Politicians Who Made Disney History: From DeSantis to Trump

in Disney, Entertainment, Featured, Theme Parks, Travel

Gov. DeSantis Image on the left (Gage Skidmore credit) and Donald Trump on the right, Disney Castle in the middle

Credit: Inside the Magic

You’ve heard of Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and President Richard Nixon, but did you know they all share something special? Each of these names are politicians who made Disney history.

And that’s just scratching the surface. Some of the other names might shock you, so buckle up and get ready for a blast from the past.

Politicians who made Disney history
Credit: Inside the Magic

Politicians Who Made Disney History

There’s no shortage of politicians who made Disney history. The iconic brand of Mickey and Minnie Mouse has survived multiple war efforts, economic recession and depression, and even the technological revolution. It only makes sense that politicians use the momentum of this multibillion-dollar company for their benefit.

The only issue is that politics is relative. For every thousand voices approving, there is another thousand espousing hatred. Ultimately, it falls to the population to determine how to interpret the efforts of its policy-makers.

Politicians who made Disney history next to an image of Mickey Mouse
Credit: Inside the Magic

Richard Nixon

Better known as “Tricky Nicky,” back in 1955, Richard Nixon was the Vice President of the United States. When Disneyland opened in California, this politician made Disney history by giving a speech during the opening ceremony. During his speech, Nixon highlighted the virtue of Disney’s impact on American culture. It also promoted the benefits of a Disneyland Theme Park in the state.

Whatever he said was successful because Nixon eventually went to the Oval Office. However, his Disney speech and interactions fell slightly by the wayside with the Watergate scandal. An act not quite in the spirit of Disney values, Nixon was impeached on October 30, 1973.

Michael Dukakis

Not the most prominent name, Michael Dukakis was a Democratic nominee during the 1988 presidential campaign. He released a campaign advertisement entitled “The Mickey Mouse Candidate.” It was a blatant criticism of George H.W. Bush. It essentially suggested the Republican opponent was avoiding essential issues and focusing on trivialities.

Mike Bloomberg

During the 2020 Democratic primaries, the former New York City mayor released an ad campaign featuring Disneyesque characters. The idea was to highlight Bloomberg as a problem-solver and candidate who could beat Donald Trump. We all know how that worked out.

Andrew Yang

2020 was a big year for politicians who made Disney history. Andrew Yang was another Democrat who referred to Disney and its properties during the campaign. Yang compared the algorithm-driven economy to the character of Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. The suggestion was that it was time to reprogram the economy to work for the people.

Politicians who made Disney history next to an image of Mickey Mouse
Credit: Inside the Magic

Politicians Who Made Disney History: Actors Edition

There are plenty of politicians who made Disney history. The sheer number of politicians who started as actors is alarming. So is the count of actors who turned to politics.

Fred Grandy

The interesting case of Fred Grandy is a great way to see just how entwined politics and actors are. Grandy is known for his role as Gopher on the television show The Love Boat. Before this role, he worked as a tour guide at Disneyland. After it, he served as a Republican United States House of Representatives member.

Sonny Bono

Getting famous as a part of the musical pair “Sonny & Cher,” Bono appeared in various Disney productions. Bono was a Hollywood icon from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour to Good Times. The fame led to his becoming the Republican Mayor of Palm Springs in 1988, then his election to the US House of Representatives, where he served from 1995 until his death.

Politicians who made Disney history from their acting time
Credit: Inside the Magic

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Chances are you already know this one, but it’s a real show of how politicians made Disney history and the synergy that demands. Schwarzenegger acted in many Disney movies, ranging from Terminator to Conan the Barbarian to Around the World in 80 Days.

Many recall Schwarzenegger more as a Governor of California from 2003 to 2011. Later, in September 2015, the public learned that  Schwarzenegger would replace Donald Trump on The New Celebrity Apprentice. 

When Trump criticized him in 2017, the former Governor replied, “Hey, Donald, I have a great idea. Why don’t we switch jobs? You take over TV because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job, and then people can finally sleep comfortably again.”

Donald Trump

It would be impossible to list a series of politicians that made Disney history without mentioning the notorious Donald Trump. That’s right, folks. Before becoming the 45th president of the U.S.A., Trump made a name in Hollywood with cameos in The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. 

Other cameos include Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Little Rascals. It might recall some nostalgia, but most remember Trump as a divisive president who did more harm than good. That said, he’s a prominent politician who made Disney history.

Politicians who made Disney history
Credit: Inside the Magic

International Politicians Who Made Disney History

Disney’s a global company, which means it’s not only politicians in the United States who make Disney history. Many use Disney as a campaign feature, reference point, or political stance.

Narendra Modi

A subversive individual, if there ever was one, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is an international politician who made Disney history. Not only is Disney actively participating in the Indian streaming economy, but Modi has referenced Disney features directly.

Back in 2018, Modi referred to Alice in Wonderland. The fact that it was a way to describe the economic reforms the government was setting forth left something to be desired. Modi aimed to show it as a transformative journey, but those who remembered the movie might have felt concerned.

Rodrigo Duterte

The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, an internationally divisive character for his anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes, is another politician who made Disney history. Throughout his reign, he referenced Disney through metaphors. Once, he compared himself to Mickey Mouse, referencing adaptability and resilience. Unfortunately, much of the ideology doesn’t quite align with the Disney we know.

Boris Johnson

Who could forget the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson? A politician who made Disney history, if ever there was one, he made plenty of references when speaking to Brexit. Sadly, it was insulting, referring to aspects of the deal lacking in quality as “Mickey Mouse.” That’s one for the books.

Politicians who made Disney history through wars and beyond
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Politicians Who Made Disney History: War Efforts

Disney’s been around for multiple wars, with the company playing a significant role in propaganda efforts during World War II. Walt Disney brought magic and inspiration to the lives and hearts of millions, and many politicians made Disney history by calling it forth.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Roosevelt applied Disney’s characters as propaganda early in the war effort. In 1942, the president recruited Walt Disney to create a cartoon entitled The New Spirit. The goal was to promote the sale of war bonds. It included Donald Duck and urging citizens to support the war effort. Now that’s a politician who made Disney history.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower was the US president from 1953 to 1961, and during that time, he used characters from Disney for his PR campaign. The focus? Civil defense and Cold War preparation. Disney created the film Duck and Cover in 1951. It used cartoons to demonstrate the “duck and cover” technique, thought to protect against a nuclear attack. The film was used regularly in schools and communities as an awareness campaign.

President Harry S. Truman

Truman served as the US president between 1945 and 1953, and his focus was more on post-war economics. The president used characters from Disney to promote its Fair Deal policies. 1949 saw a film called So Dear to My Heart.

It featured sequences of Disney animation to showcase his support of arts and culture. Truman used these sequences in his campaign, presenting them as an example of his support for the arts and culture.

Politicians who made Disney History
Credit: Inside the Magic

Current Politicians Who Made Disney History

Right now, many Disney politicians are changing Disney’s history. Much of it is controversial, but isn’t any advertising campaign? As we speak, many politicians are actively using the Walt Disney Company.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Easily one of the 2023 forerunners for politicians making Disney history, DeSantis made a political wildfire out of everything from “wokeness” to Reedy Creek. From saying Disney “sexualizes children” to enforcing the “Don’t Say Gay” law, he’s put Disney in the spotlight. One thing that makes it unique? It’s not for a war effort. It’s not using Disney cartoons. DeSantis is actively targeting a theme Park at the heart of the state’s economy.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

Taking it in the other direction, Gavin Newsom openly embraces Pride. As the other southern coastal state with a Disneyland Park, Newsom is seizing the opportunity to make a statement. It’s worth noting that Newsom is a Democrat, reflecting Californian views. During his time in office, he is focused on the DisneylandForward initiative and the $20 million in tax revenue it will bring to the state.

President Joe Biden

The current president of the United States, Biden, is pro-Disney and makes it clear. In a statement, he lashed back at the GOP for its insults to good old Disney and its values. “It’s mean (…) Look at what’s happening in Florida: Christ, they’re going after Mickey Mouse.” Fair enough to say that this politician making Disney history isn’t afraid to speak out.

Mickey Mouse raises his palm to his face, covering up the poor graphic design on a Disney100 advertisement as politicians make Disney history for better or worse
Credit: Inside the Magic

Surviving Politicians That Made Disney History

There is an art to getting past the politicians that made Disney history, which lies in the ability to adapt and grow. It’s easy to say that the Florida debacle is a mark of the apocalypse, but if Duck and Cover taught us anything, life would find a way. And that’s what Disney represents for politicians internationally: inspiration. What constituents make of it is a whole different story.

Can you think of any other politicians who made Disney history? Flex those mental muscles in the comments down below!

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