President Barack Obama will be speaking on tourism tomorrow morning at the Magic Kingdom. Main Street will be closed for park guests from the morning through mid-afternoon. This is not the first time a President has visited Walt Disney World, nor the first time Main Street U.S.A. has been closed to guests as an event has taken place. Former First Lady Hillary Clinton was featured during the 25th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom, as park guests were taken through backstage areas into other park locations (as they will be tomorrow).
* We have been asked about President Reagan and President Nixon's visits, we don't have personal materials/photos from either of those events.
With the current discussion of Presidential visits to Walt Disney World, I asked Jeff if he had any memories or photos of these visits. He had both.
George Bush Sr. may be the last sitting President to make a visit to Walt Disney World. He was there to promote the Points of Light foundation, and to honor the 575 Points of Light that had been chosen up to that point. Part of World Showcase was closed, and at least one large screen was there for guests to watch from. You can read Bush's speech here at the online George Bush Presidential Library and Museum website.
Jeff took this photo of the sign at the American Gardens Theater:
There was very little media actually allowed into the American Gardens Theater at that time, an event that coincided with the 20th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Celebration on 9/30/1991. These official press photos show the American Gardens Theater, which didn't have a roof at the time – along with President George Bush, Michael Eisner, First Lady Barbara Bush, and the 575 Points of Light.
This official press photo shows President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. I have photos I took of them from when I volunteered backstage at the 2000 Republican Convention, just 9 years after this (I can't believe it's been 12 years since 2000!)
George Bush and Michael Eisner in this official press photo:
The remainder of the photos are shot by Jeff.
Guests could watch the speech on a large screen:
Anyone entering into the American Gardens Theater had to go through a metal detector:
Major media outlets were there:
Hillary Clinton was on hand to re-dedicate the Magic Kingdom on October 1st, 1996 (remember when Cinderella Castle was pink?) There was a 1,076 piece marching band – just like opening day, and an "unprecedented gathering of Disney characters, dignitaries, and 1,500 entertainers". Jeff has been working media events for over 20 years, and captured the event on film.
Mickey and Minnie stroll down Main Street:
Michael Eisner spoke, saluting the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. There were 11,000 Disney guests, and 2500 of them were children from the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Hillary Clinton steps to the podium:
Roy E Disney:
A group photo which included former Florida governor Lawton Chiles:
Fireworks over the Cinderella Castle Cake:
Navy Blue Angels flew over Main Street:
The Rose Garden was used for interviews, just as it is now:
The likelihood is that park guests will not see President Obama in person. Back in 1996, video screens were put up in Tomorrowland and Frontierland so that guests could watch the re-dedication. Our local news station said that the speech will be simulcast in the Hall of Presidents, but we don't know if screens will be added around the park.
It's a pretty special experience to have the President of the United States visit the Magic Kingdom. I have been very fortunate to have attended political events through my life, with two that included the sitting President of the United States – it's really an honor, even when it's also an inconvenience. This event came up so quickly that I couldn't get into it as a guest. But even so, it will be be pretty cool to be in the Magic Kingdom – even if it's a bit hectic – as Cinderella Castle becomes the backdrop for the President of the United States as he speaks to the world.
Resort guests tomorrow will have the opportunity to enjoy Extra Magic Hours at Disney's Hollywood Studios or Epcot. There are going to be extra dance parties in the Magic Kingdom as Main Street is closed. And the most anticipated change in tomorrow's schedule is the Rock the Night! Fireworks Spectacular at 7pm at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It is rare to see fireworks at DHS (we did for New Year's Eve), just a few times per year.
The Magic Kingdom should be mostly back to normal by mid-afternoon.