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By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Review: The Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom



By Dave Shute

Hall of Presidents was one of the initial attractions in the Magic Kingdom. Always a show that combines a stirring narration, period images, and audio-animatronics of the U.S. presidents, it has been frequently updated, and came out of a major update in December 2017.

I had the chance to see it in January 2018, and thought a President’s Day review would be appropriate.

The short version is that new images and a new emphasis in the narrated story make it very much worth a visit, although it will continue to be enjoyed most by adults and patriotic Americans, and be dull for most kids.

REVIEW: HALL OF PRESIDENTS IN LIBERTY SQUARE AT MAGIC KINGDOM

Hall of Presidents was designed to be the East Coast counterpart to Disneyland’s groundbreaking Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, expanding the scope to all presidents and the history to the not just the Civil War but also the sweep of the American experiment.

The initial show was largely unchanged other than the addition of new presidents as they emerged until 1993, when a major update to the show, spurred by Columbia history professor Eric Forner, was implemented. In 2008-2009, the show closed for 8 months for a major upgrade to the audio and video systems, and Morgan Freeman became the narrator.

The Hall closed again in January 2017 for a major re-do of the show, re-opening about 11 months later. As always, the new president was added, with the traditional speaking part of the Oath of Office and a new brief homily about the American people.

More significantly, the script, narrator, and images have all largely changed. The theme, now, is a little less about America’s struggles and presidential responses—although that material is certainly there—and more about the importance and challenges of the office of the presidency itself. Washington still highlights the beginning, but his story is now less about the Revolutionary War and more about the limits that Washington by his actions imposed on the power of the presidency.

Andrew Jackson is out, and the major bits that follow are Lincoln (more narrowly focused, on the Gettysburg Address), Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, all of the presidents in a roll call, Washington again, and finally President Trump.

The new imagery and story work just fine, building on the traditions of this attraction while making it fresh and new. Those who loved the old Hall of Presidents won’t find much here to disappoint.

One new element is the presence of security guards in the performance space. Disney has not found it useful to say why they are here, but some have speculated that they are present to disincent roving bands of Franklin Pierce fans and their “We’re Number 14!” chants.

I’ve always enjoyed Hall of Presidents—while thinking that The American Adventure in Epcot covers much of the same terrain much more effectively and with a better pace. You won’t find Franklin Pierce in it, for example. Those on shorter visits might skip the Hall and see The American Adventure instead.

The show continues to be on the hour and half hour.  Arrvie near show-time and you ought not to need to wait much. But do check on the schedule of The Muppets Present: Great Moments in American History… showing just outside, as it’s fun to see one, and then the other.

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4 comments

1 cherry { 02.23.18 at 9:18 am }

going 6/9 /18 – 6/16/18. Staying at Pop C. Any suggestions for bldgs (pref), and parks for ea day? Trying to get FP for Avatar, suggestions? Thx!

2 Dave { 02.26.18 at 9:13 am }

Hi Cherry, see this for a starting point on your park plans. Note that it puts FOP at the end of the trip–that means you will be competing with fewer people for the FP+.

Among the preferred rooms at Pop, I recommend those in buidlgins 6 and 10–they are (a bit) closer to the buses, and because they don’t surround a pool, are quieter.

3 Dennis { 03.06.18 at 6:02 pm }

I enjoyed the “new” Hall of Presidents – better over all history – just wish it was easier to see the presidents lit up during the roll call – but always a must go to (I personally like it better than American Adventure … but that’s just me.)

4 Dave { 03.07.18 at 8:11 am }

Thanks, Dennis!

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