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Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is an Audio-Animatronics show at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It first ran at the Illinois State Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair, and was moved to Disneyland's Main Street Opera House in 1965. The attraction went on hiatus in 2005, as the theater hosted Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years, a short documentary about the park starring Steve Martin and Donald Duck. The film was originally intended to run until the end of the Happiest Homecoming on Earth in 2006, but did not close until March 15, 2009. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln returned on December 18, 2009.
In February 2016 the Lincoln Audio-Animatronic malfuctioned which caused the show to stop completely the emergency lights were turned on, plus the projector was turned on the Audio-Animatronic figure.
Mr. Lincoln's speech
The voice actor for Abraham Lincoln was Royal Dano, who bore a close resemblance to him. The speech he recorded consists of excerpts from several speeches given during Lincoln's public career. The show has been edited several times over the years, but contains most of the following:
The world has never had a good definition of the word "liberty”, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word, we do not all mean the same thing.
What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts. These are not our reliance against tyranny. Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.
At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow?
All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years!
At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?
I answer, that if it ever reach us, it must spring from amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be the authors and finishers. As a nation of free men, we must live through all times, or die by suicide.
Let reverence for the law be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in the schools, in the seminaries, and in the colleges. Let it be written in primers, in spelling books and almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And in short, let it become the political religion of the nation. And let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes, and tongues, and colors, and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly at its altar.
And let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that in future national emergencies He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, or frightened from it by menaces of the destruction to the government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might. And in that faith, let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
The Speech was Edited a number of times since 1975.
During the 2001 version the Lincoln animatronic spoke the Gettysburg address, not the speech he had given since the 1964 New York World's Fair.
The Attraction's name in 2001 was changed to: Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln: The Journey to Gettysburg.
The Journey to Gettysburg opened on July 17, 2001 and closed on February 20, 2005
World's Fair attraction
The original version of the attraction opened with the rest of the New York World's Fair on April 22, 1964, as Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The overall theme of the show dealt with inspiration, justice, and the meaning of the United States Constitution.
The pre-show consisted of a film with a depiction of paintings representing Illinois and a soundtrack featuring the Illinois state song with narration by Royal Dano and Disney Legends recipient Paul Frees. Guests then entered the main theater where the curtains opened to reveal an audio-animatronic figure of Abraham Lincoln sitting in a chair. He then stood up and gave a measured, dignified address, lasting 5 minutes and 15 seconds, that was actually a combination of several of his speeches. Royal Dano was also the voice of Lincoln. The show concluded with the curtains opening further to reveal the Rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. An abstract image of the American Flag was revealed behind the Rotunda as a backdrop, and a rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" could be heard.
Lincoln's face was created by sculptor Blaine Gibson (also a Disney Legend) using a copy of a life mask of Lincoln made by Leonard Volk in Chicago in 1860. Lincoln's speech was compiled by James Algar (yet another Disney Legend), who was also the main writer and producer of the show.
The attraction closed at the end of the Fair's first season on October 18, 1964, and reopened for the second and final season from April 21, 1965, to October 17, 1965. At the end of the Fair, the State of Illinois Pavilion was completely demolished. Only valuable cultural artifacts and collections were returned to Illinois or elsewhere around the world. The original audio-animatronic figure of Lincoln was believed to have been lost. For many years, all that remained of the original version of the attraction were the memories of those who saw it, photographs, audio tapes and film recordings. Years later, it was discovered that the original Lincoln figure had been packed in a crate, shipped back to California and mysteriously forgotten for decades. After it was found, it formed the centerpiece of a 2005–2006 traveling exhibit entitled Behind the Magic: 50 Years of Disneyland. The figure was displayed without clothing or skin, except for the iconic head. The packing crate was also exhibited.
The first Disneyland version of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln – named after the World's Fair attraction – opened on July 18, 1965, in honor of the official 10th anniversary of the park, in the new Opera House on Main Street, USA. The show in the main theater with Mr. Lincoln was a duplicate of the World's Fair attraction. The exterior and interiors of the building were given a new theme using Abraham Lincoln and Walt Disney exhibits, displays and films as the attraction was presented by Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, not the state of Illinois. It did not require an "A" through "E" attraction admission ticket. This version of the attraction ended January 1, 1973, along with the sponsorship by Lincoln Savings.
The Walt Disney Story
On April 8, 1973, a different attraction named The Walt Disney Story opened in the Opera House. While the exterior remained the same with the exception of new signage, the interior was redesigned so the exhibits could reflect the history of Walt Disney, The Walt Disney Company, and Disneyland. The main theater looked the same, but the audio-animatronic Abraham Lincoln and other props and set pieces were either removed or remained in place covered by the projection screen that was added to show the tribute film to Walt Disney. The film, which lasted 23 minutes, stitched together archival film and audio footage that appeared to be an autobiography of Walt Disney. A similar version of this attraction also appeared in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort until October 5, 1992.
The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
While The Walt Disney Story was a fitting tribute to Walt Disney, who had died on December 15, 1966, the show received a great deal of public criticism by those who were upset by the removal of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The attraction closed in early 1975 and reopened on June 12, 1975, as The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The motion picture screen in the main theater was removed and the theater was restored to its original form as it had been during Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, including the show itself. However, the entrance, pre-show, post-show, and exit no longer featured exhibits on Abraham Lincoln, but rather Walt Disney. A new, revised film about Walt Disney became the sole pre-show production and the previous 23-minute feature film was eliminated.
The attraction was updated in 1984 with a new version of the pre-show film on Walt Disney and revisions to the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show in the main theater. A new audio-animatronic Abraham Lincoln was created with enhanced movements and facial expressions, new skin, a new costume, and the ability to hold a piece of paper in his hand for his speech. The props and set pieces on the stage were also redressed. The original 1964 World's Fair audio recordings were still used for the narration and speech by Mr. Lincoln, however portions of Lincoln's speech were deleted. Two new songs, "Golden Dream" and "Two Brothers," were added to the production. Both songs came from The American Adventure, a show inside the American Pavilion in Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. "Golden Dream" replaced "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as the song in the finale. This version closed in 2000.
Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln: The Journey To Gettysburg
On July 17, 2001, the attraction was drastically changed to focus on the American Civil War, although it still retained the name The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. In the pre-show, guests were introduced to American Civil War photographerMathew Brady and they assumed the role of a fictitious Union soldier named John Cunningham. They then entered the main theater where they wore special headphones with binaural sound technology. In the show, Cunningham met Brady in his photo studio, received ahaircut, went back to battle and was eventually wounded. He then met President Abraham Lincoln and attended the Gettysburg Addressin person. At this point, the curtains opened to reveal Lincoln standing on the stage to deliver the address. The entire set was redone for this version with little or no reference to the previous versions of the show. The 1984 audio-animatronic Abraham Lincoln remained functionally the same. It was simply refurbished and eyeglasses were added. The voice of Lincoln was provided by Warren Burton and the performance was changed to be the Gettysburg Address instead of the series of emotional speeches used in all previous versions of the show. The narrator for this version was Corey Burton.
Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years
The attraction closed temporarily on February 20, 2005, to make room for Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years. This show had a series of exhibits and a main theater film presented by Steve Martin and an animated Donald Duck. It was part of Disneyland's Happiest Homecoming on Earth 50th anniversary celebration that lasted from May 5, 2005, to September 30, 2006. Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years continued until March 15, 2009. Currently, the film is shown in intervals on a HDTV wide-screen in the gallery outside the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln lobby.
A new room-size model of Disneyland on opening day in 1955 was also added in the lobby.
Mr. Lincoln returned in a new attraction called The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln on December 18, 2009. The previous hydraulic-based audio-animatronic figure was replaced by an electronic autonomatronic figure, which Disney Imagineers say greatly extends Lincoln's emotive capabilities. The new show features an abridged version of his autobiography, the first two sentences from his Gettysburg Address, and the song "Two Brothers" (from Epcot's American pavilion) following the news about the civil war. In the final act, the auto-animatronic Lincoln stands to perform portions of the speech from the original attraction, in which the late Royal Dano once more provides the voice of Lincoln. The script is the same that was used from 1984 to 2001. However, Dano's voice is from a newly discovered recording that is cleaner than the original performance. Also, the song "Golden Dream" is relegated to being the music played as guests exit the attraction. As well, the recording of the song "America the Beautiful" from the Circle-Vision 360° film of the same name, opens the show.
The United States Capitol model, previously displayed as the main lobby exhibit, returned and the prior model of Disneyland on opening day was moved into a tilted up position in a large display case.
The film "Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years" is now shown in the lobby of the Opera House, once the film ends guests are invited to move into the north end of the lobby, and to begin the preshow for "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln".