Disney has abandoned their normal neutrality in the Hall of Presidents display. The them of the new display is that all of Presidential history was just a build up to the election of Barack Obama. This is another good reason to avoid going to Disney. Now that Robobama has taken it's place in the exhibit, we have to wonder how people will be able to tell if he's real or not?
This past weekend, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom offered a sneak peek of a revamped Hall of Presidents, now including President Obama, to annual passholders (with separate screenings for Cast Members). By the end of the day Sunday, regular guests were admitted to the attraction as well, and full-blown soft opening appears underway. The attraction opens publicly on July 4th.
The verdict by most reviewers online and in discussion boards has been positive, and in some cases glowingly positive. Yet this is a difficult attraction to review completely and in a way that will appear objective to all readers, because as I see it, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) seems to have done something new here: on the surface of things, they appear to have taken sides politically. I've already witnessed first-hand that this makes some people react less than favorably to the show. It probably won't be the majority of people who dislike it, but the days of the attraction being seen as a fully neutral presentation are gone, at least for now.
The attraction sports new marquees, a new countdown clock indicating how many minutes until the next show, and a new subtitle: "A Celebration of Liberty's Leaders." There are new movies (well, slideshow presentations), and they are displayed in eye-popping, unrealistically bright and cheerful projections, the result of a switch to digital projectors. It's jarring, in fact, how "fresh" that part of the show looks when compared to your memory of the dingy, cracked, faded, and often dirty film print that used to run here.
But this is no mere freshening of the same show, with the new president plopped into place at the end. This was a fundamental rethink of the show's purpose, scope, and orientation. The bottom line is that the show now offers park visitors an actual, honest to goodness thesis: everything in American presidential history, it claims by virtue of a new storyline, has been inexorably leading up to this moment, and the election of Barack Obama is the culmination of a long "development" in us as a culture and a society. There will be many who cheer this line of reasoning, but it strikes me that others may resent the apparent taking of sides. Had John McCain won the election, would the show celebrate in a similar way? (accent is mine)