ORLANDO, Fla. – As President-elect Joe Biden awaits his swearing-in, Walt Disney World fans wait for word on when he’ll join the POTUS parade at Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents.
There’s no date, yet, on when Biden will take the stage with his 44 animatronic predecessors, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
As of Sunday, Disney had not offered official word on adding Biden to the presidential lineup at the soon-to-be 50-year-old Liberty Square icon — which normally closes around the time of the inauguration of the incoming president to prepare the new addition — or if any changes will be made at the attraction. The Trump figure was added in December 2017, 11 months after his inauguration.
On Saturday, the Hall was open with continuous showings of the film about the nation’s founding and, as the curtain rises, a visit with every U.S. president via animatronic figures.
While attendance-wise the Hall of Presidents is not one of Magic Kingdom’s most sought-after experiences, guests for the showing starting just after 3 p.m. filled available spots in the theater. Seating is socially distanced and guests are reminded several times to keep their masks on throughout the presentation.
Alison Price, of Smithfield, Pennsylvania, got emotional as she talked about her love for the attraction, which she visited with family members including her daughter, Madison Price, and her mother, Brenda Marunyak.
“I’m all about my American heritage,” Price said. “I think all our children should know how we came to be, learn about how important the Constitution is, be knowledgeable about how we vote for our future president.”
The crowd Price was part of was respectful, clapping before and after the show.
But the Hall has drawn its share of controversy over the past few years. Early on in Trump’s presidency, just as with his predecessor, Barack Obama, boos could be heard as his audio-animatronic figure spoke. Live security guards are now present in the Hall, and small, spike-like structures ring the stage.
Some have called for the Hall to be updated into a more diverse, entertaining show with widespread appeal, rather than a politics-fueled place to cool off after a day in the sun.
Even the Trump figure itself has been mocked. It’s been said to look more like, among others, the late Rev. Billy Graham, actor Jon Voight or Mrs. Doubtfire than Trump — and rumors persisted, despite no evidence, that it was originally designed as Hillary Clinton and revamped as Trump.
In a recent interview with Orlando Weekly, Josh Young, who runs a theme park opinion site called Theme Park University, said that as a place for escapism, “I’d venture to say presidential politics may be one of the top things people would want a break from these days.”
“While the Hall of Presidents is specifically written in such a way to not lean to one side or the other, the mere mention of the name Trump or Biden will set people’s blood boiling,” he said. “Maybe not because they disagree with their politics, but just because they are tired of hearing about it.”
Stephen Abrams Harrison praises the skills of the Disney team that designs every new POTUS addition, and Hall of Presidents has been “a favorite experience of mine since I was a child,” he said.
The first time he saw the Trump animatronic, in a video, “I thought it was brilliant,” said Harrison, founder of Facebook group Disney Democrats.
“Disney imagineers are the best in the business and they captured Trump’s likeness in every way. I have heard people say that it looks like ‘xyz’ but I only see a true reflection,” he said.
Still, the Houston, Texas, resident can’t bring himself to go back inside the Hall, and some members of the group don’t want to return until Trump has no speaking part. Until 1993, Abraham Lincoln was the only “talking” POTUS at the Hall; current presidents have had that role since Bill Clinton was elected.
“I am sure there are many who want to celebrate him but as a parent of a child with a disability, I can’t bring myself to celebrate a man who mocked a person with a disability for having a disability,” Harrison said.
Price remains a fan of the Hall, she said, and was happy to share the return visit with her family.
“We need to be together, not apart,” she said.
“As far the presidential election and the transfer, I feel that if the people voted for the president, then we should be able to respect that and go on with our lives. Republican, Democrat, independent, we just need to be Americans.”