If You Had Wings Overview
If You Had Wings
occupied the space in Tomorrowland
that is now the home of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger
Spin. As with some of its neighbors from years past,
CircleVision 360 and Mission To Mars, If You Had Wings
had a relatively unremarkable exterior. It consisted of an
identifying sign pylon, white concrete walls and a dark
blue angular portal that framed the glass door
entryway. Seen to the left in a Spring 1972 photo, IYHW had a WEDway track
above its entrance a full three years before the WEDway Peoplemover opened (July
1975). IYHW's doorway was flanked by a set of wall signs, dimensional
letters and Eastern logos that changed slightly over the ride's years of
operation. The entrance was usually staffed by a cast member known as a
The ride began
with guests disappearing into
darkness. The black walls of the globe's interior came
alive with the white silhouettes of seagulls in flight. The
persistent whirr of the ride's 16 millimeter film projectors
snuck up out of nowhere and the ride's theme was
introduced by a gleeful chorus of unseen singers. This
simple song, written by Buddy
Baker and X. Atencio, became a favorite for many visitors to the park. "If
you had wings, you could do many things, you could
widen your world, if you had wings...If you had wings, if
you had wings, if you had wings, had wings, had wings,
had wings..." Repetitive as hell, just like It's A Small World's
theme, thereby making it all the more memorable.
All sense of motion in the attraction - beyond that of the actual ride vehicles - was achieved through the use of film and effects projectors. By and large the ride's backdrops served as framing for projected images. There were no moving props or animated figures, but the ride was still very "alive." This was due in large part to the creative genius of Claude Coats, a key WED Imagineer, Walt Disney Productions artist and the attraction's principal designer. His gift for staging gave the ride a strong sense of atmospheric plausibility.
After passing below the dragon's head, the cars descended into a Caribbean seaport. To the right was an ocean liner, inventively dubbed the "Caribbean Cruiser," preparing to set sail. Passengers lined the railings of the boarding deck, waving and throwing streamers. A steel drum band played in their midst. In the harbor below, a slew of smaller watercraft dotted the horizon. The image of a dancing couple was silhouetted against the sail of small sloop. Down in the water, divers groped through the kelp for treasure.
At the water's edge, in a shack marked "Sport Fishing," a tourist posed proudly with his catch (a swordfish of indeterminate proportions) while his wife set up to snap a picture. As the man stood there beaming, the fish hanging next to him grew larger and smaller, evidently illustrating the vast difference between what he'd caught and his own biased impression of it.
The cars turned left again and entered a straw market. In a small building decorated with all manner of hand-woven goods was another couple, who tried to make a sale (in time with the music) to passing guests. "Wanna buy a sombrero," the man inquired, "made of real fine straw? How about a nice handbag, for pretty mama?" His wife sat beside him, eagerly trying to unload a hat. The straw market scene then gave way to Puerto Rico, as the cars swung back to the right and began another slow incline. Through tropical foliage guests viewed a group of young people doing the limbo. Then the battlements of San Juan's Castillo San Felipe del Morro rose around the track. Through archways guests had aerial views of the seacoast and the fort, with now-familiar seagulls passing by. In another arch was a musical group fronted by a cheerful lady playing the maracas and putting yet another twist on the ride's theme song.
The cars leveled off at the entrance to the fort, wherein another series of arches framed out scenes of the Bahamas. A marching band stormed by with their rendition of the song, and with every other line of music their image gave way to a street traffic traveling in the opposite direction. This motif was repeated in the next several archways, but now the street traffic alternated with a flurry of flamingos rushing down a shallow waterway. In a central arch, a Bahamian traffic cop in white knee socks and shorts had his hands full attempting to regulate this bizarre flow of events. With a whistle perched resolutely in his mouth, he pivoted to the left and right in a thankless pursuit of order.
the right, a new vista unfolded. Here was a stunning view of Jamaica's Dunn's
River Falls and the surrounding jungle vegetation, rife with
butterflies. Making their way up to the top of the many-tiered waterfall was a
large gathering of swimsuited
young people. As they reached various plateaus on their climb, they would "dance"
across the water in group formations - in reality holding on to each other so as not to
slip. Further along was a window looking out across a twilight lagoon in Trinidad,
where more flamingos flew by every few seconds.
Show Scene Breakdown
* A 1972 Eastern publication proudly proclaimed that Orson Welles, who had
done voiceover work on the
airline's TV ads, would also lend his voice to the queue area. While I
have no recordings of this, outside sources have
confirmed that Welles' voice did appear in the attraction during its earliest years. By the late
1970s, a new voice was used and remained until the ride closed. That voice sounds like either
John Forsythe or Disney Studio mainstay Peter Renoudet, who provided the voice-over on a "demo
tape" of the ride as well as voices for several other Magic Kingdom attractions.