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Walt Disney World (WDW) News Discuss A Look into the Future for the Hall of Presidents in the News & Rumors forums; This is from the Orlando Sentinel: Renovations to bring Disney World's Hall of Presidents into 21st century Scott Powers Sentinel Staff Writer October 31, 2008 Barack Obama or John McCain ...
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    disneyfanatic101's Avatar
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    Lightbulb A Look into the Future for the Hall of Presidents

    This is from the Orlando Sentinel:

    Renovations to bring Disney World's Hall of Presidents into 21st century

    Scott Powers
    Sentinel Staff Writer
    October 31, 2008


    Barack Obama or John McCain -- here's one more issue for voters to consider: Which one would they rather listen to at Walt Disney World in the Magic Kingdom's Hall of Presidents show?

    One of them will get to address visitors each day in the theme park once the animatronic attraction undergoes a renovation.

    To make room for a new, robotic version of the 44th president of the United States, Disney will close the 37-year-old Hall of Presidents after today for an extended refurbishment. The show will stay shuttered for more than eight months so Disney can update the hall's aging light, sound, mechanical, projection and show systems, just as the company has done in recent years with other "classic" Magic Kingdom attractions such as It's A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.

    "We're about to get a new president. And so, since we have to shut down the show anyway to welcome No. 44, we're going to take the opportunity to . . . refurbish the attractions and the facility and also kind of wave the magic wand around a little bit," said Pam Fisher, senior show writer for Walt Disney Imagineering.


    Updating a '70s show

    First envisioned by Walt Disney in the early 1960s, the show premiered when the Magic Kingdom opened Oct. 1, 1971. In an auditorium, visitors view a 10-minute, panoramic film of American history. The film projects, onto five screens, narrated images of paintings produced by Disney artists in the styles of American masters, from John Trumbull to Norman Rockwell. When the film ends and the screens rise, people see a large stage where life-size, robotic figures of every U.S. president are grouped, standing or sitting, for a roll call and a couple of speeches.

    The show has always featured a speech by the Lincoln figure. In the 1990s, Disney began adding a second speech by the current president. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush recorded their addresses, and Disney hopes to entice the next president to do the same.

    "We'll do everything in our power to make it so," Fisher said. "We've been really lucky so far. It is quite an experience to arrive in the White House and actually be present when the president records his speech for the Hall of Presidents."

    When the show reopens next year July 4, a third figure, George Washington, will also be given a speaking part.

    Like many Disney theme-park attractions dating from the 1950s through the early '70s, the Hall of Presidents' artwork was created by renowned Disney artists such as Herb Ryman, Sam McKim and John DeCuir. The 70mm film projectors will be replaced with digital-video projection systems, which should give the presentation fresh boldness and clarity, Fisher said.

    All of the presidents' faces were sculpted by Disney artist Blaine Gibson. But he's 90 years old and, though he remains involved, he is handing off the job of sculpting the 44th president to prot�g� Valerie Edwards.


    Better view of presidents

    The attraction's technology upgrades should improve the view of Gibson's (and Edwards') work as well. As the narrator introduces each president, a spotlight shines briefly on that figure, which waves or nods. But the presidents are randomly arranged, the introductions pass quickly, and the spotlights flit about, so some viewers have a hard time following the progression. With LED lighting, 21st-century controls and a longer spotlight for each president, it should become easier for the audience to tell John Tyler from James K. Polk.

    "That is my No. 1 dream and hope of the show: to make the introduction of the presidents easier to follow," Fisher said. "We think that's really the highlight of the show."


    Scott Powers can be reached at spowers@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5441.
    Adam ~ A Proud D23 Charter Member!

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    WOW! I'm so excited for this refurb now. I love that they are finally going to use some of today's technology to spiff it up a bit. I must admit the film is starting to look a bit grainy and the spotlight thing is so true! I also love the addition of a speech from George Washington.

    Let's be honest, most people come to be amazed by the huge stage full of audioanimatronic presidents and today, that piece is ultimately fairly short. I just hope they don't completely change the opening "movie" because it is simply so powerful, especially presented on the large "wrap around" screens (which it seems they are planning to keep).

    All in all... change, as seems to be the theme of this year's election, in this case is good.
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    Sounds like it has potential to be a good refurb. I may actually go see it for the first time in over 10 years
    ~Ashleigh









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    I had a hard time following the lighting when I saw it recently. I'm looking forward to seeing it after the refurb. HM turned out spectacular so maybe the old Disney magic will be sprinkled here as well.
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    I absolutely love the HoP and I'm glad they are giving it some much needed TLC! I will be sad to miss it in December, but oh SO HAPPY that they next time we see it I will not have to listen to George Bush speak (and I use that term very loosely!)!!!!

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    " it should become easier for the audience to tell John Tyler from James K. Polk. "

    cuz who cant do that... sheesh
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    elvistelth is offline Unfortunately, this user's actions have resulted in him/her being BANNED from the site
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    I think they should make two Grover Clevelands because technically he is the 22nd & 24th presidents.

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    Yes, the movie needs to be updated as I have always thought it was a waste of such a big screen to tell the story of the USA with still pictures for the most part. Something on the scale of Over America in HD would be ideal. I could also do without the current President having a speech, or Abraham Lincoln for that matter. I like the idea of George Washington having a speech as the Father of the Country, but I would have him introduce the other Presidents. Just my 2 cents.
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    some of your comments folks crack me up. I'll be sad to miss it in May. It's one of my favorite shows. I hope they add more artifacts to the mini museum in the lobby. I'm sick of Clinton's saxophone.
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    Ha! I can't wait for this! xP Obviously the Presidents is an older ride and this refurb is much needed and I'm excited to see how this improves the quality of the attraction~ I love the hall of presidents now that I'm a bit older, and more into history and politics~ I so look foreward to seeing McCain or Obama (hopefully Obama, in my opinion) in the Hall of Presidents xD That would be such an awesome thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfanatic101 View Post
    This is from the Orlando Sentinel:
    But the presidents are randomly arranged, the introductions pass quickly, and the spotlights flit about, so some viewers have a hard time following the progression. With LED lighting, 21st-century controls and a longer spotlight for each president, it should become easier for the audience to tell John Tyler from James K. Polk.
    I agree that this will be a good addition. I've seen the show many times and I still have a hard time following the introductions.
    I personally am glad that Disney still has some attractions that talk about history and innovation - not just zoom zoom thrills and animated characters. While that is fun too, it is great that there is a place for history and patriotism.
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