It’s a model of a modern major overhaul? Traditionally, updating The Hall of President at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom centers around a new general. Well, more like a new commander in chief for the United States. In a year where anything could and has happened, could we be closing in on a major shake-up in Liberty Square? Well, that’s what here to investigate. Let’s fall in line and investigate what the marching orders could be for updating The Hall of Presidents.
What History Tells Us
History can be a map of sorts. It tells us a lot of things, especially, when it comes to updating The Hall of Presidents. It’s predictable. Every four years or eight years, Disney heads into Liberty Square to add the newest leader of the free world. Looking back, we can see a trend as it relates to the overall timing of the changes. Once the new president is sworn into office in January, The Hall of Presidents closes in the following fall for a month or so, then reopens with the newest animatronic about a month later.
One of the only times the attraction closed for more than a month was in 2008. Between October 2008 and July 2009 Disney executed a major overhaul. In addition to adding the President Obama animatronic, extensive work was done on the theater to update both the audio and visual equipment. Recently, the only other time the attraction was closed for an extended amount of time was due to delays related to the current administration in recording the show’s dialogue.
It’s a whole new world. It’s unprecedented times. Insert your favorite change-related tagline here. What we’re saying is there are a variety of topics that are hot buttons items for most people. Politics is one of them. No matter how you slice it, The Hall of President is both historical and political. Disney would agree. As we spoke about in a previous article, Disney has earmarked a variety of attractions that would be considered controversial in today’s world. For our understanding, The Hall of Presidents is one of them.
Furthering our assumption was the statement Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D’Amaro at the International Association of Amusement Park Attractions. The statement centered around adding a 5th Key to their guiding principles, Inclusion. Here is the full statement on adding the Inclusion Key:
“Events in the U.S. forced us to look across our entire business with an updated lens and frankly we have some work to do both on stage and backstage. And at Disney, a company steeped in traditions and heritage, change isn’t always easy,” D’Amaro said. “When we say, ‘To all who come to this happy place, welcome,’ that means everyone, both cast, and guests. And … that’s a tradition that goes back to Walt Disney himself.” – Josh D’Amaro
Josh D’Amaro directly calls out making changes both on stage and back stage. On stage directly relates to anything a guest would experience. We’ve already seen this initiation in motion with the addition of Redd in Pirates of the Caribbean, and the announcement of updating Splash Mountain. In the DVC Duo house, the question is not if updating The Hall of Presidents will happen, but more around when.
It’s the hardest question to answer. Similar to the updating of Splash Mountain to a Princess and the Frog attraction, updating The Hall Presidents has two outside factors. Those factors are both the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World and budgeting. What we know is the last major update took nine months. Additionally, we’ve heard rumors that Disney has already tapped Lin-Manuel Miranda to head-up the writing of the attraction’s new storyline. Assuming the script is ready to go and Disney closed The Hall of Presidents in January, there is a small chance the attraction could be ready for October 1, 2021 (the kick-off to the 50th Anniversary celebration).
There are two options for updating The Hall of Presidents. The first is to follow in the footsteps of what they did with the President Obama update. Close the attraction in the fall of 2021 then reopen it 4th of July weekend. Or, they can make a minor update by adding the President Biden animatronic then move forward with the major overhaul after the big celebration.
Options, they’ve got options. While nothing has been confirmed by Disney, it looks like the writing could be on the wall. Ultimately, updating The Hall of President will more than likely happen sooner than later. In the DVC Duo house, we believe it could make sense to update everything at once, even if it means the attraction is closed for the beginning of the 50th Anniversary. Especially, if Disney were able to plan a reopening around the countries Independence Day. While doing everything at once would be a larger expense, in the long run, it would save money for the company. Additionally, For now, it’s a wait and see approach, but something tells us we could know a lot more come the end of January 2021.
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