President Barak ObamaDewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel was able to get a sneak peek of the Hall of Presidents attraction that has been revamaped and is scheduled to reopen on July 4th at The Magic Kingdom. While the big news is the addition of our 44th president, Barak Obama, there are additional changes and updates as well.

Here is a quick line item list of some of things you can expect to see when the attraction re-opens next week.

  • The front room (pre-show) has been reorganized a bit. Some of the presidential portraits have been replaced, and the imagery has quotations beneath them. A new display area features dresses from three first ladies – Elizabeth Monroe, Edith Roosevelt and Nancy Reagan. (The silk dresses of Monroe and Roosevelt are reproductions).
  • Mrs. Reagan picked out six dresses for Disney Imagineers to rotate through the collection. Her outfit will change every six months, starting off in a black-sequined number.
  • New wording has been placed on an interior wall. It now reads “Welcome to the Hall of Presidents, a Celebration of Liberty’s Leaders.” Outside, the building gets its first marquee. Previously, there was merely a sign in the planter.
  • The film, now narrated by Morgan Freeman, is a bit trimmer, and the Animatronic section expanded.
  • The emphasis of the attraction is more about the history of the presidency and the presidents as people. Before, it was more of a history lesson. This change will help distinguish the Hall from the American Adventure presentation at Epcot.
  • The film still will end with the Space Shuttle as the curtain rises to reveal the presidents.
  • Barack Obama stands to Abraham Lincoln’s right. Lincoln sits front-and-center still. Obama wears a dark blue suit and burgundy tie.
  • Obama recorded the oath of office and a speech prepared by Disney (with minor changes) in the Map Room of the White House.
  • The Obama model is the next level of Animatronic. “He has more facial expression than has ever done before. He’s our most advanced figure we’ve done, but he’s not a completely new generation with everything starting over,” says Eric Jacobson, senior vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering. “The challenge is that everyone see him every day on television. Everyone’s an expert on Obama.”
  • George Washington stands and speaks for the first time in the Hall of Presidents. He is voiced by David Morse, who portrayed Washington in the HBO series John Adams. His lines are an actual quote from Washington, on how he felt as he was sworn in.
  • The roll call is at a more leisurely pace than the previous version. And some of the men have been repositioned to lessen the “ping-pong effect” of the roll call. All have been reprogrammed, but you won’t necessarily notice, because of the changes in the scene and the new pacing.
  • Alas, no photos allowed yet. Disney is not ready for Obama’s closeup yet. “We’re sort of in dress rehearsals right now,” Jacobson says. “We haven’t had any audiences other than ourselves.”

There you have it, an inside look of some of the changes that have been put in place since the attraction closed last November to bring it up to date and incorporate the new president.


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