Fans Speak Out: What Should Disney Do With The Hall of Presidents?

in Walt Disney World

hall of presidents

Credit: Disney (left) ITM (right)

With the dawn of a new Presidential administration comes the closure and refurbishment of Disney World’s Hall of Presidents. Now that Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, it is time — as Disney tradition would indicate — for the Hall of Presidents to accurately depict that. We recently reported that the Hall of Presidents closed down just after midnight on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, to add President Biden to the attraction.

Hall of Presidents
Credit: Disney

That being said, many Disney fans and publications have been speaking out as of late on their thoughts as to what should happen with Disney’s Hall of Presidents.

For those who do not know, the Hall of Presidents is a theatrical animatronic show that has every single President of the United States represented on stage. The official description reads:

In the Presence of the Presidents
Take your seat in the stately theater, home to 3 massive digital projection screens and a grand proscenium. Watch an original film—developed by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian—that tells the dramatic story of the nation’s founding.

Learn about the formation of our Constitution and the hard-fought struggles along the way—such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. Listen to the stirring words of John F. Kennedy echo through the theater and watch Abraham Lincoln—in attendance on stage—deliver his Gettysburg address.

hall of presidents
Credit: Disney

The Presidents Will See You Now
Watch the curtain rise to reveal startlingly realistic Audio-Animatronics replicas of every President of the United States—together for the very first time. Hear speeches delivered by George Washington and the newest addition to the Hall, 45th President Donald J. Trump.

Wondering why there are 44 and not 45 figures onstage? Because Grover Cleveland served 2 non-consecutive terms as both the 22nd and 24th president.

Unlike Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln — an attraction that Walt Disney helped create for the 1964 World’s Fair and brought to Disneyland in 1965 — the Hall of Presidents does not have a direct tie to Walt himself. With other classic attractions, such as Splash Mountain, being reimagined — in this case, to include characters and themes from The Princess and the Frog — we know that Disney is always innovating in both big and small ways.

Now, the question remains: What should Disney do with the Hall of Presidents?

Credit: Disney

After the recent United States Capitol Building riots, many Disney fans began to answer this question on various websites and social media platforms, developing a variety of solutions.

The Hall of Presidents has previously received complaints when a new President is added to the attraction, which is understandable considering a Presidential election will always have voters for both the Republican and Democrat parties. So, in the end — one group is bound to be upset.

That being said, it seems that the addition of Donald Trump to the attraction has created more problems than past updates. Some fans think the best way to fix the problem is by removing the attraction entirely.

Josh Young from Theme Park University pointed out a potentially major issue that comes along with the Hall of Presidents attraction — the show is, by nature, highly political and could incite anger and debate within a theme park that is meant to be the Most Magical Place on Earth. This is certainly a contradictory narrative. Young stated, “Since the new version has opened, two to three Disney security Cast Members are stationed in the theater and rotunda for every show. Why? To try and keep the peace in case someone decides to create a scene.”

Credit: DIsney

Disney World is a form of escapism for many people, where Guests can come together despite their differences and bond over the fact that they are all, in theory, experiencing the same magical day. By placing a controversial attraction in the center of that, the sign at the Magic Kingdom entrance which reads, “Here You Leave Today And Enter The World Of Yesterday, Tomorrow And Fantasy,” no longer feels as applicable considering the fantastical reality is no longer fantasy.

It could be argued that the most recent United States election season is the most aggressive and controversial in recent history, hence the fact that more Disney Parks fans are speaking out about the Hall of Presidents now than in previous election years.

If one thing is certain, it is that Disney does not like political controversy. In fact, if Guests are caught with political propaganda in the parks, they will be removed, and possibly banned. It happened at Disneyland Resort when a Guest rolled out a “Trump” banner on the Mark Twain Riverboat and was banned from the resort. Disney did lift his ban weeks later, but the company takes a clear stance on pushing political values — and that is to not do so on their property.

hall of presidents
Credit: Disney

Then why keep the Hall of Presidents open, when it automatically leads to political discussions? The Orlando Sentinel noted, “The Hall of Presidents, however, has 12 men who owned slaves sharing the stage with Trump. If you’re going to present U.S. history, you can’t skip the awkward spots. And these days, anything slightly political is going to make some guests uncomfortable.”

Therefore, if this is something Disney would rather avoid, the article suggests that the entire ride needs to be removed altogether. The idea of building another attraction that represents America — such as Liberty Square or The American Adventure pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase — and does not divide Guests based on their political views seem to be a strong idea for many fans.

The Orange County Register also noted that the Biden presidency is the perfect opportunity for Disney to reimagine the attraction. The publication expressed that what we see within the attraction is also not a realistic depiction of America.

The article’s writer, Robert Niles, noted, “You think if we put those men in a room together, they would just stand around nodding at one another? No, I want to see the ultimate Presidential debate. Let them argue. And through that argument, let the audience learn something about how America — and the office of the Presidency — has changed over the past 230-plus years, in a way that no textbook can deliver”.

Credit: Disney

Personally, I can understand that point of view. The Hall of Presidents gets updated every four to eight years but is only added to in a basic and conventional way — with a new animatronic of the sitting President. The current President gives a positive political speech to the audience that always seems quite surface level, which does make sense for a theme park that is doing its best to avoid political strife on its grounds but doesn’t actually depict American politics through the ages.

Plus, Orange County Register makes another good point as to why this attraction deserves a reimagining — it doesn’t boast large crowds. It’s a good way to escape Florida heat or tropical storms, but its popularity is not the reason that the Hall of Presidents stays open. Even Tom Weber (@webertom1), the husband of Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, took to Twitter, asking, “But seriously, what is Walt Disney World going to do about the Hall of Presidents?”

Another option that fans have mentioned is to rid the attraction of the Donald Trump animatronic entirely. Jonathan D. Lovitz (@jdlovitz), Senior Vice President at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Remove him from the Hall of Presidents or don’t waste our time.”

Patrick Kling (@PatrickSKling), Creative at Nickelodeon Theme Park Design, also noted:

Every day that goes by that Trump is normalized in the Hall of Presidents is a disgrace to the Walt Disney company.

Spare us your statements and close the Hall of Presidents.

Many Disney fans followed suit with the same thought process to remove Trump from the attraction. I am not going to post all of the Tweets here (we would be reading for days) but below is one recent example from Alia (@ohhhalia):

You know what extremely disappointing? Trump will forever live in the Disney hall of presidents.

On the other hand, there are many supporters of Donald Trump. He boasted over 74 million votes in the 2020 Presidential election and is also a part of United States history, so removing him would pose as a very strong political stance from Disney which could deter many Guests who support the 45th President of the United States.

Hall of presidents
Credit: ITM

Furthermore, if Disney wants to accurately depict American history, it isn’t likely that they will simply remove one President from the Hall of Presidents — it would no longer be an accurate reflection of voters or the Electoral College.

This is an opinion that had been expressed by many Disney fans, even those who have political views that oppose Donald Trump.

ITM reader Christopher said, “But the truth he was elected. Like it or not. Hate him or love him. History is not always pleasant. Learn from history or repeat it. People nowadays are trying to erase history they don’t like or change definitions so it fits the current emotional feelings. Again he was elected and it is the Hall of Presidents. Soo…”

Additionally, ITM reader Film Fan mentioned, “On an attraction called ‘The Hall of Presidents,’ you include all the Presidents, whether you like them or not. You may like or dislike a president, but dismantling an animatronic of one is going to still make people angry. If no one likes to hear this, then don’t go on the attraction. There’s plenty more to do at the theme parks.”

hall of presidents
Credit: Disney

Many have concluded that the idea of reimagining the attraction is probably the best, and most likely, solution if Disney officials do make a change to the attraction.

We previously discussed that Disney could potentially team-up with composer and actor Lin Manuel Miranda on a re-theme. Disney has the perfect opportunity to further collaborate with the Hamilton creator by renovating Liberty Square and the Hall of Presidents.  When Hamilton debuted on Disney+ in July 2020, it received rave reviews. Miranda has also worked with Disney on multiple occasions from Moana to Mary Poppins Returns and more, so a collaboration wouldn’t be too surprising.

Another fan favorite idea has been to replace the Hall of Presidents with a Muppets-themed attraction, with the characters going through American history.

That being said, Disney has noted they are updating the Hall of Presidents to include President Biden, so it seems that a dramatic change is not coming to the attraction in the immediate future. Disney has not issued any official commentary whatsoever regarding a potential reimagining of this Disney World staple.

What do you think Disney should do with the Hall of Presidents? Let us know below! 

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Inside the Magic overall.

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