty for a number of years before finally being turned into Innoventions in 1998, an exhibition of the latest computer and software technology. While Innoventions is certainly an attraction that some people enjoy, this grand building is no longer used for its original purpose as a revolving showcase of the finest Disney audio-animatronics, ready to talk and sing to us and bring a smile to our faces. But hey, the tri-centennial is just around the corner (okay, it’s a big corner) and maybe future generations will also get a chance to sing patriotic songs with the fine-feathered friends of “America Sings.”
If you have an fond memories of this extinct Disneyland attraction, we welcome your thoughts in our comments section, as we remember a time when patriotic eagles sang to millions of people, here at Retroland.