Considering how patriotic Walt Disney was during his lifetime, it only makes sense that an attraction like Hall of Presidents would be found in Magic Kingdom, allowing guests to come face to face with all 45 presidents of the United States.
Some people might think The Hall of Presidents is boring, but we have to disagree. Who could call the story of the birth of the US boring? This show has everything: Giant film screens, an audio-animatronic of George Washington, and endless air conditioning at a time when you need it most. What’s not to love?
Ready to plan for the most patriotic part of your Disney World vacation? Keep reading for our guide to The Hall of Presidents.
The Hall of Presidents Quick Facts
Description: During this 25 minute show, you’ll watch history come to life in a theater modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Not only will you get to see (very impressive) audio-animatronics of the U.S. presidents, but you’ll also hear the story of the birth of the nation.
The Hall of Presidents is located in Liberty Square diagonally across from Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe and between the Liberty Square Market and Sleepy Hollow Refreshments.
How to Watch The Hall of Presidents
The Hall of Presidents has a Standby Line. There is no Single Rider Line or Lightning Lane offered here.
Do I Need To Use Genie+ at the Hall of Presidents?
Genie+ is not available at The Hall of Presidents, but that’s not a bad thing — even if it was offered, there’s a good chance you’d rarely need it!
This is an attraction you can visit any time during the day that makes sense to you, and logistically, it’s the perfect place to hang out while you’re waiting for a Lightning Lane at the Haunted Mansion (or another attraction). Rarely will the wait ever be longer than the time it takes for the show in progress to end.
Rider Switch/Child Swap
As there is no height requirement for The Hall of Presidents, this attraction does not offer Rider Switch. Plus, Rider Switch isn’t normally offered for shows and reserved for rides.
Rider Switch is Disney’s system that allows guests with small children to take turns riding bigger rides, while another person/people wait with the little one.
What to Expect When You Watch
The Hall of Presidents is housed in a colonial hall that takes its inspiration from the Philadelphia and Boston colonial meeting halls used during the American Revolution.
Above the entrance to the hall, look for the date 1787, the year the Constitution was signed.
Most of your time waiting in the queue will take place inside the building. After entering, guests find themselves in a large lobby. Various portraits of American presidents line the walls, and a carpet featuring the “Great Seal of the United States” can be found in the center of the lobby.
While you’re waiting, make sure to peruse artifacts from former presidents, and even some dresses which were worn by first ladies on Inauguration Day.
There is also an exhibit dedicated to Walt Disney, his fascination with Abraham Lincoln, and the development of the Hall of Presidents.
You’ll then make your way into a large theater where you can take a seat to enjoy the show.
Since you are seated in a theater for this experience, those in wheelchairs and ECVs may remain in them. Guests using wheelchairs and ECVs will be seated in a special area in the theater.
Handheld captioning and assistive listening is available for guests.
In the Show
If you prefer to experience The Hall of Presidents without any spoilers, you may want to skip right over this part.
The show begins with a film presentation titled The Idea of a President, depicting a historical account of several American presidencies, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.
The screens then ascend into the rafters to reveal the U.S. presidents center stage. As they are called, each president responds to their name with a nod or a wave.
The show is approximately 25 minutes long and runs continuously throughout the day. When in the area, be sure to check the large clock beneath the marquee for the next available showtime.
Is The Hall of Presidents Kid-Friendly?
While the Hall of Presidents is appropriate for guests of all ages, it is geared towards older children and adults. It’s pretty long and could be boring for younger kids, especially those who may have trouble sitting still for the entire performance.
That being said, there are no “scary” parts in The Hall of Presidents. Be sure to check out our guide for things that may scare little ones at Disney World.
Strollers are not allowed in most queues at Walt Disney World, including for The Hall of Presidents. They can be left at the designated stroller parking area near the entrance to the show.
Stroller parking can be found immediately next to the entrance to the attraction at Liberty Square Market. Since this show is a long one, you may want to cover your stroller to protect it from any Florida rainstorms that may pop up while you’re inside, and take your valuables with you.
In the late 1950s, Walt Disney had an idea for an attraction at Disneyland called One Nation Under God. It was going to be about the United States and the Constitution and would feature life-size Audio Animatronics of all the U.S. presidents together on stage as the grand finale. However, the technology to create such an attraction had yet to be created so the idea was scrapped.
For the 1964 World’s Fair, Walt Disney agreed to create a show for the Illinois Pavilion called Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. It was a scaled-down version of the One Nation Under God show that Walt had dreamed up for Disneyland, but focused solely on Abraham Lincoln.
Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln was such a success at the World’s Fair, that Walt Disney decided to move the attraction to Disneyland. In 1966, the show opened on Main Street, U.S.A.
Because it ended up being so popular, Imagineers wanted to include Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln as one of the original Walt Disney World attractions. However, instead of creating an exact replica of the attraction, they decided to revisit the One Nation Under God concept.
Luckily, technology had vastly improved since Walt’s original idea and the Magic Kingdom had much more space available to create a large enough stage to house Audio-Animatronics of all of the presidents.
Imagineers decided to use artwork that was photographed one frame at a time to create the film for what would eventually become The Hall of Presidents.
Under the direction of Academy Award winner John DeCuire, an art team worked every day for two years to create over 85 pieces of art. Taking into account the attraction’s 20 by 200-foot screen, some of the artwork was as large as 40 feet long. Disney Legend Ub Iwerks used five individual 70mm projections, each of which were forty feet wide, to show the original film.
Imagineer Blaine Gibson, who had sculpted Abraham Lincoln for the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show, was called in to create the presidential figures in the Hall of Presidents. Once he created the busts, they were sent to Guatemala, where wig makers crafted authentic hairpieces and tailors stitched period-correct outfits.
For each president, Imagineers included a number of specific details such as the fact that George Washington’s chair was an exact reproduction of the one he sat in during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and Presidents Andrew Johnson, Rutherford B. Hayes, and William McKinley all wear Civil War-era lapel pins.
The Hall of Presidents opened with the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971.
For the first two decades, the Hall of Presidents did not feature many changes with the exception of the addition of presidential Audio-Animatronics as a new leader was elected. This included Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, and George H.W. Bush.
In 1993, Columbia professor Eric Forner convinced Disney executives that the show did not pay enough attention to the issues of slavery and civil rights. The attraction closed in September 1993 to revamp the film and added President Bill Clinton to the attraction. When it reopened a month later, the film was now narrated by poet Maya Angelou.
In 2001, J.D. Hall replaced Maya Angelou and President George W. Bush was added to the attraction, including a speech he recorded specifically for The Hall of Presidents.
In 2008, the Hall of Presidents once again underwent major renovations, including an upgrade to HD film, a new sound system for the show’s new score by Joel McNeely and the addition of the newly elected President Barack Obama. The attraction was also renamed The Hall of Presidents: A Celebration of Liberty’s Leaders.
On January 17, 2017 The Hall of Presidents closed once again. It reopened on December 19, 2017. Besides the addition of Donald Trump to the attraction, the hall also received a brand new script and film.
On January 20, 2021, the Hall of Presidents closed to add President Joe Biden and his Audio-Animatronic debuted on August 3, 2021. Unlike the past few presidents, President Biden does not give a speech at the attraction’s conclusion, instead, he simply recites the Presidential Oath.
Other Fun Details
- All the presidents were sculpted by Blaine Gibson with the exception of Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden’s audio-animatronics which were sculpted by his apprentice, Valerie Edwards. Gibson passed away in 2015 at 97 years old.
- The presidential roll call must be re-recorded every time a new president is added to the show.
- Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are some of the most advanced, lifelike, and expressive human figures that Walt Disney Imagineering has ever built.
- As of 2023, while there have been 46 presidencies, only 45 individuals have served as president. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms and is both the 22nd and 24th U.S. president.
- The date above the main doors of the attraction is 1787, the year the Constitutional Congress convened. You may be wondering why 1787 was chosen instead of 1776. That’s because the Office of the President didn’t actually exist until the Constitution was written.
- The attraction has been narrated by several different celebrities:
- 1971 to 1993: Lawrence Dobkin
- 1993 to 2001: Maya Angelou
- 2001 to 2009: J.D. Hall
- 2009 to 2017: Morgan Freeman
- 2017 to Present: Joy Vandervort-Cobb
- Actor David Morse voices George Washington in the current version of the attraction. Morse played Washington in the HBO miniseries, John Adams.
- The Hall of Presidents is recognized as a Federal Presidential Museum because it houses several historic artifacts in the lobby.
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