Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

Remembering Ronald Reagan and the World of Disney

Remembering Ronald Reagan and the World of Disney

  • Comments 2

Both Reagan and Walt had testified as friendly witnesses before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities in 1947. In the October 25, 1947 "New York Times" it was noted that the principal witness of the day's hearings, Walt Disney, failed to fill the hall with spectators as friendly witness Ronald Reagan had the previous day. Interestingly, both Walt and Reagan had battled the infamous labor leader, Herbert Sorrell.

Even the most casual Disney scholar knows that Walt Disney asked his good friend, Art Linkletter, to be the host for the live opening of the Disneyland theme park on July 17, 1955. Broadcast on ABC and known as "Dateline:Disneyland", the show needed two other hosts and Linkletter picked two friends because they were good talkers and ad-libbers, Bob Cummings and "Ronnie" Reagan. Reagan introduced the opening ceremonies on Main Street and the opening of Frontierland.

Art Linkletter shared with Larry King that "Ronnie was my closest friend because the family, Lois and I and he and Jane and then when he married Nancy, we knew them socially. And we had done the friar's roasts together. We did the opening of Disneyland together. And we were both former swimmers. In fact, I gave him the International Swimming Hall of Fame plaque because I was president of that at one time."

When Reagan became Governor of California in 1966, one of the things he did was to eloquently promote through correspondence with the Postmaster General of the United States the creation of a commemorative Walt Disney stamp which was eventually issued on September 1968.

The very first person to be honored as part of the "Spirit of America" exhibition at the Ronald Reagan President Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California was Walt Disney in an exhibit labeled "Walt Disney: The Man and His Magic" which ran from May 13 through September 4, 2001 and featured everything from Herbie the Love Bug to the special Oscar presented to Walt Disney for "Snow White" to Walt's elementary school desk from Marceline.

An audio-animatronic President Reagan is part of the Hall of Presidents attraction at the Magic Kingdom. A bronze bust of Reagan sculpted by Blaine Gibson who sculpted all the Presidents in the attraction was part of the exhibit at the Reagan Museum.

Besides visiting Disneyland, when he became President of the United States, Reagan visited the American Adventure at Epcot on March 8, 1983. He viewed the "American Adventure Attraction" which depicts the creation and growth of the United States in one of the most elaborate audio-animatonic attractions of the time. After the presentation, the President visited with students participating in the World Showcase Fellowship Program, an educational and cultural exchange program that no longer exists at Epcot but was designed to enable outstanding young adults to represent their various countries for one year in the pavilions of World Showcase. President Reagan spoke at 1:52 p.m. in the outdoor Amphitheater outside the American Adventure. He addressed outstanding math and science students from the Central Florida area, the Fellowship students and guests of the center, after an introduction by Richard Nunis, who was then executive vice president of Disney Enterprises.

President Reagan began his speech with the following comments:

"Well, I'm delighted to be here. I'm especially pleased to acknowledge the presence today of a group of students from eight countries. They're participants in the World Showcase Fellowship Program which Disney World has generously established as part of EPCOT. This excellent program brings young people from Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom to EPCOT. It gives them the opportunity to experience American culture firsthand, to learn and, even more important, to teach.

"This is just the kind of approach that we're encouraging through the President's International Youth Exchange Initiative which I announced last May at the White House. For those of you who haven't seen it -- well, first of all, let me say I'm convinced that people-to-people programs like World Showcase and the International Youth Initiative are one of the best ways to build real understanding in the world.

"I'm very happy to see so many young people here today, the math and science whizzes of central Florida, plus the students participating in the World Showcase Fellowship Program. And you adults are welcome, too. [Laughter]

"I just watched a program -- I don't know just what to call it -- a show, a pageant with several hundred of my junior high and high school friends here, and I'm pleased to announce I didn't get hit with one spitball. [Laughter] But this program does capture the vitality of what we represent as a nation. And as I'd started to say earlier, I was going to remark that earlier -- for those of you who haven't seen it -- at one point in the movie Mark Twain, speaking of America, says, ``We soared into the 20th century on the wings of invention and the winds of change.''

"Well, in a few years' time, we Americans will soar into the 21st century and again it will be on the wings of invention and the winds of change. This afternoon, I'd like to explain how you, our young people, can ride those wings and winds of the future to a better life."

President Ronald Reagan's second inaugural on January 21, 1985 had to be held indoors. The outside temperature at noon was only 7°F. The morning low was 4° below zero and the daytime high was only 17°. Wind chill temperatures during the afternoon were in the -10 to -20°F range. President and Mrs. Reagan and Vice-President and Mrs. Bush greeted the thousands of people who came to Washington, DC to participate in the parade inside a sports arena just outside the city. A huge American Flag, 63 feet long and 24 feet tall, perched atop a farm wagon float went inside as the backdrop on the stage.

Instead of an outdoor parade, the president and first lady presided over a hastily organized miniparade in the Capital Centre sports arena, some ten miles outside the city in Landover, Maryland. Only five of the thirty-three bands originally scheduled to march got to perform for the TV cameras.

Several months later, in a precedent setting move, President Reagan accepted an invitation for a smaller version of the inaugural parade with the disappointed bands that were unable to participate to be staged on the promenade of World Showcase at Epcot at Walt Disney World. He was brought in by helicopter that landed behind the American Adventure pavilion.

The President spoke at 12:41 p.m. on May 27, 1985 from a reviewing stand resembling a huge plexiglass box in front of the American Adventure Showcase at EPCOT Center. Michael Eisner and his wife were also there. Participating in the parade were the bands scheduled to perform in the 1985 Inaugural Parade, which was canceled due to extremely cold weather.

Here is the text of President Reagan's speech where he references Walt Disney:

"Please all be seated, and I want to thank all of you, Senator Paula Hawkins, Congressman Ireland, Congressman Connie Mack -- McCollum, the distinguished people here, and Mr. and Mrs. Eisner, all of you ladies and gentlemen, and these wonderful young people.

"We have come here -- our first stop this morning on this Decoration Day was at Arlington Cemetery -- and I just wonder if because of the special character of this day, Memorial Day, if we couldn't perhaps bow our heads for a few seconds in silent prayer for those who have given their lives that we might live in liberty. [A silent prayer was observed.] Amen.

"Well, indeed it is an honor for me to be here today to receive a magnificent gift that I received on a second and very much warmer Inauguration Day. I understand that in preparing for this event more than 2,500 young people worked with sponsors in the private sector who donated food, transportation, and lodging. And each of you who helped to make this private sector initiative possible has my heartfelt thanks.

"Tomorrow evening I will address the Nation about a dramatic proposal to reform our tax system. It's a proposal intended to launch a new American revolution and to give to you young people, as you come of age, a nation of ever-greater freedom and vitality and strength.

"You know, today we're enjoying a standard of living that, when I was your age, could not even have been imagined. Buoyed by medical breakthroughs and rising standards of living, the life expectancy of Americans has been increasing steadily for 50 years. I've already surpassed my own life expectancy at my birth by 20 years. Now, there are a lot of people that find that a source of annoyance, but I appreciate it very much.

"Today we take for granted so many inventions that inspired wonder not long ago -- the polio vaccines of Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin; television, first in black and white and now in vivid color; drought-resistant seeds and cold-resistant grains; computers in the workplace and the home; spacecraft that can orbit the Earth for days and then land gently on a desert runway. Despite the predictions so many made during the Great Depression when I was a young man, life in America today is not worse -- it's far better. And let us ask, then, what made it so? Was it government directing our daily lives?

"During these past five decades the Government has indeed provided vital services and helped improve life for many people. No one doubts the necessity of a strong national defense or the role our military has played in keeping us free. Likewise no one doubts the importance of the government safety net for those in genuine need.

"Yet our national experience shows that when government grows beyond these two limited duties, when government lays claim to more and more of our resources and begins, through massive regulation and high taxation, to impinge on our individual freedoms, then our economy grows not more prosperous but less so.

"Throughout the 1970's, for example, government's growth was unbridled, yet our economy stagnated. By 1980 the gross national product registered zero growth. If it was not the Government that spurred our economic growth was it perhaps our natural resources? Our vast land has always been blessed by a mighty multitude of resources -- broad plains, powerful rivers, and rich deposits of minerals. Yet in a sense, the primary reality of a resource exists not in the earth but in the minds of the men and women who give it usefulness and value.

"Consider oil. A century ago oil was nothing but a thick, foul, and useless liquid. It was the invention of the internal combustion engine that gave oil its function. Or think of sand, sand that used to be nothing but the stuff that deserts are made of. The development of the silicon microchip has given sand a vital function. And today we use it to make chips that give home computers their intelligence, monitor functions on aircraft, and guide our satellites through the dark reaches of space. No, it's not been so much our resources or our government that have given us our enduring vibrancy and growth but the initiative and enterprise of individual Americans.

"Air travel, for example, has become commonplace because test pilots like Lindbergh had daring, and engineers like Boeing and Douglas had the wits and determination. The Government might have wished it could simply decree a polio vaccine, but it took years of unremitting effort and dedication by Doctors Salk and Sabin to make the vaccines a reality.

"In this setting, one story of a private initiative is particularly appropriate. Back in Missouri in the early 1900's there lived a farmboy who discovered that he had a knack for drawing barnyard animals. As an adult, he began to put his animals into cartoons, and he became convinced that he could entertain people by telling stories about a little creature with a high voice, red trousers, and yellow shoes and white gloves.

"Professionals in the field made fun of the idea, and to produce his first cartoons the young man had to sell or pawn virtually everything he owned. But today, 57 years later, this man and his creation have become permanently fixed in the history of our popular culture. His name was Walt Disney; his little creature was Mickey Mouse.

"The determination that each of these heroes of progress demonstrated came from within. Yet in each case it was crucial to the success of their efforts that they were operating in a climate of economic liberty -- in a free market where they could make use of pooled resources, experiment with new techniques and products, and submit their plans and hypotheses to the test of practical experience.

"This aspect of freedom, economic freedom, is one of the distinctive characteristics of life in our nation, as interwoven into the American legacy as freedom of speech and press. It has enabled our people to make our nation into a marvel of economic progress, and, as with all the freedoms that we enjoy, it's our duty to cherish and protect it.

"Just as the American people rebelled against oppressive taxation some two centuries ago, the reform that I will announce tomorrow will represent a dramatic effort to make our tax code more simple, efficient, and fair and place more resources into the hands of your families and, ultimately, you yourselves. It'll expand our economic freedom and clear the way for even greater economic vitality than that which we enjoy today.

"Nor will the benefits be economic alone. With more resources at their disposal, the American people will be able to provide greater support to the institutions that they themselves value -- our schools, universities, the arts, our churches and synagogues. As our economy grows they, too, will flourish.

"John Marshall said, ``The power to tax involves the power to destroy.'' If so, then the power to cut taxes must surely be the power to create -- the power to force government to stand back and let the people themselves give expression to the spirit of enterprise -- building and imagining; giving to you, our sons and daughters, a nation of ever-greater prosperity and freedom.

"My friends, thank you again for the gift of this magnificent inaugural parade. May you enjoy all the blessings of a free and bountiful nation, and on this, the eve of the second American revolution, may you always remember the enduring truth that our tax plan seeks to embody and that Americans have cherished through the ages -- God made man for liberty.

Thank you all, God bless you, and now, let the parade begin."

Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post
  • Good article

  • This news is the most important thing.

Page 1 of 1 (2 items)