President Donald Trump is a proven showbiz pro whose stage presence often seems larger than life, whether he’s sharing a spotlight with Miss Universe, Marco Rubio or Omarosa Manigault Newman.
But how will Trump match up against Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Martin Van Buren?
The world will soon know. The president will make his animatronic debut Tuesday at the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando.
On Monday, Disney fan site WDWMagic.com leaked a preview of the footage. It shows the animatronic Trump in true-to-life details – corn-silk hair, gyrating hands and a tie dangling below his belt. He stands across a table from Abraham Lincoln. George Washington introduces Trump when it is his turn in the performance to address the audience with the oath of office.
The animatronic Trump also bears an striking resemblance to actor Jon Voight, according to numerous people on Twitter.
Since January, Disney World’s Hall of Presidents has been shuttered as the park’s team retooled the popular Liberty Square attraction to include the 45th president.
Over the past months, delays in the opening have kicked up rumors and controversy over Trump’s role in the attraction. But when the lights go up Tuesday, the revamped exhibit will feature a life-size robo-version of the current officeholder in a key speaking role, according to a blog post from Thomas Smith, the editorial content director of Disney Parks.
Crowds first started visiting the Hall of Presidents at the park in 1971, the New York Times reported this week. Since 1993, the park’s research and development arm, Walt Disney Imagineering, has worked closely with the sitting administration to produce close replicas of the current president, including recording special vocal tracks for the 25-minute show.
As with other ceremonial hallmarks of the modern presidency such as turkey pardons and addresses to the National Scout Jamboree, Trump’s induction into the Hall of Presidents has been anything but business as usual.
Six months ago, a change.org petition was launched to stop an animatronic Trump from having a speaking part in the Hall of Presidents program.
“Donald Trump ran a Presidential campaign on hateful speech, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. In doing so, he has tainted the legacy of the American Presidency forever,” the petition stated. “The Magic Kingdom at Disney World is a place specifically designed for the enjoyment of children and families. Therefore, it is not an appropriate place for a Donald Trump speech. We ask that Walt Disney World take a stand against divisive and hurtful rhetoric.”
The petition had more than 15,100 signatures.
The persistent delays in the attraction’s reopening prompted rumors the park was struggling with how to integrate a robo Trump into the show – so much so Disney officials were forced to respond to the controversy.
“Despite some media reports to the contrary, President Trump will have a speaking role in The Hall of Presidents, like every president since 1993,” Smith, the Disney Parks editorial content director, wrote in a blog post last June. “We have been working closely with the current White House – just as we have with previous administrations – and the president’s recording session has been scheduled. The attraction will re-open in late 2017.”
In the new program, the Trump bot keeps his message family-friendly, according to the preview footage.
“Above all, to be American is to be an optimist – to believe that we can always do better – and that the best days of our great nation are still ahead of us,” he says.
Josh Billinson tweeted “every robot in the hall of presidents looks like they were designed by a guy who lost his glasses and had to fill in all the details by memory”
Josh Fruhlinger tweeted “this is just a Jon Voight robot with a different hairpiece”