In his new book, “Team of Vipers” former senior White House aide Cliff Sims reveals some of the back and forth that took place as Disney added President Trump to Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents following his election 2 years ago. As Disney fans and longtime readers of Inside the Magic well know there was an unusually long delay in the reopening of the Hall of Presidents after President Trump was elected.
Back on January 17, 2017, the Hall of Presidents closed and did not reopen until December 18, 2017. This 11-month closure was well beyond the initially projected project end date of June 30, 2017. So what happened that required an extra 5 1/2 months to complete the update? And was the delay politically motivated? Given what we know now it doesn’t appear so.
Depending on perspective some of the more common guesses about the delayed open range from a specific desire by Disney to censure or silent the President with a non-speaking role to others speculating that it was due to some specific political action taken by the President. These theories lined up backers on both sides and led to some heated debate in Disney fan circles.
The confusion grew when an interview from Vice was released, which Inside the Magic detailed here. Vice claimed that Trump’s communication team was combating Disney Imagineers regarding specifics of the speech. In fact that Vice report fueled additional speculation because their initial report was quickly retracted.
The retraction was noteworthy as many noted that Vice Media is owned by The Walt Disney Company. Furthermore, the retraction was messy with Vice first issuing a partial retraction later followed by a full retraction. Additionally, Disney issued an official statement refuting the claims from Vice.
To say these factors created drama is putting it mildly. But what if there was no politically charged argument from either President Trump’s camp nor Disney? Could there actually be a more reasonable explanation for the excessive 11-month delay?
Well according to Cliff Sim’s new book “Team of Vipers” it appears there was and it all had to do with SKYSCRAPERS???? As Mr. Sim’s details to the Daily Beast who received an advanced copy of the book.
In fact, it appears according to their report the President may have actually been excited to record his voice for the Hall of Presidents and wanted to add a little Pro-America bragging not to mention some personal bragging on the side. Speaking of the President’s duty to record his voice for Disney, Sims claims it “was a presidential duty that filled the President with unusual boyish excitement.”
The President’s initial version of the speech reportedly included the claim that America “invented the skyscraper” along with the brag “Which of course I know a thing or two about, right?” referring to his real estate business.
As such the Vice story appears to at least be partially right because as Sims confirms the Disney’s Imagineers eventually rejected that recording as they felt a skyscraper isn’t really an invention rather it is a very tall building. Ultimately Cliff Sims removed that line from the President’s speech so that it could be re-recorded into the speech we have today.
Where the Vice story was wrong is a difference of opinion about skyscrapers hardly matches the level of conflict that was inferred. But despite what many of us assumed, it is not too surprising this misinterpretation occurred given just how passionate both sides of the political spectrum were then and now. If anything the debate over how to represent the President at The Happiest Place On Earth was simply the warm up to our current political climate with disagreements on many more important issues than skyscrapers.
Does this new revelation change how you feel about the Trump Animatronic in The Hall of Presidents? Let us know in the comments below.
If you haven’t seen the Hall of Presidents, be sure to check out the full video or this history of this great attraction that was near and dear to Walt Disney’s heart in this inside look. Setting political opinions aside it truly is an amazing attraction that should give all Americans great pride.