Photo credit: Disney Wikia photo credit: Mark Usciak
We’re excited to showcase a distinctive vehicle with ties to the 1964-65 World’s Fair – a bit of Americana from days gone by. A 1964 Thunderbird Convertible used in the 1964-65 World’s Fair “Magic Sky” attraction will be on view through April 15, 2017 at the Museum. This vehicle is on loan from Dr. Allison and Mark B. Jackson of Birmingham, AL.
History of Magic Skyway:
Once upon a time, imagineers at Disney came up with an idea to create a ride where visitors would seemly travel through time, all from inside a vehicle. Thus, the Magic Skyway was born. Like most Disney rides, a corporate sponsor was needed to provide funding. Ford put their hat in the ring. Their only request was that the ride vehicle be an actual new Ford car. They created a track chain with wheels spaced every three feet, then welded a metal plate onto the undercarriage of the car. This ride system would later be adapted for use in Disneyland’s PeopleMover.
In 1964, The Ford Rotunda at the “World’s Fair” in New York was several city blocks in length and contained a few featured attractions – one of which was the “Magic Skyway”. Seated in a variety of models of actual Ford convertible cars, visitors could sit in the car of their choice and ride on a track along the rotunda’s exterior taking in the overall view of the Fair followed by other diorama scenes built in the main exhibit hall. A number of the exhibits featured in the Ford Rotunda were designed by WED Enterprises, Inc. (Walt Disney) architectural services and engineering company, including the “Magic Skyway.”
The cars selected were delivered to a local Ford dealer where their engine, transmission and drive shaft were removed and several large diameter holes were drilled into their undercarriage for attachment points to the track’s ride mechanism. After the World’s Fair” ended, the cars were returned to the dealer, their engines and drive trains were reinstalled and then sold as a “used” car. This 1964 Thunderbird currently on view at the AACA Museum is one of the actual cars used on the Magic Skyway.
Here is a film of the exhibit, presented by Ford Motor Company of the actual Magic Skyway: