Did you know that there is more to Liberty Square than just the Haunted Mansion? Think really hard. . . Can you name another attraction? Well, if you are left speechless, then continue reading so that you can learn of another often overlooked attraction in the Magic Kingdom. Of course, the hallmark attraction of Liberty Square is the Hall of the Presidents. This experience is educational in that it is filled with many different historical figures, and it tells the story of the presidency when it began with George Washington. The Hall of the Presidents was an opening day attraction on October 1, 1971 when the Magic Kingdom first opened its doors. When the park first opened and for several more years, tickets were required to enter attractions. A through E tickets existed, and E tickets were reserved for the most exciting and thrilling attractions. The Hall of the Presidents was actually an E ticket attraction. There was even an extended queue for this attraction where the food market sits currently under the awning in the center of Liberty Square directly across from the Liberty Belle Steamboat. The use of audio animatronics in this attraction is truly breathtaking considering all of the technical magic that must occur for each of these figures to speak, stand up, sit down, and behave in a real-life way during the show.
Speaking of audio animatronics, this show originated with Walt Disney’s desire to have a Liberty Street in Disneyland. As you know, this did not become a reality, but Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was created. This attraction was a marvel when it was fashioned for the World’s Fair in 1964-1965 in New York. Finally, after this figure made its debut, the technology was starting to catch up with the creativity at WED (Walt Disney Imagineering). When Disney World opened in 1971, the Hall of the Presidents would be a testament to all of the knowledge and technical know-how that was gained from Disney’s showing at the World’s Fair.
The show has changed over the years as new presidents have been elected; however, the message that celebrates freedom and the importance of our Constitution is never lost through these alterations in narrators or in films that introduce the real show. Let’s take a tour of the building that houses this attraction and then take a look at the attraction itself. When you first approach the building, look for little details in the windows. You will see some lanterns and a doll in one of the windows. All of these little details have significant meanings. For example, see if you can figure out what the lanterns mean in American history. Hint: Think Paul Revere. Anyway, as you enter the building, be sure to take notice of the detailed and beautiful works of art that line the corridors of the halls in the building. After you take some time to explore, don’t forget to check out the Great Seal that is present in the center of the atrium. This seal was constructed with special permission because it is one of three that exist in the world. If you look at the Eagle, you will see that it will always be clutching an olive branch, which is a sign of peace in the country. However, the Great Seal in Washington actually has a removable piece of carpet that can represent the country being at war as well. I doubt the Disney Eagle will ever change to represent war.
Once it is time for you to enter in to the theater, you need to move toward the left of the building toward the curtains which will raise once the castmember has given you a little history lesson about America and about the Hall of the Presidents itself. When you enter the theater, you will notice its huge scope and size. Any seat will afford you a wonderful view of the stage. Personally, though, I always like to sit in the front row. I don’t want to ruin too much of the magic for you, but the show begins with a film about America that is narrated by Morgan Freeman. During this film, you will learn many interesting facts about some of the early leaders of America. When it is time for Abraham Lincoln to speak, the curtain rises on the most stunning audio animatronics figure that you will see until you see the Barack Obama figure and the George Washington figure. All of these figures are so life-like that it is hard to believe that they are not real people. All of the AA’s in this attraction are very well done. Each figure has his own introduction during the presidential roll call, and each president will nod or fidget in some way during the show. These little details add to the suspension of reality that occurs once you enter the show building.
Now, in order to fully enjoy this experience, you need to take a trip to Liberty Square and spend time in this attraction. Do not be tempted to take a nap as you sit soaking up the air conditioning that is such a respite from the unforgiving Florida sun. I know that it is tempting, but spend some time taking in the history as you experience a show dedicated to all nations, but mostly America. Oops, I think I stepped off on the wrong ride there! Anyway, try to make time for this attraction; you will not be disappointed, and maybe you will learn something along the way! Until next time, have a magical day, and keep moving forward!