It’s the president versus the most powerful media conglomerate in the world – Disney.
Well, maybe not all of Disney, but President Trump’s team is in a bit of a kerfuffle with the organizers of Disney World’s Hall of Presidents attraction.
The Hall of Presidents is currently closed for renovations, meaning they’re adding a President Trump animatronic.
The hassle, apparently, came up when the notion of having robo-Trump speak became an issue.
Other presidential animatronic figures speak, as a way of closing out the show. This began with President Clinton. The actual presidents record short speeches, meant to be non-partisan, hopeful, and in line with what is to be expected at a family theme park.
The closing of President George W. Bush’s speech, for example, as posted at Motherboard goes like this:
“Again and again, we return to the same simple principles: freedom, equality. The freedom to create, to prosper, to dream. Equality before the law, in the workplace, and a chance for a better life. And each time, in the process, America grows stronger. The beacon of democracy grows brighter. The world looks with new astonishment at what free people can do. We the people are just getting started.”
Former President Obama’s ending speech:
“We may come from different places and believe in different things, but what makes us American is a shared spirit—a spirit of courage and determination; of kindness and generosity. It is a spirit grounded in the wisdom of the generations that have gone before us, but open to the unimagined discoveries and possibilities on the horizon that lies ahead. Let us enjoy it, cherish it, defend it, and pass it on to our children as the bright and beautiful blessing it is—this enduring American dream.”
The great part about that is that it came out of a robot, so you don’t get that same look of smug self-importance that you get from watching the real Obama give a speech.
While the presidents, themselves, record the speeches that their robot doubles will be reciting, the writing of the speeches is coordinated between the president’s people and someone with Disney, in order to fit it to the family-friendly, non-politically combustible intent of the show.
In January, when renovations began to make room for a new president, and new addition to the show, there were the expected protests that we’ve all become familiar with, at this point.
Would Trump’s animatronic be speaking, and what would a Trump robot say?
Now, reports from Disney are that the tradition will continue and robo-Trump will speak.
That is, if they can reach an agreement with Trump’s team.
The new attraction was due to open by this Summer, but it is now pushed back to Fall, while they grapple over what will be said.
To be specific, Trump’s team want full control over what is said. They are rejecting the input from the Disney team.
Disney assumed that the transition from Obamabot to Trumpbot would be smooth and seamless. “We’ve already prepared a bust of President-elect Trump to go into our Hall of the Presidents at Disney World,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a call with Wall Street analysts last November. But instead, according to a source close to Magic Kingdom management, the Trump communications team has been combative and obstinate, upsetting an established process that three prior presidential administrations found amenable.
“When Disney tried to get this process started earlier this year,” said the source in an email to Motherboard, “Trump’s people said, ‘We’ll be writing the speech that the President’s Audio-Animatronic figure will be saying.'”
This really should have been a simple process. They’ve done beautifully with past presidents, but Trump’s gonna Trump, I suppose.
“The Imagineers [the researchers and developers behind Disney’s theme park attractions] tried to point out that they’re typically involved with this process,” continued the source. “That they directly collaborated with Clinton, Bush, and Obama’s people when it came to figuring out what the President’s Audio-Animatronic figure would say. Trump’s people said, ‘No. We’re writing this speech. You guys have no input on this.'”
When you come across as more arrogant than Obama, you’ve really achieved expert-level hubris.
There has been talk of going back to a format where only President Lincoln speaks at the end of the show, and letting none of the more recent presidents speak.
And while the company goes back and forth with Trump’s team, their biggest fear is the alt-right horde.
“They’d particularly like to avoid him tweeting about this situation,” added the source. “It would most likely result in a call for conservatives to boycott Walt Disney World, which is the company’s biggest fear.”
“Disney officials are bending over backwards in an effort not to be seen as disrespectful towards President Trump,” said the source.
And they shouldn’t have that fear. They’re not being unreasonable by asking Trump to adhere to the same protocol that has been in place since Bill Clinton’s presidency.
But we know we’re in far different times, now, aren’t we?