This is the last part of my adventure that will occur in the Disneyland park for a while, but not the last part of the Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland, and like last week’s adventure, this one is a return of a beloved classic.
The original Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln opened with it’s a small world and the Carousel of Progress at the 1964-1965 Worlds Fair in New York and was moved to Disneyland when the fair closed in 1965 where it sat in the Main Street Opera house until 1973 when it was replaced by the Walt Disney Story. Guests did not like seeing Mr. Lincoln go away, so in 1975 the Walt Disney Story re-opened as the Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The show remained the same until 1984 when a new Lincoln audio-animatronic was created that was more lifelike and the show was changed around a little bit to add some content from the then relatively new American Adventure show at EPCOT Center.
The show continued to be a popular one until the late 90′s/early 2000′s, so Disney decided to completely overhaul the attraction and make it fresh. Unfortunately, the team that worked on this new version of Great Moments must have looked at what happened to Journey into Imagination when it got it’s overhaul and thought that it was a great idea. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln opened with a brand new binaural audio section at the beginning and shifted it’s focus to the Civil War. This sounds okay on paper, right? Sure it does, until you realize that the show should be renamed Great Moments Getting a Shave. The show created a fictional character that guests followed as he developed pictures, got a shave, went to war, left war because he got shot, and went to see Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address. This version of the attraction focused more on the then relatively new binaural audio technology and less on Lincoln and his role in the show was cut down drastically due to the shorter length of the Gettysburg Address compared to Lincoln’s old speech. Needless to say, people were not pleased.
Luckily, this version of the attraction did not last long. When Disneyland celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary in 2005, the Main Street Opera House opened it’s first completely new show since 1973: Disneyland: the First 50 Magical Years. This was a great attraction (and still mostly exists there today) and replaced the Lincoln show with a short documentary on Disneyland hosted by Steve Martin and Donald Duck. The show was interesting, the movie was funny, and both the show and the movie were educational. In 2009, Lincoln returned to the Opera House in a new version of the attraction called the Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
I had never seen Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln as the first time I came to Disneyland was in 2004 when the attraction was being converted over to the Disneyland: the First 50 Magical Years, but I must say that I am glad that my first experience with Mr. Lincoln was this one. This new version of the attraction is a bit of a combination of the 1984 and 2001 version. It features the same script for Lincoln as was in the 1984 version as well as some of the biography found in that show (albeit a shorter version than what could be seen in 1984) and also featured some of the Civil War content from the 2001 version, but none of the stupid binaural audio. The real star of the show here is the brand new Lincoln audio-animatronic. The new figure runs all on electronics rather than the hydraulics in the old figure and has some of the smoothest movements out of any of the audio-animatronics I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot) and can be one of the most scarily expressive ones in existence. This new Lincoln is obscenely life-like and managed to somehow stay out of the uncanny-valley so I was already geeking out about the animatronic when I first saw it, but when he stood up I freaking lost it. The Lincoln animatronic is absolutely amazing and I am very excited to see how this new breed of audio-animatronic will be used in the future.