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Does WDI plan on gagging our next Commander-in-Chief as part of the 2009 redo of WDW's "Hall of Presidents" ?

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Does WDI plan on gagging our next Commander-in-Chief as part of the 2009 redo of WDW's "Hall of Presidents" ?

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While some of us are obsessing about the impact that today's primaries may have on the upcoming presidential race ... The Imagineers are already looking ahead. Nine months ahead, to be exact. To that period immediately after the U.S. has selected its next Commander-in-Chief. Which means that it will then be time for WDI to once again revisit "The Hall of Presidents."

And this time around, Walt Disney Imagineering is determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past. In particular that whole let's-get-the-new-president-to-record-a-speech-that-we-can-then-insert-into-this-show idea.

On paper, this seemed to be a terrific promotional gimmick for that 36-year-old attraction. Throw a banner over the entrance to "The Hall of Presidents" that then invites WDW visitors to come see a robotic version of our newest Chief Executive speak.

Disney Legend Blaine Gibson sculpts a bust of President George W. Bush.
Copyright 2001 Disney. All Rights Reserved

But what the Imagineers hadn't counted on was the Monica Lewinsky scandal and/or that George W. Bush would wind up with the lowest presidential approval rating in history. And given that it really takes away from the dignity of the "Hall of Presidents" presentation when audience members boo the AA version of the President whenever he begins to speak ... Well, that's why WDI is now looking to return things to the way they used to be at this Liberty Square attraction.

Which means that an Audio Animatronic version of our next president will be added to this attraction sometime in 2009. More importantly, that this new Commander-in-Chief will be mentioned as part of that show's roll call sequence. But beyond that ... Given how poorly those speaking versions of the Bill Clinton & George Bush AA figures have been received ... The next president's appearance in this Magic Kingdom show? Well, it's strictly going to be a non-speaking role.

Mind you, one of the other reasons that the Imagineers are now planning on cutting this speech is that they're looking to shave a few minutes off of "The Hall of President" 's running time. Cutting "THOP" back from its current 22 1/2 minutes to something much closer to 15 minutes. So that Disney World could then (in theory, anyway) go from running two shows an hour through this 700-seat theater to running three shows an hour. Thereby significantly increasing the hourly capacity of this Liberty Square attraction.

Copyright 2001 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Now before all of you "Hall of Presidents" fans (all three of you) get irate ... Let me stress that this isn't just a case of take away. The way I hear it, the Imagineers are actually planning on adding something new to this Magic Kingdom classic. To be specific, creating a moment in this show where that AA version of Abraham Lincoln would then stand up and recite the Gettysburg Address.

Okay. To be fair, this new Gettysburg Address sequence that WDI is now considering adding to "The Hall of Presidents" ? It isn't exactly new. This scene was actually created for that revised version of "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" which opened at Disneyland back in July of 2001. So what we're really talking about here is an artful bit of recycling on Imagineering's part. Freshening up this tired old WDW show by sending a relatively new chunk of an Anaheim-based attraction back east.

That said ... Walt Disney World has set aside a fairly large amount of money for this upcoming redo of "The Hall of President." Though -- to be truthful -- a lot of this dough will be dedicated toward making this 36-year-old show building that much more wheelchair & electric convenience vehicle - friendly.

 Copyright 1995 Disney. All Rights Reserved

These improvements will include reconfiguring the entrance of this Liberty Square attraction so that its current doorway / turnstile set-up will then be wide enough to allow a guest riding on an ECV to roll right into the lobby and then proceed straight into that theater. And then -- to better accommodate all of these WDW visitors who are now traveling in wheelchairs and/or riding on electric convenience vehicles -- WDI is planning on ripping out the back two rows of that Magic Kingdom theater to create additional handicap seating.

But as to whether these changes will then actually convince any WDW visitors to come give "The Hall of Presidents" another try ... I'm reminded of the joke that you hear as you exit another Magic Kingdom attraction, "The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management." Where Iago -- having just avoided death at the hands of Uh-Oa, the tiki goddess of disaster -- yawns and stretches his wings before saying:

"Boy, I'm tired! I think I'll head over to the Hall of Presidents and take a nap."

Copyright 1998 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Sadly, that's how far too many WDW visitors now view this Liberty Square show. As this great air-conditioned spot where you can then catch a few Zzzs while visiting the Magic Kingdom.

So is there anything that can be done to actually improve this attraction? Or is "The Hall of President" forever doomed to be the theme park equivalent of a bran muffin. As in: It's something that we all know is good for us, but few of us really enjoy.

Your thoughts?

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  • I'm actually in favor of only having Lincoln speak. The booing does take away from the show, and I think having the current President speak takes away from the historical nature of the show. As far as other ways to plus the attraction, I really don't want any. I think the show is good the way it is, minus the current President's speech.

  • I wouldn't mind losing the film. It's a fine film, people worked hard on it, I just get "movied out" at WDW.

    From what I understand, it's easier now than it's ever been to reprogram the AA figures. How about a show where some of the presidents explain why the electoral college came into being, instead of utilizing a popular vote for president. How about a show that discusses different presidential programs throughout history - the "New Deal" or creating the National Parks system. Nothing major - right around five to ten minutes each and rotate with the classic "rollcall and Lincoln" show. If all the presidents throughout history were really in one room, wouldn't they interact, argue, debate. Bring in an AA figure of Nancy Grace and let her interview all of them - she'll cut them off if they get boring.

  • Does the attraction really need to squeak in 3 shows an hour if attendence has been so lite over the years.  The new banner could read "Visit the Hall of Presidents With Three Chances to Nap Every Hour"......

    Joking aside...I dig the HOP.  Not that its a must see each and every time though....


  • Sounds like what it needs is some randomized variety... Keep some standard introduction and the climactic Gettysburg Address, but bix it up with a set of "greatest speeches" of safely historical presidents that play in different, mixed and matched arrangements each show. Make it so that you'd have to attend at least a good dozen times to catch all of them.

    And I dunno'... Do they jazz that show up any? What about videos and effects related to each president, which play while he's giving his speech? What about all that bursting bomb patriotic stuff?

  • I might be the only one to say it ... but considering that we'll have a historic first in that a black or woman might win the presidency -- it's a shame that won't get the full and proper treatment it deserves ...

    and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address isn't the best Disney can do with this attraction ... the compilation of highlights from several of Lincoln's speeches as used for years at Disneyland is far more stirring ...

    I also like Cory's idea ... and imagine oratory from Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan and possibly the gifted speaker Barack Obama could make the show far more attractive for repeat visitors.

    Maybe it's time to for the Imagineers to remind us all: "Yes, We Can."

  • I think that the entire attraction should be euthanized and replaced with something a little more interesting like 'The American Adventure' at Epcot.  

    Then they could take all the old AAs over to Epcot, stick 'em on 'The Land' boat ride and boost the attendance numbers for this yawn fest.

  • Why can't they finally bite the bullet and transform this into a shooting gallery?

    Though, seriously, if Disney is going to do anything with the Hall of Presidents they should return it to its original "One Nation Under God" presentation.  The Disneyland revamp of Lincoln was a mess, with a weak voice job (no Royal Dano there) and a scuffy-looking nerfherder of an animatronic...there's no sense in cloning that thing.

    Of course, it would be a real swell thing if Disney could get some gumption and actually create a show that **guests actually want to see** in this venue.   I've heard great things about the Ghosts of the Library show at the Lincoln Library.  Why can't WDW have a show that is at least AS MAGICAL as some museum in Illinois?


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  • Well, if there was ever a time to silence the newest President, it's now. No matter which three of these losers ends up in the White House, it'll end up being another 4 years of pandering to special interests on both sides of the aisle while the average American takes it in the rear.

    But I digress ...

    First off, if you're such a loser that you boo an Audio-Animatronic version of our country's chief executive, you should be tossed out of the park. I dislike Clinton and Bush as much as anyone else, but I would never be so disrespectful as to boo them. Not even so much out of respect for the office (which both of them disrespected more times than I ever could), but out of respect for my fellow guests. It's just plain rude and if I EVER was in a show of HoP where someone did that, he'd have a big problem on his hands.

    Secondly, why in the world would WDW management want to run 3 instead of 2 shows?? I mean I love HoP as much as the next guy, but come on ... the theater is never more than 1/2 full.

    Which brings me to my third and final point. Maybe more people would like this show if it wasn't a 22 1/2 minute "White Guilt Festival." The entire show basically boils America's great history down to the fact that we once had slaves. There's no mention of any of the amazing things this country has accomplished. Frankly, it's really annoying. That's one of the main reasons I never go to see the show anymore. It would be like being Italian, going to the Italy pavilion at Epcot, and having to sit through a 22 1/2 minute show on Benito Mussolini's reign. Or a German watching "The Adolf Hitler Review" in the Germany pavilion. Does anyone really think Germans or Italians would go see shows like that?? I don't.

    Ever since Eisner listened to Eric Foner and changed the show into a long, boring apologist festival, I've lost interest. This attraction used to celebrate America's accomplishments, the great things so many in this country have done over the years and, while I think slavery should definitely be mentioned, there's no excuse for it being the entire focus of the show. That's one small portion of America's history that happens to be shameful. Why are we the only country in the world that's expected to self-flagellate on our vacations???

  • Nostalgia doesn't cut it with HOP.  Time to gut it and put in a new attraction.  The Magic Kingdom shouldn't be a museum.

  • Pickstar....could not agree more!

  • I agree with Pickstar's last three paragraphs.

  • Pickstar, you make some valid points.  The show should definitely be about the amazing accomplishments we have made as Americans. I think that a few different presidents should speak to tell us what happened while they were President, with a filmd running behind them to dramatize it.  People should leave the theatre feeeling proud to be an American, or with a better understanding of what it is to be an American.  I like the IDEA of the show, but it really is dull.  And I have not enjoyed any of the latest Presidents speeches. If either Hillary or Obama win, they should get a VERY short speech just to acknowledge that we've finally elected either a woman or African-American to office. At least it is a relevant piece of history.

  • First off, thanks for the words of agreement. Normally, I feel like I'm out on an island. It's nice to hear I'm not always nuts. ;)

    Destino, despite what I said I actually agree with you that if Clinton or Obama gets elected it would be fine for them to just have a short speech that says something like, "I'm so proud to be the first woman/African-American President ... etc."

    The truth is, on a personal level, I'm just so down on our "leaders" these days that in reality I really don't want to hear a word from them.

  • I love the Hall of Presidents. However, I have never been to WDW! I have seen the show on video. I like the idea of cutting the current president speeches. Especially if Hillary Clinton were to win the next election. Should they remove it, personally I hope they don't. I am a Civil War amateur historian and I find Lincoln fascinating however as others have stated, Disneyland and WDW aren't museums. As such, I think that most young kids would be happier to see something new in that spot. As far as the Lincoln robot, they could just put that over in the Walt Disney story. Even if they just put in inside a store front window and let it run through it's routine continually so those who want to see Lincoln can do so. Or maybe put Lincoln in the American Story show at WDW. That could be interesting especially since they currently have one of the great mans real stove pipe hats on display there, on loan from the home of Lincoln's son Robert.

  • I'm not a regulat at WDW (not as regular as I'd like to be anyway!) but when I went last year we checked this show out twice, and both times it was less than half-full; why have three shows an hour if that's what two shows gets? Surely it's best to improve it and fill up those two shows better?

    Unless the logic is people don't like waiting around for teh next show to start, and more shows=less waiting...

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