Mr Lincoln finally returns to Disneyland

Since I was one of those who fairly laid into Disneyland for not immediately bringing back Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln at the end of the 50th Anniversary celebration, I’m obligated to report that the park has finally brought the show back. I’ve not seen it myself, but many who have report that the attraction has been returned to its former glory (well, for the most part).

The chief complaint is that the new facial technology brings the audio-animatronic figure too close to the uncanny valley. This new form of hybrid figure has facial movements controlled via electronics and body movements controlled the old fashioned hydrolic way. Apparently Tony Baxter says that all AA’s will be hybrids going forward. Have you see it, let us know what you think in the comments below.

More details on the new show below the jump. Also visit LaughingPlace.com’s coverage of the re-opening.

President Abraham Lincoln returns to the Main Street Opera House in Disneyland with stunning new Audio-Animatronics technology that makes this the most lifelike and expressive Lincoln figure yet.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, a beloved Disneyland attraction for nearly 45 years and a historic landmark in the development of Audio-Animatronics technology, reopens Dec. 18 on Main Street, U.S.A. with the new Lincoln figure and an enriched presentation that combines the best elements of the park’s original 1965 show and the most advanced technical enhancements. (The show first opened at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.)
The new Abraham Lincoln figure represents several major milestones for Audio-Animatronics figures.  The fully electric head – a first for human Disney Audio-Animatronics figures, which are traditionally hydraulically operated – is based on an all-new sculpt that is more lifelike than in previous versions of the show.  With an expanded range of facial movement, Lincoln is more expressive than ever.  He can purse his lips, form an “O” with his lips, smile, grimace and use his eyebrows to enhance his emotions.

The state-of-the-art figure of the 16th president of the United States will take the stage of the Main Street Opera House to deliver a speech composed of highlights from speeches made by Lincoln during his lifetime.  (Walt Disney himself selected the highlights first included in the attraction.)  The original readings by the late actor Royal Dano, recorded in the early 1960s, have been preserved and made sharper using digital technology, as has the original host narration by Paul Frees (a talented voice actor who also can be heard in the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean attractions).
Frees’ narration includes passages never heard in past Great Moments with Mr. Lincolnpresentations.  Thanks to the latest Audio-Animatronics technology, Lincoln also will appear more lifelike than ever before as he rises from his chair and speaks.
Upon entering the Main Street Opera House, guests encounter a redesigned lobby, including both The Disneyland Story an entertaining display of the past, present and future of Disneyland – and a separate presentation of items relating to Abraham Lincoln’s life and work.  In the auditorium, guests will first view an onscreen program about Lincoln and the Civil War that features digitally enhanced versions of pictures and sound created for past versions of the show along with new material.  Next, Lincoln takes the stage to deliver his speech.  When the 15-minute show concludes, guests exit through a gallery depicting notable Americans who have followed in Lincoln’s footsteps and continue to inspire others in areas such as perseverance, innovation and imagination.
For the 2009 version of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, guests will enter the pre-show through the Main Street Opera House.  The pre-show includes a bronze replica of the original 1964 sculpt of Lincoln’s head, created for the first Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln by Disney Legend Blaine Gibson.
In the auditorium, guests will see the most lifelike and expressive Lincoln figure yet. Walt Disney Imagineers have provided the 16th President with the very latest in Audio-Animatronics technology and surrounded him with a presentation that preserves and enriches many elements of the original 1964 show.
Lincoln’s words in previous versions of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (except the 2001 update) were recorded in the early 1960s by actor Royal Dano. For the latest show, a new delivery of the speech was assembled using the original Royal Dano recordings now augmented by the latest audio technology.
Royal Dano had previously portrayed Lincoln on television in “Mr. Lincoln,” a five-part series on the “Omnibus” dramatic anthology show.  A portion of “Mr. Lincoln” is now screened in the pre-show area outside the entrance to the auditorium of the Main Street Opera House.
Hutch Dano, who plays Zeke in the Disney Channel series “Zeke and Luther,” is the grandson of Royal Dano.
Another familiar voice in the new Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is the narrator, Paul Frees.  Frees was known for his extensive voice work in cartoons, radio and commercials.  His is the voice of the “Ghost Host” in the Haunted Mansion and several buccaneers in Pirates of the Caribbean.  His original Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln voice recordings, like those of Royal Dano, have been preserved and enhanced with modern audio technology for the new show.  Guests will also hear narration by Frees that was never before heard outside of The Walt Disney Company.
Before Mr. Lincoln appears on the stage, guests will now view a historical presentation presented in digital video. Many of the sounds and images are preserved from the original show, enhanced with digital technology. These include artwork created for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in the 1960s by Disney Imagineers Sam McKim and Herb Ryman, and by Oscar-winning art director John DeCuir.  Guests will see these pieces presented as never before, in high-definition digital video.
The historical presentation also includes new, specially commissioned artwork by animator John Pomeroy (“Pocahontas”).  It’s a Civil War painting that draws on Pomeroy’s expertise as a Civil War history buff.  The artwork is also on display in the pre-show lobby.
Music from the new Lincoln show includes classic versions of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the Civil War ballad “Two Brothers” from the 1984 Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show, along with “America the Beautiful,” from the Disneyland
Circle-Vision film of the same name, and “Golden Dream” from the American Adventure attraction in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.
As guests exit the auditorium, following the President’s stirring discourse, they will pass through a gallery of distinguished Americans, a tribute to individuals representing the Spirits of America in these categories: Achievement, Celebration, Giving, Imagination, Inspiration, Perseverance and Tolerance.

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