America Sings was a show at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, from 1974 to 1988. It featured a cast of Audio-Animatronic animals that entertained the audience by singing songs from various periods in America's musical history, often in a humorous fashion.
America Sings opened in 1974 after replacing the Carousel of Progress after that latter show moved to the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in 1973. America Sings used the same Carousel Theater that its predecessor vacated, with its outer ring of six theaters, all connected by divider walls, revolving mechanically about every four minutes around the six fixed stages in the center of the building. Unlike Disneyland's Carousel of Progress, which rotated clockwise, America Sings went counter-clockwise.
America Sings was comparable to Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree, in that it featured a singing cast of audio-animatronics. The show's Masters of Ceremony were an American bald eagle named Sam (voiced by Burl Ives) and an unnamed owl rumored to be named Ollie (voiced by Sam Edwards). The image of Eagle Sam was designed by Disney animator Marc Davis, as were the other characters. Eagle Sam is completely separate from the Sam the Olympic Eagle character designed a decade later by C. Robert Moore (also a Disney employee) for the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Like the Carousel of Progress, the first and the last scenes of America Sings involved the loading and unloading of guests, while the other four scenes, or "acts", depicted a particular era. However, the identical load and unload theaters each featured a small curtained gazebo with a backdrop showing a park. The curtains would open to reveal Sam and the owl standing on a two-level podium, with Sam standing on the higher level, introducing or closing the show.
Between each act, as the theater rotated with the lights blacked out, Sam sang about the next era the audience was about to enter, reprising the chorus of "Yankee Doodle".
The characters in America Sings were patterned after the characters from the concept art for an animated movie called Chanticleer, that Walt Disney scrapped back in the 1960's.
On July 8, 1974, just two weeks after the attraction opened, 18-year-old Disneyland cast member Deborah Gail Stone was killed when she was crushed between the building's rotating wall and a stationary wall. Stone approached too close to the area between the rotating wall and the non-moving stage wall and was caught between them. According to witnesses, she was playfully darting in and out between the walls while the building rotated. At one point she mis-judged the rotation speed and was decapitated. The Attraction was stopped when guests in the adjacent theater heard her screams. Her family sued the Disney corporation but lost because it was determined that she was not following the proper safety protocols.
Afterwards, America Sings was closed for two days while safety lights were installed, and for one year, management closed the theater in which Deborah was killed. Eventually, the walls were remodeled so that they would breakaway if a similar incident occurred.
America Sings was finally replaced by Innoventions, a version of the Epcot attraction of the same name, in 1998 and America Sings still plays at Disneyland Paris in French Laguage, As of Today. Most of the Audio-Animatronic animals were moved to Disneyland's Splash Mountain log flume, which opened on Disneyland's 34th anniversary on July 17, 1989. Two goose Audio-Animatronics were taken out before America Sings even closed. In 1986, they had their "skin" removed, which left only a robotic skeleton, and had their heads replaced, and were used as two talkative G2 droids in the queue to Star Tours, which would open in early 1987. The rock and roll stork in the finale is now used by Imagineers for training new Animatronics programmers, acting as a final exam of sorts. The remainder of the show's Audio-Animatronics were recycled.