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…]