But it is a staple. It doesn’t have the dark thrills of Haunted Mansion, nor the speedy lights of Space Mountain, not even the newness and brightness of the Frozen Ever After boat ride that sadly displaced Maelstrom. But still, The Hall Of Presidents is a time-honored classic that dates back to 1971. It’s the attraction that kids hate because it is usually the parents that want to check it out. Starting with former President William J. Clinton in 1993, The Hall Of Presidents has honored sitting Presidents by proudly showcasing a new animatronic that delivers a speech recorded by the current President. It’s a great tradition.
Before I go any further about President Trump, a short history lesson regarding Disney theme parks is necessary. In the early 1970’s, Disney was ramping up the “pro-American” theme to coincide with the then-upcoming 1976 bicentennial. The Hall of Presidents was an outstanding start, but Disney put a ton of money into the America Sings attraction. It featured a stage on a rotating disc that would showcase an incredible technological marvel. Over one hundred and twenty distinct animatronics…each one looking like a classic Disney barnyard or swampland animal…would sing pro-American songs in an environment that reflected a different part of the country, such as the deep south or the wild west. The songs were fantastic and were sung by classic Disney voices from the mid 20th century. It was an extremely ambitious attraction, and is often overshadowed by the death of Disney worker Debbi Stone being crushed to death between walls when the disc floor rotated just weeks after the attraction opened. America Sings has been gone since the late 1980’s, but many of the animatronics were moved to Splash Mountain.
The point is that the Hall of Presidents, just like America Sings, were products of an age when there was a strong zeitgeist of affirmation of Americanism, most notably when the bicentennial was approaching and only a short time after the American flag was planted on the moon. That American attitude is no longer considered mainstream today.
Shortly after Donald Trump won the election, every angle of anti-Trump coverage has been explored, even going so far as to provide negative coverage of The Hall of Presidents. Numerous ideological zealots circulated petitions to either have President Trump’s animatronic be denied his speech or not be included in the Hall of Presidents altogether. Fortunately, Disney has been classy about the whole affair and has gone forward. President Trump will be featured in The Hall of Presidents, and his animatronic will have a speech. President Trump is expected to record his speech for the attraction relatively soon, and the President Trump animatronic is likewise expected to become part of the attraction relatively soon.
In doing research for this article, I was genuinely curious to see what the public opinion was. I checked out a number of articles on the upcoming President Trump addition to the Hall of Presidents, and went straight to the comments section. I noticed many comments that expressed disdain for the upcoming addition, and many more from supposed faithful Disney park goers that make going to the Hall of Presidents a priority expressing so much contempt that they will refuse to go to the attraction so long as President Trump is featured.
Naturally, I instinctually dismiss most of this as trolling. How many people are actual fanatics of The Hall of Presidents? Less than you would think, I am sure, but I still think there are probably plenty of nostalgic Disney fanatics that regard the attraction as a must, if for no other reason than because their parents made them go to it or simply because it is one of the oldest Disney attractions. So many of the greatest theme park attractions have all come and gone, such as King Kong’s Kongfrontation, Back To The Future, JAWS, Earthquake, Alien Encounter, Twister: Ride It Out, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea just to name a few. You never know when these great attractions are going to be permanently closed, and the opportunity to experience them as they were meant to be experienced is gone forever, only to be shallowly relived by watching videos on youtube. Such is the same with Hall of Presidents, although I think we may take it for granted that it will always be around.
What concerns me is that people might genuinely be rotten enough to ignore The Hall of Presidents just because they dislike President Trump. It bothers me that although the Hall of Presidents has mostly remained the same over the years, the attitude of the park goers may have finally shifted 180 degrees. The original park goers for a generation loved the Hall of Presidents (even if they didn’t like the President) because it struck a chord of patriotism that resonated with the general public. Nowadays, park goers don’t have that connection, and instead are threatening to not visit the attraction. The seismic shift in mainstream American attitudes makes the Hall of Presidents the saddest attraction at Disney.
One venial fear I have is that President Trump’s animatronic will be regularly vandalized. Some park goers are nuts. The golden apple was stolen frequently from the Snow White’s Scary Adventure Ride, and Shane Perez actually swam after-hours to the abandoned Discovery Island (probably through alligator-infested waters) to get pictures of the abandoned attraction. I wouldn’t put it past Disney park goers to attempt to vandalize and/or destroy the President Trump animatronic. His star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame is regularly vandalized, so the possibility of the President Trump animatronic being vandalized doesn’t seem like a stretch. It would be difficult to accomplish considering how the attraction operates, but lunatics will do as lunatics do. I sincerely hope that the Disney cast members that work The Hall of Presidents attraction are taking extra precautions once the ride opens with the new President Trump animatronic.
The bigger fear I have, unfounded as it may be, is that disdain for President Trump will overshadow a time-honored attraction and could lead to Disney contemplating shuttering it and replacing it, especially if park goers refuse to go to it. This would be such a shame because the attraction is so old and famous, plus it is a tremendous reminder of the mainstream pro-American attitudes of the generation it was originally built for.
You can dislike the President, but out of respect of an America long-gone, please leave the Hall of Presidents alone.
Enjoy America Sings. Seeing it will remind you of how Americans felt about their country just a couple generations ago.