The Search for a Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow: Performing Utopia with Non-Human Bodies in the Hall of Presidents
The Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents is steeped in Walt Disney’s vision of a utopian society, a framework that inspired plans for Disney parks worldwide. This patriotic spectacle about the American presidency provides its viewers a vision of a faultless American past using lifelike Audio-Animatronic performers. D’Ambrosi’s essay interrogates the form and function of utopia within the Hall of Presidents through the role of these Audio-Animatronics and the alterations made after the politically divisive 2016 presidential election. Given the behavior of then-candidate Trump during the campaign, many guests protested the inclusion of an Audio-Animatronic Trump in the attraction, citing his “Un-Presidential” behavior. The company’s approach to his script strives to present an inclusive, conflict-free atmosphere that idealizes American identity arguing that Audio-Animatronics can be better model citizens than real people.
KeywordsDisney world Hall of Presidents Trump Audio-Animatronics Utopia Patriotism
- Bryman, Alan. 2004. The Disneyization of Society. London: Sage Publishers.Google Scholar
- Craig, Edward Gordon. 1998. The Actor and the Über-Marionette. In Theatre, Theory, Theatre, ed. Daniel Gerould, 393–398. New York: Applause.Google Scholar
- Garcia, Catherine. 2017. The Disney World Trump Animatronic Is Here, and It’s Something Else. The Week—All You Need to Know About Everything That Matters, December 18. http://theweek.com/speedreads/744157/disney-world-trump-animatronic-here-something-else.
- Harrington, Seán J. 2014. The Disney Fetish. New Barnet: John Libbey Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar
- Jones, Bruce. 2017. Customer Service 101: Happiness is a Purple Balloon. Disney Institute Blog, March 28. https://www.disneyinstitute.com/blog/customer-service-101-happiness-is-a-purple-balloon/.
- Marin, Louis. 1984. Utopics: Spatial Play. Trans. Robert A. Vollrath. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press Inc.Google Scholar
- Norman, Jim. 2016. Ratings of Trump Campaign Worst in Recent Election Years. Gallup, November 2. http://news.gallup.com/poll/197027/ratings-trump-campaign-worst-recent-election-years.aspx.
- Rogers, Matthew. 2017. No Speech from the Donald Trump Animatronic in Walt Disney World’s ‘Hall of Presidents.’ Change.Org, January. http://www.change.org/p/the-walt-disney-company-no-speech-from-the-donald-trump-animatronic-in-walt-disney-world-s-hall-of-presidents.
- Russon, Gabrielle. 2018. Disney: A Scene from Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents on Presidents Day. Orlando Sentinel, February 19. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-donald-trump-disney-presidentshall-of-fame-20180216-story.html.
- Smith, Thomas. 2017. Latest on Enhancements to The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom Park. Disney Parks Blog, June 27. http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2017/06/latest-on-enhancement-to-the-hall-of-presidents-at-magic-kingdom-park/.
- Svonkin, Craig. 2011. A Southern California Boyhood in the Simu-Southland Shadows of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. In Disneyland and Culture: Essays on the Parks and Their Influence, ed. Kathy Merlock Jackson and Mark I. West, 107–121. Jefferson: McFarland and Co.Google Scholar
- “The Hall of Presidents (Magic Kingdom)—Morgan Freeman/Barack Obama Version (2009–Present)”. 2015. Disney Parks Script Central, November 30. www.disneyparkscripts.com/the-hall-of-presidents-magic-kingdom-morgan-freemanbarack-obama-version-2009-present/.
- Thomas, Bob. 2012. Walt Disney: An American Original. Glendale: Disney Editions.Google Scholar
- Vagnini, Steven. n.d. The Hall of Presidents Story. D23. http://d23.com/the-hall-of-presidents-story.
- Van Wert, William F. 1996. Disney World and Posthistory. Cultural Critique 32 (1996–1995): 187–214.Google Scholar
- Wdwmagic. 2017. Donald Trump Audio-Animatronic Figure at the New Hall of Presidents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=150&v=NePlddZpNKs.