Every time a new American president is elected, the Disney company shuts down its Hall of Presidents attraction in order to add a new animatronic figure to the show. This year the resistance made sure that things weren’t business as usual. A petition was started as soon as the attraction closed to ensure that the new figure representing President Trump would not be allowed to speak.
Monday we learned that, despite partisan efforts to silence him, the president’s animatronic doppelganger will get a speaking role in the show, just like previous presidents. But according to one source who spoke to Vice, the process of installing the Trump-bot was delayed by disagreement over who would write Trump’s speech:
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.'”
According to the source, shutting out the Disney Imagineers made the process slow and difficult, but it sounds like some inside the company also hoped they could avoid giving the president his moment:
“There are those at Imagineering who hope that if they hold off on doing anything with this attraction until the fall, Trump may have done something so egregious that the general public won’t have an issue with putting a non-talking version of [Trump] in The Hall of Presidents,” said the source.
That’s exactly like what I imagine Disney “Imagineers” to be like, i.e. progressive partisans looking for an excuse to do what they are already inclined to do. But according to Vice’s unnamed source, Disney has been able to reach an agreement with the White House and the recording of Trump’s speech will go forward.
Vice’s source says the Disney Imagineers have been trying to avoid the president, “tweeting about this situation.” They are concerned that if he does, “It would most likely result in a call for conservatives to boycott Walt Disney World.” Frankly, I think that is what would happen if the company had decided to treat Trump differently than it treated past presidents. Since that hasn’t happened, I think they are probably in the clear, at least from the right.
What the Imagineers really ought to be worried about is the inevitable backlash from the left. Having been thwarted in their attempts to silence Trump once, it’s possible they will try again. And we’ve all seen how the left employs the heckler’s veto to shout down anyone they disagree with. Could we see protests outside the attraction? Hecklers inside the attraction? Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got up on stage during the show to berate Trump during his speech or even damage the figure. After all, many on the left embrace vandalism as a method of social change. Why should this be any different?
Update: Vice has retracted the story I quoted above. In its place is a note which reads:
After a thorough investigation into the sourcing of two stories, “Here’s the Secret Backstage Trump Drama at Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents” and “Behind the Scenes of Disney’s Donald Trump ‘Hall of Presidents’ Installation”, and the identification of several factual errors, we have decided to retract both pieces. We are conducting a full editorial review to pinpoint how this source was vetted, and how these stories were approved and published in violation of our usual editorial workflow. We fell short of our standards, and regret the error.
Was the claim that Disney considered not having Trump speak the factual error? Or was the claim that the White House was being difficult the factual error? There was a petition to stop Trump’s figure from speaking. Trump’s figure will be speaking anyway. Was there a dispute or delay caused by disagreement over who would write the speech? I guess we don’t know if that’s true.