Walt Disney World is home to lots and lots of attractions. No matter where you fall on the thrill-o-meter (zero meaning you don’t like any ride that moves; in fact, you don’t like rides at all, and ten meaning you wish even the highway you use to commute to work had corkscrews and loop-di-loops!), there is something for you at Disney.
There are thrilling coasters—one that boasts an 80-foot drop, as well as a log flume ride that races down a five-story drop. On the flipside, there is a steam train that moves so slowly that you can make eye contact with, and wave to, everyone you pass by. There’s even a slowly moving ride in Tomorrowland that allows Guests to sit back, relax and even take a snooze during the trip! So you can see that Disney World has something for everyone when it comes to thrill level.
But Disney World is unique in the theme park arena for its educational attractions that actually attract huge crowds. There simply are no boring attractions at Disney. Walt Disney himself was interested in people, in history, in the inner workings of machines, in the processes needed to bring about a finished product, and he was a patriot as well. And no attraction at Disney World exemplifies Walt’s love for history and his sense of patriotism than the Hall of Presidents attraction at Magic Kingdom. Here are 8 more totally cool reasons to check out this fascinating attraction.
8. It began as an idea of Walt’s for Disneyland.
Once it became evident that Disneyland in Anaheim, California, was a huge success, Walt Disney had the idea to expand a part of Main Street, U.S.A. and call it Liberty Street at Edison Square. His original vision was to create wax figures of all the U.S. Presidents. He knew that something of that nature would be an undertaking, but that it would also be moving and breathtaking, while paying homage to all the men who had served our great country as Commander-in-Chief.
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7. It was ahead of its time when it came to technology.
As with many of Walt’s ideas, his original plans for an attraction that showcased wax figures in the likenesses of past and sitting Presidents grew and changed. What if, thought Walt, the wax figures could be animated so that they moved like actual human beings? But just like some of Walt’s other dreams, his genius was met with a shortage—of technology and know-how at the time. The result was a wax figure that didn’t look like Walt had envisioned, and it didn’t move the way he thought it should.
But he wasn’t going to allow that lack of technology to stop him. He decided to work with his Imagineering department to do what they do best—creating a way where there was no way. The end result was the first “Audio-animatronic” robot in the likeness of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.
6. It is constantly changing.
As fascinating as the Hall of Presidents attraction is, it is in a constant state of change—at least every 4 or 8 years. That’s because each time a new President is elected, the attraction temporarily closes so that a new animatronic robot in the likeness of the new President can be created, and so that the presentation itself can change to include words from the newly-elected leader.
5. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author lent her expertise to the attraction.
Disney has always sought the input of experts when doing so can lend more credibility, believability and accuracy to an attraction. The Hall of Presidents attraction is no different. In fact, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and noted Presidential historian Doris Kearns Godwin shared her expertise with the team of Imagineers in 2009 when updates were made to the words used in the presentation during the attraction.
4. A Disney legend did the sculpting.
Have you ever wondered how the audio-animatronic robots in the Hall of Presidents attraction look so much like the Presidents in whose likenesses they were made? It’s all thanks to the legendary Disney sculptor Blaine Gibson, who sculpted hundreds and hundreds of faces all throughout the Disney Parks. Gibson is responsible for the ghosts and goblins inside the Haunted Mansion attraction, the buccaneers and scurvy pirates inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and the global village children inside the It’s a Small World attraction. And you guessed it—he is also responsible for the Presidents’ likenesses inside the Hall of Presidents. He sculpted faces of the Presidents up through George W. Bush. After that, his apprentice, Valerie Edwards, began sculpting for the exhibit.
3. You actually hear some Presidents’ actual voices.
While some of the Presidents’ voices inside the attraction are those of actors and not the actual leaders, there are some of the voices that were actually recorded by the Presidents themselves for use in the Hall of Presidents attraction at Disney World. The non-imposter voices include those of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and more recently, President Donald Trump.
2. Some of the Presidents moved to EPCOT upon retirement.
It sounds silly, but it’s true. If you take a close look at some of the audio-animatronic robots used inside the Spaceship Earth attraction at EPCOT, you may recognize some of them from earlier days at the Hall of Presidents attraction. That’s because Disney repurposes audio-animatronic robots when possible and feasible. Once inside the Spaceship Earth attraction, you’ll notice that the Greek scholar in one scene is actually a recycled William Henry Harrison robot. One of the Roman soldiers in the attraction was once Zachary Taylor in the Hall of Presidents, and the Roman Senator was once President Theodore Roosevelt. Repurposed Presidents Franklin Pierce, John Tyler, William Howard Taft and John Adams can also be seen inside the Spaceship Earth attraction. Presidents Dwight David Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant also retired at EPCOT.
1. President Trump is the newest to move in.
The Hall of Presidents closed in January of 2017 so that Imagineers could begin the work of bringing President Donald J. Trump to life as part of the attraction. It had been closed for almost a full year when it soft-opened on December 18, 2017. It was fully re-opened to all Guests on December 19, 2017 and debuted Donald Trump as the 45th President of these United States.
No matter which attractions you enjoy at Walt Disney World, you are guaranteed to have the time of your life. And that’s true even of those attractions that teach Guests about history, the presidency and what it means to be the leader of the United States of America.