Hall of Presidents Previews Today

donsullivan

Premium Member
Original Poster
Well, after a Twitter tip from our illustrious Webmaster earlier today I headed over the to the Magic Kingdom to see if I might get a chance to see a preview of the rehabbed Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square. Well, lo-and-behold I managed to get in twice this afternoon to see the show.

They are still in 'test-and-adjust' stage so there is still all sorts of control and sound management equipment all over the theater. The main sound control board is in the middle of the theater so they have a bunch of rows blocked off and spend the whole load period alerting folks to watch out for the cables all over the floor.

The name of the show has been changed to
The Hall of Presidents
A Celebration of Liberty's Leaders


Lobby
Overall the lobby is essentially the same with new carpet and paint. There are two new display cases one off to the right as you come in has various artifacts from presidents and another over to the left with dresses from 3 first lady's. Much of this has been detailed in the articles in newspapers lately.

Security
Because they are in 'test-and-adjust' they were a little obsessive about no photos and had a couple of security guards as well as a dozen or so cast members roaming the lobby during the pre-show wait.

Theater
Other than all of the installation equipment that is still there as defined above the theater looks essentially the same as it was before with some minor adjustments. I don't remember there being handicapped parking at the top of the theater in the past so I think that's new. It's filled up with Imagineers and their stuff now but there appears to be a walled row across the back where mobility impaired vehicles/chairs can be parked without having to go down the sloping floor and try to get back up again.

The seating structure and pattern is essentially the same with apparent refresh of the cushions and chair backs and carpeting. The curtain is a shinier blue than I remember before but other than that it feels quite the same aesthetically as before.

Show
This is where the substantial changes begin and I'll say right here that all of this is my opinion of the show and the reactions I heard during the 2 performances I enjoyed today; your opinions may vary but hopefully this dialog can stay focused on the show experience and not drift off topic.

Morgan Freeman was a great choice as the narrator of this edition of the show and he lends the appropriate air of dignity for such a performance.

The story-line is much less a history lesson than previous versions have been and focuses more on the presidents themselves. A lot of the same artwork that has been seen in various editions has been reused but there were also a lot of new portraits (at least for this show)

It highlights a subset of presidents during the course of the film section including Washington, Andrew Johnson and then the drama really gets started when they get to Lincoln. They use re-edits of the same imagery from the last edition of the show in a shortened version with the same audio overlay of Lincoln in the White House and then the center screen lifts and there is a blue curtain behind and as the lights come up you see an AA of Abraham Lincoln. The blue curtain comes in the from the sides and wraps around behind Lincoln. At that point he stands and recites the entire Gettysburg address. The movement and smoothness of the AA is absolutely amazing with very broad gestures and the most subtle of movement.

The story line continues to the recovery after the Civil war and the two Roosevelt's and up to Kennedy during the movie portion of things most of which was in still photos. After Kennedy it bridges into some film of milestone moments of the recent presidents including Reagan's speach after the Challenger disaster, Clinton at the Oklahoma City bombing memorial service and George W Bush's "I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you" on the bullhorn at the World Trade Center after 9/11.

The film portion ends as before with a shuttle launch as the screens open up and the roll call of presidents begins. Many of them have been moved around from before so you don't feel like you're watching a tennis match as they go through the roll call. The movements on a number of the AA's seems to be enhanced from what it was. They stop the roll call at George W Bush and then George Washington stands from his chair and begins a speach which transitions into his making reference to the oath of office and and then hands off to Obama taking the oath (a re-recording done in the White House) and he bridges into a speach that was also recorded at the White House for this show.

The final sequence that used to have clouds in the background slowly forming into a flag now transitions to video of a waving flag across the rear projection screen behind the capital dome.

My Impressions
I think they've done a fantastic job on the rewrite and staging of the show. I've never had a problem with any of the narrators but Morgan Freeman is certainly a great choice. The pacing is quite good and I really like changing the story line to focus on the presidents and less on general American History which is done so well by American Adventure at Epcot. All of the AA's are great but Lincoln, Washington and Obama are especially amazing achievements. I think the overall highlight for me was Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

The guests at both shows seemed to very much enjoy it and the reaction and applause was very positive.

Those are my thoughts at least.
 

uglybug2005

New Member
The voice of Lincoln in this version of the show is remastered from the archival tracks recorded by Royal Dano for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. There was apparently debate over whether that would be the best choice/whether the sound quality would fit, but I think they made the right choice by using it. The pre-show area clearly has a bit more work left, as there were still some blank walls, but one improvement is the removal of the turnstiles, which will allow all Guests, regardless of their physical situation, to enter and exit easily. Also, a wireless microphone was added for the Cast Member in the pre-show area, who is no longer teathered to the wall. This is an improvement borrowed from Mickey's PhilharMagic, where the theater spieler can move about while encouraging guests to "move all the way down" the rows. Bob Iger and Jay Rasulo were both present for the 5pm show along with Phil Holmes. The only major change that was not apparent is the new mainstream entry procedure for Guests with disabilities. Because the back row was filled with technical equipment and members of the creative team, those Guests had to enter following the old procedure, which had them entering through the exit prior to the rest of the Guests. When the show officially opens, they will enter through the main doors with all other Guests.
 

Chevross

Active Member
I'll be there July 5th, I believe that's the day after opening. Good info though and I'm starting to get a bit excited to see the "presidents."
 

JerseySkiddie

New Member
Thanks so much for your review and the info! It sounds like some interesting changes and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in December. I may make you watch it about 5 times!

I wonder why they went with so many somber events (Oklahoma City, 9/11)? Was there narration about Presidents overcoming such events?

Does it focus on the office of the Presidency and how it shapes the man or how the man shaped the office?

I obviously haven't heard it yet but I agree that Morgan Freeman was a great choice.

Thanks again!
 

donsullivan

Premium Member
Original Poster
.......I wonder why they went with so many somber events (Oklahoma City, 9/11)? Was there narration about Presidents overcoming such events?.....

The lead in to that sequence which started with LBJ's speach after Kennedy's death is.

"It has always been the role of the presidents to remind us of our roots, to call us to the future. In their best moments they speak words that are already there in our hearts, especially in times of tragedy."
 

Walter Yensid

Active Member
The voice of Lincoln in this version of the show is remastered from the archival tracks recorded by Royal Dano for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. There was apparently debate over whether that would be the best choice/whether the sound quality would fit, but I think they made the right choice by using it. The pre-show area clearly has a bit more work left, as there were still some blank walls, but one improvement is the removal of the turnstiles, which will allow all Guests, regardless of their physical situation, to enter and exit easily. Also, a wireless microphone was added for the Cast Member in the pre-show area, who is no longer teathered to the wall. This is an improvement borrowed from Mickey's PhilharMagic, where the theater spieler can move about while encouraging guests to "move all the way down" the rows. Bob Iger and Jay Rasulo were both present for the 5pm show along with Phil Holmes. The only major change that was not apparent is the new mainstream entry procedure for Guests with disabilities. Because the back row was filled with technical equipment and members of the creative team, those Guests had to enter following the old procedure, which had them entering through the exit prior to the rest of the Guests. When the show officially opens, they will enter through the main doors with all other Guests.

Happy to hear Iger was there. Shows he cares about this refurbishment. To have the CEO make his way to a refurbishment and not just the opening of a new ride shows its importance.

Great to hear all the positive words. And I am so happy to hear it has its own sign (even if not unveiled yet). I mean, the planter sign was kind of a joke. It deserved more of a presence and visible notice.

Looking forward to seeing it soon. Few weeks...
 

Animaniac93-98

Well-Known Member
Great to hear all the positive words. And I am so happy to hear it has its own sign (even if not unveiled yet). I mean, the planter sign was kind of a joke. It deserved more of a presence and visible notice.

So long as it's not tacky like the newer signs for Peter Pan's Flight, MILF, SGE, It's a Samll World, Pooh, UNM etc. Some of the understated signs are the nicer ones in the park. However, given the space for the new one and the care of the refurb, I'm sure it will be nice.
 

unkadug

Follower of "Saget"The Cult
Thanks for the review! :wave:

I think HoP will be the first thing I run to in August. :D

That's good to hear. Quite the change from the past, when people went to it only because they needed a nap.

Now they just need to remove the HoP closing slur from The Enchanted Tiki Room.
 

donsullivan

Premium Member
Original Poster
So long as it's not tacky like the newer signs for Peter Pan's Flight, MILF, SGE, It's a Samll World, Pooh, UNM etc. Some of the understated signs are the nicer ones in the park. However, given the space for the new one and the care of the refurb, I'm sure it will be nice.

Here is a quick pic taken this afternoon of one of the signs that's already done. if it's an indication of what the larger one (visible in blue behind) will be, I think we'll be happy with it.

HoP-Sign.jpg
 

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