Walt Disney World
Main Street USA
Hall of Presidents
Walt Disney--The Man
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The Hall of Presidents
The Hall of Presidents is an Audio-Animatronic theater show featuring all 44 United States Presidents. The exterior of the show building is a reduced size replica of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Independence Hall, where the founding fathers met to write the Constitution. The numerals 1787, the year of the Constitutional Convention, are prominently featured high on the outside of the attraction building.
When the attraction opened on the opening day of Magic Kingdom the show featured the then 37 U.S. Presidents including then current President Richard Nixon. With each new president, a new Audio-Animatronic look-alike President is added to the show and given a small speech voiced by the actual president.
In brief the attraction starts with a video and narration that highlights triumphs, struggles and accomplishments of this new Republic. There is a re-enactment of the Philadelphia Convention where George Washington and Benjamin Franklin speak about a new country that will be different from any other. As the presentation continues The United States Constitution is presented as the glue that holds the country together through good and bad times. The shows finale includes a role call of the Presidents where each nods as their name is read, a speech from President Lincoln (very similar to the one given in Disneyland's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln) and a speech from the sitting President.
In 1993, major renovations to the show included different movie elements and new narration (voiced by Maya Angelou) written by Columbia University Professor Eric Foner. The new narration focuses more on ethical and civil issues in the country's history. The original narration was voiced by Disney voice legend Lawerence Dobkin; and small voice parts were done by familiar Disney Company voices. Abraham Lincoln's speech was also rewritten and he now wears a pair of glasses and reads his speech from a piece of paper--a change that many felt did not portray Lincoln properly. The next notable update was in 2001, when George W. Bush took office and a new president was added to the Hall. Also in 2001 the narrator was changed to J.D. Hall, instead of Maya Angelou.
There are several different types or models of Audio-Animatronic figures used in the Hall of Presidents, some models being basic while others are more advanced and capable of more motion and finer motor control. When the new George W. Bush figure was installed he was placed on the Audio-Animatronic skeleton of Bill Clinton because the sitting president figure moves more as it gives a speech than presidents just participating in the roll call.
The Hall of Presidents was closed from October 31, 2008, to July 1, 2009 for audio and visual systems renovation. During this renovation Barak Obama was placed in the show, the narration as re-voiced by Morgan Freeman, and the music for the show's conclusion was changed from Battle Hymn of the Republic to America the Beautiful. In 2011 Battle Hymn of the Republic once again returned to the concluding music spot.
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