Rumors are again circulating about the demise of one of Disneyland’s most cherished, but least visited, attractions. Yes. The eyes of park management have turned once more toward Great Moments with Mr Lincoln and this time the famous attration’s fate may already be sealed.
What is known is that current announced plans for the celebration surrounding the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland call for Mr Lincoln to take a hiatus for the length of the celebration. Part of what’s leading to the rumors is that ever since Light Magic, The Keel Boats, and the Submarine Voyage (despite Marty Sklar’s famous speed bump on Harbor Blvd speach) all went on ‘hiatus’ and never came back, hiatus has become a Disney codeword for ‘sent out to pasture’ aka retired. Needless to say this revelation is causing the bunching of many a panty.
Mr Lincoln is a hardy audio-animatronic. He’s already survived at least two attempts at corporate assassignation. First, in the late 1980s Cast Members and Annual Passholders rallied to his defense with petitions and letters to management. All this without the Internet to help too (how did they manage?). Then in 1997 the current park president, Paul Pressler (now returned to retail world of The Gap from whence he came and is ultimately suited for), was seen waltzing around the Opera House musing openly about closing or shrinking the theatre and putting in a new collectibles store. The potential closing spread faster with the aid of the internet until it too was quickly squashed by the weight of letters and phone calls from angry cast members and annual passholders.
Finally in 2001 The Walt Disney Story featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln did close, but this time only for refurbishment. As it turns out the refurbishment included a major reworking of the story, a new figure, and a new Walt Disney Story attraction as well. On July 17th 2001, the attraction reopened to mixed reviews and to this day the attendance figures have never improved to the level that management apparently desires. So when on May 5th 2004 the announcement was made that a Disneyland History exhibit would temporary overtake the Opera House and Lincoln Theatre for the 50th Anniversary, hardly a peep was heard on the many internet web sites and discussion boards that follow the goings on at Disneyland.
Time has past and the realization is setting in that Mr Lincoln’s Hiatus may be earn it a permanent spot in Yesterland. The new show has never taken off and management would rather spend money sprucing up the place for the big birthday bash than trying yet another make over of the famous figure. In fact the money wasn’t even there to place the history exhibit in Tomorrowland (either in Innoventions or the Starcade area).
With the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth coming up in 2009, it would be a real shame to see this wonderful tribute to the man, and all that he stood for, forgotten. Instead, I am hoping the new park administration will see the error of evicting Honest Abe and instead invest in his future with a new show that is closer to the original exhibit that was shown in 1964. If you have to turn the exit queue into an exhibit hall, turn it into a moving tribute to Mr. Lincoln and what he stood for. There are 159 other acres upon which to celebrate Disneyland’s 50th. There is a huge plaza that would easily fit a semi-permanent structure (much like the DCA preview tent) to honor Disneyland Resort. Alternatively, such a structure could be built where the festival arena once stood. Using resources allocated for a future show building to house the display. Much like the Millenium Village of EPCOT has found additional uses. It will just take a little creative thought from management.
What can you do, you ask. Your best bet would be to write a letter, put a stamp on it, and send it to Disneyland. Be polite but firm in asking them to fix Mr Lincoln instead of removing him.
1313 Harbor Blvd.
P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, CA 92803-6161
Consider this a pre-emptive strike. They’re so in vogue these days anyway.