A lot of Walt Disney World is dedicated to celebration of the unreal. Whether it's Fantasyland and its fairy tales or Tomorrowland's look at what the future might be. However, one part of Magic Kingdom that is as focused on the modern day as it is on history is Liberty Square's Hall of Presidents. The show, that has been part of Disney World since the resort opened in 1971, contains an audio animatronic representation of every President there has ever been, and when a new President is inaugurated, they join their predecessors on that stage. This week Joseph R. Biden became the newest member of the exclusive club, and the same day he took the oath of office, the Hall of Presidents closed for refurbishment.
Some were surprised to see to see Walt Disney World act quite so quickly, but that's exactly what happened four years ago when Donald Trump took the office. In fact, The Hall of Presidents closed down on January 17, 2017, three days before Trump actually became President, so in this case Disney World actually moved a little slow. Walt Disney World has confirmed that a Joe Biden animatronic is being added to the Hall of Presidents, so the attraction will likely be closed for several months while the new figure is completed.
What's unclear at this point is what else beyond the figure itself will be added. Since 1993, the sitting President hasn't only given his likeness to the Hall of Presidents, but his voice as well. The current President has spoken to the audience through the animatronic, giving the oath of office or giving a speech. One would assume that the Biden animatronic will do the same, though Disney World has yet to actually confirm that. It may be that arrangements to do the recording simply have not been made yet and no announcement will be made until that has been done. If Biden was, for some reason, unwilling or unable to do a recording, Disney likely wouldn't want to announce plans to have Biden speak and then have to go back on that.
However, it's also possible that we could see the Hall of Presidents go through some sort of change as it did back in the early '90s when the President's voice was added. Some have gone as far as to wonder if the Hall of Presidents might be on its way out as an attraction. It's been suggested that perhaps the Muppets be added and it transformed into more of a comedy show. Certainly, in recent years the subject of the U.S. Presidency has become a divisive topic so it's possible the attraction doesn't bring Americans together in the way it once did. There were actually petitions asking Disney not to include Trump when he was elected, or at the very least not to let him speak.
Exactly how long the Hall of Presidents will be closed is unclear. In the past when a new President has taken office the attraction was usually open by the summer. However, when Trump took office, the attraction was closed for nearly all of 2017, only reopening in December. The reason things took so long were never officially revealed. It's possible that just getting the audio recording took time. It was also suggested that the animatronic took longer than expected because Walt Disney Imagineering had actually already begun work on one for Hillary Clinton, and then had to pivot when the election went the other way, but that's never been confirmed.
No attraction remains the same forever, and eventually everything will be replaced. While the Hall of Presidents certainly has symbolic importance, it likely will change or be removed at some point. We'll have to wait and see if that change starts now.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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