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WDW Radio # 683 – 10 Ways The Disney Parks Have Celebrated America

Walt Disney’s love of America immediately made its way into the Disney parks, originating in Disneyland from the very beginning, and continuing to Walt Disney World and all of the parks around the world, and this week’s we’ll look at ten of the many ways the Disney Parks have celebrated America.

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Sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode of the WDW Radio show. Thanks for listening! Be sure to tune in next week!

Thanks to Kendall Foreman for joining me this week. See Kendall’s posts on the WDW Radio blog and her other appearances on the show HERE

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Click Here Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello: [00:00:00] I love America. My family loves America. My dad loved this country and Walt Disney did as well. And because this week America is celebrating its independence on July 4th and much like Walt Disney. I love America and all that it stands for and represents. We, we thought about Disney, not just the man, but the parks and their connections to this country.

And look Walt's life and legacy is the fulfillment of the American dream. Right. He drew up in that. He grew up in that small American town. He drew patriotic cartoons. He served his country in world war. I. By lying about his age, but, throughout his entire life, it really was where that fulfillment of American dream and, and Walt always felt that America was very, very important to him.

He believed in this country, the people and its future and the way of life. And even there's been many times on the WW radio show and on the blog, we've talked about Walt in his connection to America, including top 10, Walt Disney quotes on America, which I will link to in the show notes, but Walt's love of America also made its way.

Into the Disney parks starting in Disneyland from the very beginning when Walt said that Disneyland would be a world of Americans past and present seen through the eyes of Miami imagination, a place of warmth and nostalgia of illusion and color and delight. And so this week we're gonna look at 10 ways that Disney parks have celebrated America.

And joining me once again is Kendall foreman. You may remember her most recently from shows such as the hidden history of Fort wilderness adventure house and Sadie Mays tomorrow, land past present, and future unrealized, Walt Disney world attractions of the Disney decade and many, many more. She's also been a prolific writer on the w w R D O blog and editor for many years.

And this was her idea for the show. So Kendall, thank you. And [00:02:00] welcome back.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah, I'm glad to be back. And interestingly enough, this idea kind of came to me one day. I was watching one of the older features on Disney plus and in my recommendations popped up the Liberty story, which I had seen on there many times, the heading for it, but I had never watched it.

And I sat down and watched that recently. And it just brought to mind how many times and ways the Disney parks, both in Florida, California, and even in some international cases have celebrated America.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. And you originally said, yeah, let's talk about 10 ways. Disney has celebrated America. And I started to sort of brain dump ideas and I'm like, no, no, no.

There's like so many more ways we need to cover them all. And I got to about 26 or so before I realized that you were correct. And I think picking 10 of our favorite or most important or impactful ways would be best, although we'll be sure to mention some or all the others we found and remembered, cuz you're right.

It is present, not just in the big and small screen and in television and movies, but there's a variety of ways that America has been present and represented and honored in the parks, whether it be by attractions and parades and exhibits and shows. Um, and, and one thing that was interesting, I think to sort of note too, is that.

You know, as, as America has evolved, um, the presence in the parks and the representation in the parks. So I think the Disney parks have evolved as well to become more culturally aware and sensitive. And while you might not necessarily agree with all of the changes, you have to applaud the ability by Disney to adapt, to changing times and, uh, changing America.

Um, whether it's, I mean, look, even things as, as simple as, you know, think [00:04:00] back to the fifties and sixties, when everybody smoked everywhere, not just in the Disney parks, but like on planes and in hospitals. And then it was confined to smaller areas and eventually banned, but even. The naming conventions, right?

Disneyland, the Indian war canoes were renamed the Davey Crockett Explorer, canoes, other names of attractions, or even attractions themselves have been removed, um, guns in the parks, uh, forget an attractions, but the sale of, of fake guns in the parks has been removed. And then we're also seeing the re theming and updating of attractions like pirates and the jungle crews and splash mountain.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah. And I think too, especially even going back to that, the Liberty story, if you are, are much of a history buff at all, and you watch that, that compilation it, it's not exactly accurate. . I mean, the Ben and me cartoon, you know, it, it alludes to the idea that this little mouse has, was actually behind most of Benjamin Franklin's inventions.

It's just meant to be kind of a fun introduction for kids to American history. But I think that's a good example of, you know, you started out. With a lot of cases where Disney wanted to honor America and, and then they move into more of a, a more accurate representation, a more truthful, a more authentic representation of American history and of America today.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. So let's get right into your list. Um, this was your idea. You are my guest, and I still believe in ladies first, and I'm incredibly curious to see how you were able to, to pair this, what I ended up finding out to be incredibly long list of times and places America's been honored. Um, so please go first.

Kendall Foreman: I'm gonna take us back to 1986 and again, American history bus might be thinking what significant happened in 1986, but if you know, Disney and the Disney parks, you [00:06:00] know, that they like to extend their celebrations as long as possible. So. In 1986, Disney decided to kick off the 200th anniversary celebration of the constitution, which the constitutional convention was held in 1787.

And wasn't ratified until 1788, but they decided to start the celebration in 86 so that they could have that coincide with the 15th anniversary of Walt Disney world. And there actually was an anniversary TV special, which lasts about an hour and a half hosted by Betty White and, uh, B Arthur. It is a great special if you wanna watch the whole hour and a half, it is still fun to watch today, but there's a segment about halfway through that specifically was dedicated to this constitutional celebration that they were kicking off and it featured narration from Charleston Heston.

It takes place in the town square of magic kingdom. There were flag bears. There was a large choir. There was a, um, a, a choir in authentic colonial garb up on the second story of the train station. It's just incredibly patriotic. I encourage anyone. If you're looking for something to watch on July 4th, this year, this will put you in the mood.

Um, it also had appearances from chief justice, Warren Berger, who was the, the head of the constitutional celebration commission. He had, uh, taped remarks, Senator Edward Kennedy, and also president Reagan at the time had taped a segment that they showed. And then the whole celebration is kind of finished off with Ray Charles playing there in that central part of the town square.

Even that just wasn't what it was limited to. They had, um, the spirit of America parade that kicked off shortly thereafter, which was at that time, I believe the biggest parade that they had created [00:08:00] and it included some fantastic floats that represented America from the east to the west coast, with, um, a lighthouse and, uh, a farm segment, a giant paddlewheel Steamboat, a gold mine, national parks, observation tower, and then ending up in California with Winnie the poo and Tigger and everybody, um, surfing.

And then one of the other memorable parts that came with this celebration was bicentennial Ben. And it wasn't B Centennial, B I C E N. Bicentennial. Bison like the animal, a walk around character and he wore a tricorn hat and he was made to look like Ben Franklin. And, um, he was created for this whole celebration by Disney, but created kind of for the whole, um, Nationwide celebration.

And he actually was a walk around character that you could meet.

Lou Mongello: I have never heard of that. And now I need to Google and try and find what it looked like.

Kendall Foreman: Actually, I, I reached the end of Google, you know, every time every now and then you will Google something and there will only be so many photos. And it'll tell you, like, at the end, like this is it.

You know, we have no more, this that happened with bicentennial, Ben, there's only about three or four photos out there of him.

Lou Mongello: Nice. If you have a picture of bicentennial Ben, from your visit to the parks, um, send it to us. If it's not one that you got from Google, send it to me and I will send it to Kendall.

And I will send you some sort of congratulatory prize in appreciation because you beat the end of Google. Um, for me, Kendall, I went less specific and granular and a little bit more wider and broader stroke. And, and I, I know. I'm choosing an obvious one here, but it was the first one that came to mind and it was while it's common knowledge.

Now, like when I discovered it going from, you know, three year old kid who was a fan in [00:10:00] 1971, and as my fandom grew the journey from Liberty square to frontier land and that telling of the American story and growth and expansion and journey in three dimensional format is remains incredibly fascinating to me.

And, and I'm not gonna go too far into it. And this is not meant to be a shameless plug, cuz you can find 'em on Spotify, but if you go listen to my audio tour, Of Liberty square and then frontier land. I really take you on a very detailed explanation of the journey sort of step by step, literally through both lands.

But it, it does. I like the fact that it also goes back to Walt, right? And, and I love the fact that Liberty square is unique to Walt Disney world. It there's no other Liberty square anywhere else because people in China and Japan just don't understand what a Liberty square would be. But Liberty square itself was the fulfillment of one of Walt's fondest personal dreams at that extension of his patriotism.

What he wanted, uh, Liberty street to be in Disneyland. And he, he talked, you know, when he talked about Disneyland, he said, look, there's, there's an American theme behind this whole park. And I believe in emphasizing the story of what made America great and is gonna keep it great. And, and, and he went on when he was talking about frontier land, specifically in Disneyland, he says, all of us have calls to be proud of our country's history.

And here you can return to frontier America from the revolutionary war era to the final TA of the great Southwest and that journey that you take as you come from fantasy land and come from the old world, literally. Across time and the Atlantic into colonial America and sort of make your way from the Hudson river valley down through Liberty square, across the Mississippi river [00:12:00] and out to the west and all of the individual elements that help tell that story, whether it's the replica of the Liberty bell, the, the voice of mark Twain on the riverboat, the Liberty tree, like I learned so much about real American history.

Researching the audio tours than I did in school, which is not a conviction of the educational process. It's more of a Testament to the accuracy and the detail in Liberty square. And in frontier land, it remains one of my favorite places in the parks, not for the attractions, but for the land itself and the storytelling and the real American history that is presented there.

I think it is one of the best educational opportunities in all of Wal digital. And I think we did a show about top 10 educational opportunities. This is where I think some of the best ones reside.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah. I have to agree. I mean, some of those buildings that are literal representations of actual. you know, buildings from colonial America or, or buildings that, you know, still stand today, or even just the small, tiny details, like, you know, the, the Thomas Jefferson serpentine wall, or, you know, the, the sagging shutters or, you know, the lanterns in the window just there's so much to be found there that it creates like, like you mentioned, uh, an opportunity for learning more about our history.

Lou Mongello: And if you go back to show 1 92, that is the top 10 educational opportunities in Walt Disney a world.

Kendall Foreman: Well, for my next one, I will eventually get to, you know, P. Things in the parks, but I have to go to an another, this was just a one day event, but it it's so surprising. I think there's a lot of people that don't know this [00:14:00] ever happened, but it's such a significant thing in Walt Disney world history and also American history that Epcot played host to the only time that an inauguration parade was held outside of Washington DC.

Um, president Reagan, when he was elected to his second term, when they were supposed to have the inauguration in DC, it was actually negative 20 out that day. Uh, they had invited 50 marching bands to come play and clearly negative 20 is, and snow is much too cold for that. So they canceled the parade that day.

And, um, Michael Eisner was kind of looking for a way to boost attendance at Epcot to bring some. Some recognition to that park. It had been open for three years and he, you know, got a hold of the white house and said, Hey, we, we would love to hold a postponed parade on Memorial day in Epcot. And they contacted as many of those, those bands from all over the country.

And it turned out there were 18 of them that were able to come and you can, this actually was an hour and a half long, special that aired, uh, on TV. And you can find that on YouTube. It's very interesting to watch, uh, president Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan flew in by helicopter and landed behind the American adventure.

And then they came out and they did a motorcade that circled the entirety of the world. Showcase promenade, came back to the American adventure. And this was before the American gardens theater had the, the roof over it. And so there was a viewing platform there. For Reagan and for Michael Eisner and a couple other, you know, secret service members and things to sit in.

And they wa they sat there and watched us all those different bands, got to come by and play for the president. And, and then the president gave some remarks also. And so this is just very interesting is just [00:16:00] a, a moment in time, um, to go back and watch it today to see, you know, um, the, the president that time to see the American patriotism at that time, they estimated that there was like 60,000 people in the park that day.

And most of them had no idea that this was going to even happen. Um, actually one of our writers on the blog Kathy, several years ago, she was there that day and she recalled how, when they got to the park, they had no idea. And, and they even didn't really know until there was a, a PA system announcement that the president was gonna be showing up and, and she recalled.

And if you watch the video, you can see one of the bands actually was from Holland, Michigan, and they marched in wooden shoes. And this band still does this today, but that's a really cool moment to see too. And I think that's what just makes it a great celebration of America as well, that, that Disney invited all of these different bands to come in.

And you just see so many different people from across the country and just, they, they had fireworks, they had F 16 fighter jets that flew over just very patriotic moment.

Lou Mongello: You to, I love that for so many reasons, right? Because number one, that's a deep cut, right? That's, that's one that probably a lot of people never thought of or imagine.

And I think two, it's significant the idea of a sitting us president coming to, you know, a theme park it's coming to Walt Disney world for such a, a. Momentous celebratory occasion. And it it's funny when you said that it got me thinking and forgive me if I steal that's on your list. Cause I don't mean it to be, I tried to think about other times that a president was actually in the park and I remembered back to January of 2012 when president Obama came and gave a speech in magic kingdom, like on main street USA with Cinderella castle, right behind him.

And what an [00:18:00] opportunity that was to have a president, you know, a sitting president be in the parks to either celebrate something or to, to give us like in the Obama case to give a speech. I am glad to be a Disney world.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah, definitely. And I, I actually, I think, um, George HW Bush also gave a speech at one point in time.

Um, I think it was when he was president might have been when he was vice president, but yeah, it's just, yeah, very interesting to think about having that experience of seeing the president in a theme park. Oh, and another interesting thing that happened that day, too, just, uh, as a Disney side note, this was the first time that Mickey appeared in.

Upcot really, because up to that point in, yeah, up to that point in time, I mean, we all know, like they wanted Epcot to be character free and, and on that special, you could hear them mention that, that Mickey's there in kind of an uncle Sam type get up. And that was his first appearance there. He met, he met Nancy Reagan and, and led her into the viewing platform.

Lou Mongello: I love that. Uh, that's an, that is an amazing trivia question right there. Of course. There's one other time that there was a president in Walt Disney world, but we are not going to focus on Nixon's. I am not a crook speech at the contemporary resort. Um, for me, Kendall, I went to something that is, is.

Remains here. Uh, I think is one of the most significant yet overlooked experiences that everybody should attend at least one time. Um, the flag retreat, which has been part of Walt Disney world since day one is such. I think such a significant gesture, uh, every day at five o'clock, even while COVID was going on, right.

This was still being done every day, while COVID was going on. There is a retreat ceremony for the flag where the [00:20:00] pledge of allegiance is given. There was a trumpet fair, uh, fanfare. And the spar, the star Spangled banner plays as the American flag is lower. This, this retiring of the colors ceremony as it's being taken down for the day, uh, takes place with, you know, members of cast members from Walt Disney world.

But there's also a veteran. That is selected by cast members at the magic kingdom each day to take part in that ceremony. And they have the honor of carrying the flag, a short distance down main street USA, and this tribute to this country and more important, the gratitude it shows to veterans for their service.

And, and I think they deserve all of the applause and thanks and recognition we can give, um, for the services and the sacrifice that they and their families make in protecting our country is incredibly important. Um, and if you've never seen it, uh, whether you are from America or not, I think it's important to at least watch, um, every least watch once.

And again, it takes place every day. And, um, at back on show 1 0 8, we talked about Walt Disney world from a military perspective and a friend of mine came on, who is a veteran to talk about veterans, uh, mil from. Veterans and, uh, active service people in the parks and, and the ways that they can enjoy the parks and even some special things that are afforded and available to them.

And we talk a lot about that flag retreat ceremony. So I invite you to please go back and take a listen to show 1 0 8.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah. The flag retreat definite most definitely made my shortlist just because it's that whole aspect again, of a celebration of not just the, like the symbolism idea of America or the government of America, but it really does end up being a celebration of everyday Americans.

[00:22:00] Like you mentioned, you know, every day there's a new veteran who's honored there. And I, I love that it continues to this day. Um, for my next one, I'm gonna go with the big elephant in the room and that is the American adventure complex. And I will try not to take down like five things at once here, but you most definitely could just, I mean, just the building itself, um, is, is a tribute to America.

Um, if you read the, uh, imaginary field guide for Epcot, they specifically know how that whole building is red, white, and blue. Like there's the red BS of the building, the red promenade, the, the white columns, the white trim, the blue fountain, the blue sky backdrop. And it's just such a, such a subtle thing.

But was so intentional and then you move inside and you have the rotunda with the voices of Liberty. You have the paintings that we discussed back on show 6 46. When we talked about the top 10 art pieces, you have the American heritage gallery that's there. And I'm trying not to go into detail with these in case they're on your list.

Um, the, the hall of flags leading to the show, but ultimately this fantastic show that I love, because it, you, you don't wanna get too harsh with a show in a theme park, but I feel like the American adventure shows both our strengths and our weaknesses. It shows some of our lowest times it shows some of our peaks.

It shows overcoming. I think that it does. A great job of offering up who we are as Americans to international guests. It, I mean, I defy you to not get teary eyed as you watch that finale. And I, it it's just so moving, even just from the simplest scenes, like my favorite scene in the whole [00:24:00] show. Well, actually let me back up for just a second.

The, I, if you read that imaginary field guide, they also mention something in there that I think is. It was really important in the development of that show. And it said, it said whenever possible, the story's told from the perspective of the common man, and then originally they were gonna have George Washington delivering an inspirational address to the troops on atop his horse.

But now what we see is him sitting atop his horse while these two, every day to everyday soldiers have this conversation. And that's what you see time and time again. And that's where I was gonna go with. My favorite scene in the show is the great depression scene and just these common people sitting on that porch.

And it's, it makes me think every time of one of my, to me, one of the most impressive pieces of literature I've read, which is the grapes of wrath, that scene is like grapes of wrath brought to life. And I recently found out that's actually based on a photo by Dorothea Lang. Who, um, was famous photographer from the great depression she's if you know, most people would recognize the migrant mother photo from the great depression.

She also took the, the photo called crossroads general store. Um, and it was taken in North Carolina in 1939. And I encourage listeners go, you know, go look up the photo. You will see that, uh, you know, immediately that that's the inspiration for that scene, but just, I, I feel like that show is just such the epitome of America.

Lou Mongello: Very high on my list. It, it, it was number two behind that, that movement from Liberty square through. Frontier land and you echoed everything that, that I had as some of the reasons. And I love, and I agree with you a thousand percent, that it's a very moving tribute to not just the best parts of America like wart and all this is who we are.

Right. And it is such an incredible example of our patriotism. And while it is [00:26:00] this celebration of her people and all that, it has that, that all that they have accomplished. It does also shine a light on some of the parts of American history, which are not shining of examples of us being at our best. We are human individual and collectively, and I also love just, you know, you mentioned some of the choices that were made by a match earring in terms of design and placement, right.

They, they wanted to, to make sure this building did not look. Governmental or official, they wanted it to be approachable, which is why they used a sort of English, Georgian architecture for the facade. Even the placement of it. It was originally supposed to be, as you went from future world to world showcase, it was going to be right there front and center.

The decision was no, let's put it yes. Directly across the lagoon. So you can see it. It's one of the first countries that you see, but this really is a salute to all nations, including America, not mostly America. I love, you know, we can almost do a top 10 ways. America is celebrated inside the four corners of this building.

But one of the things that I love are those spirits of America statues that I think sometimes get overlooked because you don't normally wander through the theater. But if you look, there are 12 life size statues on either side of the theater. That represent things like individualism, independence, compassion, discovery, freedom, heritage self-reliance.

And there's one, there's a cowboy that represents that spirit of individualism, which is on the, the closest to the stage on the left hand side of, um, the theater. And it is, like I said, it's, it's, it's a celebratory journey. Um, not just about how far we've come, but how far we can go. And if you go back to [00:28:00] show 22, um, we did a very, very deep dive, an American adventure DSI Disney scene investigation back on show 22, all about the history and where it is, and maybe what the future holds for the attraction as well.

And by the way, I love, love, love golden dreams. I love that song so very much.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah, definitely. That's yeah, that's that, that's one of the, like the, one of the most played songs on. On my iPhone. I think

Lou Mongello: what's

Kendall Foreman: next for you. I think you're, I think you're up. Oh, oh yeah. That was so that one was mine. Oh, that's

Lou Mongello: good. So I got to talk a little bit about it without actually taking away. I'm going to all right. I'm going to, um, I'm going to talk about America by leaving America. And Ken was like, what are you talking about?

I'm going to the American waterfront in Tokyo, Disney sea. Um, uh, again, I won't go too deep into this. We do a full recap of our trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Disney sea back on show 5 0 3, but in Tokyo Disney sea, one of the lands, there is the American waterfront, which is huge. It's it's, it's almost half the size of all of Disney sea and it is this.

Idealized snapshot of America at the turn of the 20th century, where you can travel in vehicles from the early 19 hundreds. There's the tower of Terra hotel from the 19 twelves from, from 1912. But you get this representation of what New York and what the, the seaside village of Cape Cod looked like in, in this sort of twist on main street USA.

This idealized way that Americans and [00:30:00] history would like to remember it, right? This, this New York city, this bustling city in the early 1910s, that wonderful, elevated railway, the classic theater, the Harbor, the SS Columbia, there's a, a huge, um, backstory that's created about Harrison high tower. And his obviously connection to the tower hotel.

There's a number of different attractions there as well. There's a Cape Cod area. There's a Teddy Roosevelt lounge in the Columbia. Um, even just some of the shops. Like I, one thing I noticed when I was there too, like, there's a MCD Duck's department store with, which is this big, beautiful opulent, you know, sort of department store like thing.

And then right next to it is this little sign, like for MCD Duck's pawn shop. And it shows sort of the two different sides of New York at that time, you know, the very rich, and then those who were just coming over trying to sort of make their way it's beautiful. It's, imaculately clean, clean as all of Tokyo Disney see is, uh, and it's absolutely spectacular.

And this is where I start thinking that I wanna new do another group trip out to Tokyo Disney sea. But again, if you go back to show 5 0 3, we talk about this and all of Tokyo Disney sea in a lot greater detail, but the American waterfront and that sort of main street USA like representation of the Northeast part of the country in the early 19 hundreds is absolutely spectacular.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah, in prep for this. And you mentioned that as we were going back and forth, um, and it, it hadn't really crossed my mind until you said something. And I've seen pictures over the years of various parts of the American waterfront, but I actually decided to dive in and watch a walkthrough video of that.

And I, I was like you say, I was astounded by the size of that area and just the scale of so much of what is there. [00:32:00] And, but I just have to say, how is it that Tokyo gets a New York deli and we couldn't have one on the streets of America.

Lou Mongello: listen. There's a lot of things from Tokyo Disney. See, I wish that we could pick up and port over here, but you know, like Disneyland and Walter, it gives us a reason to want to go.

Kendall Foreman: Well for my next one, I'm trying to decide what things I hope you're going to pick. I'm having a hard time choosing between a couple here. Um, I think I'm gonna go with something very kind of small and unassuming that is, was just impactful for me. Um, obviously this attraction as a whole deserves to be on this list and maybe you're going to, to touch on it, but I wanna go specifically into the waiting area of the hall of presidents and the exhibits that they have on display there.

Um, my sister, actually, she studied history in college. And so this is something that was big for her. And I, for me to share this with her whenever, when the last time that we were there, um, getting to see all of the artifacts that they have on display from the American presidents, and there're constantly rotating.

Uh, what's in there there's items from the presidents and also dresses from the first various dresses that the first ladies wore to inaugurations and other events. But, uh, over the years there's been things like George Washington's, coffee, cup and sauce, or Woodrow Wilson's golf club, or, you know, John Adams, family seal and coat buttons just.

Small things like that, but to stand there and consider that these are real things, these people held these, you know, the, the first president of our country drank out of that cup, like it, and that sounds like such a funny thing to say, cuz who, you know, who wants my [00:34:00] cup, but it it's just amazing pieces of history sitting there.

And, and I just have to give a shout out to, to my favorite piece that they have. I'm not sure if it's still on display now or not, but the last time I was there, it was was James a Garfield's clock tower calendar. And it's just this little wooden clock that, um, the date that it shows on it is July 2nd, 1881.

And, and in the plaque that's with, it says that every day when he would arrive to the office, he would wind this up and set it to the correct date. But, um, on July 2nd, he. Had done that in the morning, he left for the train station where he ultimately was shot and he never returned to the office. So that clock has.

For, you know, almost 150 years on that same date. And so that's just a, a really interesting piece of history. And I think, you know, obviously you can go to places like the Smithsonian and see things like this, but it's not something that you expect to walk into magic kingdom park and see. And I think that's, what's so cool too, is it makes American history very accessible for, for children, for, you know, foreign visitors to see these, you know, items of our history and hopefully spurs, maybe, you know, kids to get interested in studying

Lou Mongello: more.

Now I love that. That's a great pull and I think so many people oftentimes don't look around in some of those waiting areas and see some of the, the true treasure troves of American history. And look, I, I think, I think it, it bears, I think the hall of president itself bears mentioning, I wanna qualify this by saying.

I mean, I wanna say I am the least political person, like on the planet. I, I really am like, I don't get involved in the, and it's a shame that over the last number of years, the hall of presidents, unfortunately I know it's political by definition, but it wasn't always, and it's [00:36:00] become so politicized and, and the cause of stress and anger and upsetness and all of this, this very passionate feelings that we as Americans have for a variety of different reasons.

And I think the show gets lost sometimes because of political feelings before you even walk in the door, as opposed to looking at the story that's being told the recognition of. The many, many, many presidents, you know, that came early on in America's history that helped shape the foundation of this country.

And I think it's a shame that, that I think a lot of people have, um, bypassed it or chosen not to go for whatever reason. Look remember when Amer when the attraction first opened, it was an E ticket attraction. Like it was right up there with 20,000 leagues and space mountain. And again, you know, when Walters world opened.

1971, there was a lot of that excitement. I'm sure we'll talk about it more than once of the upcoming bicentennial. And there was this incredible sense of patriotism in the country, and that is why the attraction was so popular. It was so popular. How popular was it? Lou? It was so popular that if you go by that marketplace, stand outside the hall of presidents, there's that covered walkway in between that covered walkway was built as a covered queue because the lines were ha for hall of presidents were hours long and it was built to accommodate.

So people weren't standing out in the sun. Um, my hope one day is that people allow themselves to go back in. And even if you don't wanna think about, you know, recent history, you go back and allow yourself to really take advantage of not just what is in the lobby, but what is in the show itself.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah, definitely.

I, I agree with you that. It is such a [00:38:00] spectacular show. And my favorite version of the script for that show was actually during the, the Barack Obama era, not specifically for his speech, but for the, the rest of that script was fantastic. It just really getting across how this the American president comes from the American people.

At the end of the day, this is just a man or someday a woman who was one of us and is given this incredibly difficult job. And there were very poignant moments in that script with Abraham Lincoln and with Teddy Roosevelt and, and others. And I, I agree too. I hope that that people can return to that show and, and take the time.

I mean, I know right now, Joe Biden's portion, he just recites the oath of office, but even, you know, the ones prior Disney did a fantastic job. If you really just stop and listen to the words that are being said of, of writing speeches, that. Were were applicable. And for no matter which side of the aisle you land on, I mean, they, they did a really, in my opinion, a really good job of just discussing things that are truths of America.

Lou Mongello: Oh, I agree. Um, I think it's back to me. Yes. So there's a late entry on my list, which is so ridiculously obvious. I was beating myself up this morning. I'm like you idiot. How did you? Not because something came to mind and it started snowballing. And once again, I know that I'm stating the obvious, but sometimes you need to look at it from, by stepping back and from a 30,000 foot view and specifically here in Walt Disney world.

And then as I started thinking even more in many of the resorts in many of the, the parks around the country, The resorts themselves are wonderful representations and opportunities to learn and listen and taste and appreciate [00:40:00] what the different areas of this incredibly wide and diverse country are.

The resorts of Walt Disney world. Take us to so many of the different places and the different cultures, the different architecture, et cetera, that this country has to offer. Old key west, the Polynesian grand Floridian, Coronado, even the history of America in with pop century, the Orleans resorts, Fort wilderness and the lodge yacht and beach.

The American people forget that the American Southwest and that grand canyon Concourse was the theme. And to really sort of remains the theme of Disney's contemporary resort, Atlantic city at the boardwalk Saratoga Springs, trio villas, even the all star resorts, celebrate American movies and music and sports.

And then around the world. I love the fact that. For guests from other countries who may not be able to come here, they can in Hong Kong experience, the explorers lodge and the Hollywood hotel in Paris. There's the Disney hotel, New York Sequoia lodge hotel, Cheyenne, the Newport bay club, this hotel, Santa Fe, even in Tokyo, the Tokyo celebration hotel.

And in, in Disneyland, the grand Californian, they all take a piece of America and they represent it in this place that you get to live for a short period of time and play and eat. And I love being able to understand and learn a little bit more about places that we might not get to visit otherwise, or maybe inspire us to actually go get in the family trucks store or get on a plane and go and visit in the future.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah. I love that. That's a great pool. Um, yeah. And, and, and so many of 'em even have. Literal historical items or cultural items, you know, like you [00:42:00] mentioned like wilderness lodge, you know, has several things like that. That

Lou Mongello: a lot of native, that's a great native American artifacts and things like that there as well.

Mm-hmm

Kendall Foreman: okay. So, um,

Hmm. I, I'm gonna go with the, the, another celebration. The bicentennial celebration in 1975 took place on both, both coasts and there was this specific celebration. Um, and then there were also some smaller things that this kind of ushered in as well. Um, but the biggest part of the bicentennial celebration was America on parade.

and I kind of got a little more interested in America on parade whenever we did our last show together on the, you know, the Fort wilderness fun house in Sadie may and I, and, um, just a little self-promotion plug tomorrow on the w DW radio blog. I have a big piece coming out, um, on the history of Sadie Mae, which involves America and parade.

And I actually had the opportunity to interview, um, or, you know, work back and forth with a gentleman who his grandfather was the, the original owner of Sadie Mae. And so that'll be a really interesting read just as far as some American history and things, but. Outside of that, the America parade, the, the soundtrack of that was recorded on Sadie Mae.

It included, you know, classic American songs, you know, Yankee, doodle battle, hem of the Republic. Take me out to the ball game, you know, Turkey in the straw. And, um, I think this, it just bears mentioning this parade too, because it is the one where you get the, the eight foot people of America with the giant heads.

And, um, that eventually gave birth to the people of the world that were the walk around [00:44:00] characters in Epcot. And this, this parade, you know, kinda like what we mentioned with the American adventure, it, it shows some high points and it shows some, some low points because you. You know, some very crazy floats at times.

One of 'em is, is a, a Pilgrim girl being disciplined in a, in a dunk I think they called it like a dunk seat or something like that, but, um, that's just a very strange parade float, but then there's also, you know, there's, there's Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross, and, you know, the completion of the transcontinental railroad, um, just lots of memorable moments, lots of very, you know, classically American things like baseball and, and then the, the iconic, giant, however many stories, tall sandwich that everyone sees from that was part of the Sunday picnic in the park section of the parade.

and, uh, with the, the bicentennial celebration in 76, they also did a TV special that red skeleton was featured on and just featured a lot of parts of, of Disneyland and, and Walt Disney world. And a lot of it has a really, um, a neat segment with red skeleton explaining word by word to a group of children, the pledge of allegiance and what all of that means.

And, and then as I mentioned, this, the, you know, the bicentennial celebration is what ushers in the, you know, the American finale of the main street electrical parade, and, you know, the, the American portion of the electrical water pageant, just, and even the return of great moments of Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland, this was just Disney, was all in on the bicentennial.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, it was a big deal. I mean, I remember I was, I was a kid back then, you know, for the bicentennial and I remember everything everywhere was, was really sort of leading up to this huge event. And that's exactly huge is exactly [00:46:00] how Disney did it. This was on my list too. This was a big parade. I don't mean just big in terms of spectacle, like the floats were big.

The characters were freakishly big when they were at Epcot, borderline frightening for children. Like there, wait, there were no humans in this parade. There were no humans whose faces weren't hidden, except for who?

Kendall Foreman: I think when I watched it, I think I saw snow white, no,

Lou Mongello: on a flu, everyone, every character was covered was a, a covered face character.

Except as part of the finale, they would have a band from a high school or college. Ah, those were the only human. There you go. BA obscure, stupid Luman Angelo trivia. That's what you get. Um, but the parade was shown twice a day. And like you said, the, the float, I remember there was a float that had like a by plane and then another plane and a train.

And they were all sort of like jumbled into one giant float with this giant rocket ship on the back. There was like a character hanging off the rocket ship. Like Spider-Man flying into space in, um, in infinity. But it was about this people of America and, you know, their flying machines. There was athletes, there was a giant snack food.

Like there was a food, there was an American food float that had like ice cream and popcorn popping out of the top and like a giant, like, uh, I was gonna make a really obscure Popeye reference, but there was like a giant, like 18 layer sandwich with like lettuce hang out. It was very, very strange. Um, I remember there was some Disney characters on there, like scat cat from the Arisa cats was on there too, but.

They really wanted to commemorate this bicentennial in a [00:48:00] very, very big, very, very impactful type of way. Um, and again, Google, if you can, some of the images of the characters, the, the people of America characters that were used in Epcot when they were given new costumes in international costumes, and they were wandering around and meeting and greeting guests in world showcase interesting to say the least

Ken for next one on my list, I'm going to, I, I was gonna save it for last because I, I, I think it. It's really important, but I also don't want you to steal it from me. So I'm going to, I think this is last, is it last I, listen, I can't count

Kendall Foreman: clearly I can wait. Yeah.

Lou Mongello: Quit counting. It does. Yeah. It doesn't really matter.

Um, you know, when we talk about American and we'll, we'll talk about, I mean, I know that there's a lot more probably on our honorable mentions list. I'm not gonna go into too, too much granular detail, but I'm gonna point you to show 5 37. Because when we talk about America, we're talking about presidents and places and history and patriotism.

And I think we sometimes forget or lose sight of those people who were here first and on show 5 37. We talk about native American references in the Disney parks. Uh, I was joined by Paul goer who runs powwows.com. And we talk a lot, not just about the parks, but we talk about. Walt and Lillian, and again, I won't go in into too much, uh, early Disney animation in terms of the, the representation of native American culture for better or for worse.

Sometimes again. You know, sometimes showing some of the warts and then in the parks, uh, going back to Disneyland and Davey Crockett Explorer canoes in Walt Disney world, uh, the Liberty square riverboat. We [00:50:00] talk about, uh, Pocahontas under forest friends, American adventure. And it, it's actually a pretty deep rabbit hole because it's not just in places like Liberty square or the American adventure, but it's in places like Canada, small world wilderness lodge, some of the other resorts, restaurants, even ceremonies that take place, um, and other representations, some of which are no longer.

In the parks. And you might think now way I'm thinking of, um, the cigar store Indian, for example, on main street USA or in frontier land, some of that'll places on attractions as well, and, and some of the lost attractions, um, and even some that are currently represented throughout, uh, the different resorts.

But I think when we talk about America, it's, it's not just sort of the, you know, the expansion of America going west and, you know, coming over to the new world, it really is also making sure that we include and recognize, um, and honor the native American references in the parks as well. And again, that's show 5 37.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah. That's a great, yeah. I love that. And that's a great show too. So are we going to, so is that move sort of to honorable mentions or

Lou Mongello: I think we, I think we have to, because there's a lot, like there there's a lot of honorable mentions and I know we sort of touched on a few of them. I sort of broke it down in my mind.

I broke it down by attractions, parades, exhibits, other places in the parks, uh, unrealized efforts overseas. And then there were some things that just didn't fit in anywhere. Like I just didn't know where to include some of these other historical references or moments in the parks. [00:52:00] Were there any that didn't make your list that sort of jumped to the top that you sort of feel bare?

Like in specific mention before I just sort of rattled them off? Um,

Kendall Foreman: if, if we're going, yeah. If we're gonna go by your categories, I think. Two in the, in the attractions area, you have to, I mean, we can only pick 10, but you have to give recognition to great moments with Mr. Lincoln. It was tough

Lou Mongello: leav off the list.

It was really tough leaving it off the list.

Kendall Foreman: And, and I love, uh, when you go back and look at the history of that, that Walt felt that that was so important for people to see that show when they moved it to Disneyland, they, they included a free, that was a free ticket for, for children to go in and see that it, you know, it was in the ticket book of, of all the junior, you know, junior tickets.

And then, um, under attractions to

Lou Mongello: I'm sorry. Oh, go ahead. No, I was gonna say, and it, you know, we have to, it's the first auto animatronic figure and you know, the Paul freeze narration, um, even two, I, I know now I, I believe two brothers from American adventure plays in, in that show still as well.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah. Then the other, other attraction that I.

thought too, just is a, that's a great representation of America. Was America, the beautiful mm-hmm um, just a great travel log and it, it features some places. Like, I love that in that if you go back and watch that show, you know, that was in tomorrow land in the seventies, that my, one of my favorite features in it was that you see, um, lake shore drive in Chicago.

Mm-hmm, just not, you know, just some locations that you don't always see get recognized in something like that.

Lou Mongello: You know, America beautiful was on my list and I never actually got to it and was on my list because it, it started off as well. It was started off as a circa Rama film, but it started off. It actually opened at the Brussels world fair in 1958, came to Disneyland [00:54:00] in 1960, and then it was reshot as a circle vision 360 for.

The tomorrow land and then obviously ended up coming over to, um, Walt Disney world as well before it was followed there by American American journeys. Um, so we also, I mean, other attractions we didn't even get to was America sings. Um, mm-hmm, the Muppets great moment in American history. I think sort of it has to

Kendall Foreman: bear back.

That was one of the ones I toiled with on my list because I loved. The, the great moments in American history. I loved the, the irreverence of it. And so maybe, maybe it doesn't deserve to be on celebrations of America, but, you know, I mean, you have to sometimes just not take yourself as seriously. Yeah. And, and, you know, miss piggy is Paula Revere and just, you know, pulling out the stick horse for Paul Revere's ride.

And I, I love that show sometimes

Lou Mongello: making something fun, lets you learn more without making you feel like you're learning. And again takes away some of, you know, we mentioned and alluded to before sort of the, the politicalization of things and sort of the ickiness sometimes, or it makes people feel, you said this as a, go with me.

I almost put it on my list. Carousel progress. It literally is a journey through American history in the American household. Like. It almost was very high on my list, Kendall, because I think it really does take the us on this journey through, you know, somewhat, sometimes typical, traditional, whatever you wanna call it.

Representation of idealized like main street USA, idealized America lives America,

Kendall Foreman: and it has literal 4th of July celebration too. Exactly.

Lou Mongello: and look, you know, I never even, I didn't get to it. Main street USA was number three on my list. [00:56:00] And I just didn't get a chance to sort of go down. I mean, for all the reasons and I, and I won't go too deep into 'em, I'm only referring to the audio tours because it did allow me sort of the width and the breath to go and talk about this in terms of this sentimental and the evocative and colorful and symbolic and, and theatrical representation of the American dream and the work ethics that helped to build this great nation.

Um, so we would be very much remiss and I consider it almost an attraction in and of itself. Um, we talked about America on parade, some of the main street electrical parade floats, um, that you mentioned the presidential inauguration parade for Reagan, uh, the finale of the electrical water pageant and the giant American flags there.

Uh, you talk about the hall of president's exhibits. There's also the American heritage gallery, which at one point held in native American exhibit. I know right now in the rotunda is the spirit of jazz. There's a ton of great artwork there. I don't remember exactly what is in the, um, American heritage gallery right now, but I love the fact that it is a rotating exhibit and is updated every couple of years to showcase different people, different cultures, different times in American history.

Um, you mentioned a lot in terms of some of the other things in the parks, voices of Liberty. Uh, we talked about the resorts, some of the unrealized efforts I know we've talked about in the past, Disney's America, the St. Louis waterfront and Liberty street. Um, And we also didn't mention Nixon being kidnapped on the Disneyland monorail opening day

Uh, was there anything that I missed in there as I sort of quickly ran through the honorable mention list?

Kendall Foreman: I think we at least touched all of them by name that was on my list as far as in the [00:58:00] parks, other than, well, no, actually food, Liberty, tree Tavern and Columbia Harbor house, both . And also, I think you can even make the argument for some of the food and wine festival booths too.

Like, you know, the apple seed orchard, the lobster landing, and go back years ago, it, it breaks my heart that they don't do this anymore. The cranberry bog and, oh, that's cranberries are one of like the few native fruits to the United States. Like, and that was such a cool thing to see that something that, you know, most Americans don't have any experience with, you know, the celebration of, you know, that portion of the country where they have those cranberry bogs was, that was a very cool thing.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. And, you know, I was thinking about this too Kendall, as we were, we were getting ready for it this morning. You know, we talk about how times change and things change and people TA change and, and today times are different. And I think sometimes convincing a child, a young adult, or sometimes even an adult to go and sit not to get, not to go into air condition, but to go and sit and watch a film, or even watch a film that has a single, an animatronic figure.

Talk about the history of America and the people who made it is tough, right? With so many other things that you can do and experience in the parks. There's nothing fancy. There's nothing showy. There's nothing Thai tech, nothing blows up, right? There's no motion or, or sensation of movement other than the emotional one that we feel.

But I very much believe strongly that these attractions, these shows these films, they have their place, they should remain. And we need to be reminded sometimes where we came from, how we got here, the people who brought us here and the optimistic possibilities our future holds, like I said, at the beginning, you know, like all of us human beings, [01:00:00] America is not perfect and you know, but she is our home and we love her and protect her.

And I do, I get emotional. Like we need to defend her and be proud of her, like warts and all. Um, and, and I wonder what might be coming next in terms of other attractions, other shows, other exhibits that will a allow that to happen. Is there anything that you wish you could add? To the parks to celebrate America in some way.

Kendall Foreman: Wow. Um, that's a huge question. I, I think, you know, you mentioned that about drawing people in something that's flashy and I'm not sure where the rights sit with this, but I think something that maybe would, would really draw some people in is if you could, you know, whether it was during festival of the arts or over 4th of July or something, but if you were able to pull in Hamilton from Disney plus and, and, you know, kind of bring that to the, you know, the, the America gardens theater or something like that, I think that would be a very cool addition.

Just being able to do some performances of that, because that has hit so many, you know, millions of people over the last several years, Um, I, yeah, I mean, it's tough because what is, there is such a, a great representation. If you can get people in the

Lou Mongello: door, right. Hamilton degree. I mean, it's a, it's a brilliant idea because you're right.

It did introduce not just so many generations of, of so, so many. Young people in that generation, but older people as well. And I think hopefully taught them more about real American history, but I would also love to know from you either what idea you would have for something you would [01:02:00] add to the parks or resorts, or even your favorite way that Disney has paid tribute to America in the parks.

What did we miss? What do you miss? Is there something that's gone that you miss? There's a lot of ways you can let me know. You can come be part of the community and conversation over in our Facebook group in the WDW radio clubhouse, WDW radio.com/clubhouse. I will put that question there. You can also email me Lou WW, radio.com or better yet call the voicemail.

I'll play it on the air at 407-900-9391. And then please go over to the WDW Radio blog. You can search for Kendall's name. I'll also link to her articles there, including the one that's going to be posted later on this week. Kendall, thank you so much, not just for yet another great idea, but your passion and preparation and insight into so many of these wonderful, sometimes unique ways that we have seen America represented and paid tribute to in the Disney parks.

Kendall Foreman: Yeah, absolutely great conversation. And now I'm just wishing I could have lunch at Columbia Harbor house. I was just, I was

Lou Mongello: just thinking God, like, how did I not mention like the barbecue in American Adventure, top 10 American foods in all? Wait top 10, all American foods in Walt Disney world. Yeah. Casey's only there was somebody, anybody who could go do that research with me.

I'm literally trying to think. Can I get a show out like that before July 4th? Just so I have an excuse to go to the parks....

Oh, you could do it...

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About Lou Mongello

Lou Mongello is a former attorney who left the practice to pursue his passion, and is now a recognized Disney expert, author, speaker, and host of WDW Radio. Learn more…

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