Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is a stage play that features an Audio-Animatronic portrayal of United States President Abraham Lincoln. It has been performed in Disneyland since 1965. It debuted as the centerpiece of the State of Illinois Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The show arrived to Disneyland one year after its debut at the World’s Fair, where it has experienced many adjustments and hiatuses throughout the years. Today, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is a component of the 2009 Disneyland attraction The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
In the 1950s, Walt Disney envisioned a presentation that would pay honor to all U.S. Presidents as part of a proposed extension of Main Street, U.S.A. The technology at the time, however, would not allow for a display on the size that Disney desired, and the Main Street extension project was scrapped (the presidential memorial was ultimately completed as The Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom). Instead, Disney’s Imagineers chose to create a monument to Lincoln, Disney’s childhood hero. In 1962, Robert Moses paid a visit to Disneyland in search of ideas for attractions for the impending World’s Fair. A prototype of the Audio-Animatronic Lincoln piqued Moses’ interest, and Disney decided to develop it. The program debuted on April 22, 1964, at the World’s Fair, and consisted of a pre-show emphasizing the state of Illinois, followed by a theater presentation in which the Audio-Animatronic Lincoln delivered a speech that contained snippets from numerous addresses actually delivered by Lincoln. It was open for the whole 6-month season of both World’s Fairs and closed on October 17, 1965.
On July 18, 1965, a duplicate version of the performance launched at Disneyland during the second season of the World’s Fair. The Walt Disney Story, a biographical film about Walt Disney, replaced the show in 1973. Disneyland was chastised for this decision, and the performance was replaced in 1975 by The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, a mix of the two. The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which debuted in 1975, saw various minor alterations throughout the years before closing in 2000. It was replaced in 2001 with an attraction of the same name, but with an emphasis on the American Civil War. This version closed in 2004, and the attraction was replaced with Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years, a celebration to Disneyland’s 50th anniversary that includes exhibits on Disneyland in the pre-show and post-show areas, as well as a video narrated by Steve Martin, from 2005 to 2009.
The modern attraction includes a pre-show that includes exhibits on the history of Disneyland. The main presentation includes a brief biographical film about Abraham Lincoln as well as an updated version of the original show.
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