Join hosts Mike and Didi as they bring you news and discussion about everything fun, including theme parks, video games, television, movies, music and more. [Read more…]
After a year of being under refurbishment, The Hall of Presidents has officially soft-opened in Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. The attraction is scheduled to officially reopen tomorrow, Dec. 19. [Read more…]
There will be “huge” changes inside some Orlando attractions in the wake of last night’s historic Presidential election, as figures of president-elect Donald Trump are being added to Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents, and Madame Tussauds at the I-Drive 360. [Read more…]
Their short-lived ABC television revival may have recently been given the axe, but friends of Kermit and the gang can now celebrate, because Walt Disney World has announced that an all-new Magic Kingdom Muppets live show is coming to Liberty Square starting this October.
President Obama made a quick stop at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park yesterday to unveil a new policy to boost tourism. Here’s video of his full 12 minute speech and more. [Read more…]
Actor Blair Underwood and his family recently visited Universal And Disney theme parks while in Orlando. At Universal Studios, he’s seen visiting with The Simpsons outside of their ride. And it was only fitting that he visit The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom since he currently plays the President of the United States on the NBC television show The Event. [Read more…]
Our YouTube channel was a popular place in 2009. We reached more than a million views for a couple of our older videos, while others lay dormant for reasons unknown to us. Sometimes we think a video is going to be a huge hit and it flops, and sometimes we wonder why we’re bothering to record something and it turns out to be very popular. Other times a video won’t be popular for weeks and weeks, then all of the sudden the view count shoots up. But for whatever reasons, here are the top 10 viewed videos we posted in 2009. We’ll start at number 10.
A full ride on SeaWorld’s new Manta roller coaster – 99,000+ views
Club Penguin Rockhopper and Blue Penguin at Walt Disney World – 120,000+ views
Halloween Horror Nights 19 2009 Opening Night Scare Zones – 130,000+ views
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow at the Disney D23 Expo – 131,000+ views
Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2009 with Disney Fairies – 132,000+ views
David Cook Sings at Walt Disney World’s American Idol – 135,000+ views
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster POV from Universal Studios – 306,000+ views
American Idol Kris Allen sings “Heartless” at Disney World – 388,000+ views
Dance-Off with the Star War Stars 2009 – Hyperspace Hoopla – 408,000+ views
David Cook and Carrie Underwood Duet at Walt Disney World – 820,000+ views
As we said in our Top 10 Blog Posts of 2009 story, some videos have obviously been online longer than others, so here’s our honorable mentions:
Manta Opening SeaWorld Orlando – Views, Interviews, & Queue – 80,000+ views
Star Wars Weekends 2009 Parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 22, Opening Day – 78,000+ views
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Now Open – 77,000+ views
Disney World Fantasyland expansion announcement & makeover concept art – 66,000+ views
Disney Hall of Presidents update with Obama animatronic – 60,000+ views
Following yesterday’s naturalization ceremony at the Magic Kingdom, we had a chance to talk to senior show producer at Walt Disney Imagineering Kathy Rogers about the recent updates to the Hall of Presidents attraction.
Here is our interview:
Q: What was your role in the Hall of Presidents update?
A: I’m responsible for coordinating the creative team and making sure that division is executed into the attraction.
Q: How long ago did you start working on the refurbishment?
A: We started in the fall of 2006, because we knew at that time that we would be electing a new president and so Pam Fisher, who is our senior show writer, started to write and put a script together and she started to work with [Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian] Doris Kearns Goodwin in 2007 to really capture what are the key story elements that we thought would be important in it. The really strong one is the bond between the president and the people; we the people have elected these individuals to be our leaders and how they have led our country.
Q: At the time, you obviously didn’t know who was going to be the next president. Did you alter the show at all depending on who was elected?
A: No, it was not altered. It was written and it would have been the same show no matter who would have been elected at the time.
Q: What was the number one thing you wanted to approach in bettering the previous version of the Hall of Presidents?
A: I think it was to develop that connection between the people and the president and make those presidents more human, more real to people – that these are real individuals to get voted in to be our leaders and to connect with them as real people.
Q: Why did you decide to add a speaking role for George Washington?
A: It’s really important to have that connection from our first president. He set some very strong precedents in terms of stepping down – being elected into the role and then coming back and being a common person – and really connecting that first president with the current president.
Q: What improvements have you made in the attraction technologically?
A: Like we have done on Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, we’ve had the opportunity to come in and you can see the digital projection, which is incredible -the clarity of the images now-, digital audio, digital lighting control, LED lighting, we added a new show control to the animated figures on stage, we have new rigging, new screens. We did a little bit of everything. [Read more…]
The official Web site for the White House has posted a behind-the-scenes video of President Obama recording his lines for the recent Hall of Presidents update at the Magic Kingdom along with interviews with some of Disney’s Imagineers who worked on the project:
You can see the Obama audio-animatronic figure deliver the complete speech, along with that of George Washington, in our previously-posted video.
The Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom was recently given an overhaul, including new advanced audio-animatronic versions of US Presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Barack Obama.
Here’s a look at Washington and Obama as seen in the attraction, followed by my thoughts on the new show:
I visited the attraction today and was quite impressed by not only these new animatronics but also the show as a whole. The previous version, which ran for roughly the duration of George W. Bush’s terms in the White House, was, in my opinion, on the boring side. It opened with a lengthy film and spent far too little time on the highlight of the show: the presidents.
In the new version, the show still features a movie and all 44 presidents “live” on stage, but it is all integrated together much more smoothly. The movie is comprised mostly of still photographs and paintings telling a brief overview of the history of US Presidents, beginning with Washington’s reluctance to take the office all the way through video of Bush speaking into a megaphone post-9/11. Actor Morgan Freeman replaces the previous narrator, Maya Angelou J.D. Hall [see comment for edit explanation]. Freeman’s narration is clear and concise, allowing the audience to focus on what is being said rather than how it is said. It’s edutainment at its best.
Midway through the movie, the audio-animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln is revealed, seated alone in the middle of the stage. He smoothly stands up and recites the entire Gettysburg Address (the same recording that was used in the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction at Disneyland in California for many years). This is easily one of Disney’s most lifelike animatronics they have produced and the best representation of our 16th president that I’ve ever seen.
After the movie ends, the screens shift aside to reveal all of the presidents – some seated, some standing. The lights dim and the presidents are individually introduced by name, each giving a head nod toward the audience as they are illuminated by spotlights.
All of the animatronics look incredibly lifelike in person (much better than in the video above). I saw the show twice today, once from the middle of the theater and once from the front row. The lighting is rather dim throughout the show and I found it difficult to see well from the middle of the theater, so I highly recommend staying to the left as you enter the theater to secure a front row seat.
Whether you voted for Barack Obama or not, you will enjoy seeing him in person, even if only in audio-animatronic form. Any American will receive a strong sense of patriotism in seeing the newly-updated Hall of Presidents. Disney has done a fantastic job replacing a once-boring show with an entertaining and informative presentation featuring state-of-the-art technology that is sure to excite Americans and international travelers alike.
The newly-updated Hall of Presidents officially opens on Independence Day, July 4, but has been running previews for several days. I highly encourage you to go see it.