July 1965 – present
Walt originally envisioned an extension of Main Street with an animatronic attraction paying tribute to all of the presidents of the United States. Unfortunately, Walt’s idea was ahead of its time, and the project had to be scaled down considerably to match available animatronic technology. As a result, Imagineers decided to focus on one president. Walt picked his childhood hero, Abraham Lincoln.
The show made its debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, like It’s A Small World had two years prior. Lincoln was an immediate hit, and guests were amazed by how lifelike the animatronic was. After his successful run in New York, the president moved west to his permanent home on Main Street in July 1965, and has been a park fixture ever since.
- Single Rider Line – no
- Fast Pass – no
- Height Requirement – none
- Duration – 15:00
The Lincoln experience begins in the foyer, where guests can view a model of the Capitol Building and the Lincoln portraits. Once the theater doors open, a projection screen drops down to present a short film introducing the life and presidency of Lincoln. Finally, the curtain pulls back and President Lincoln stands to deliver an impassioned speech, which is a mixture of several real speeches delivered during his presidency. The show ends with the song “Golden Dreams”, and Mr. Lincoln once again disappears behind the curtain.
MY RATING: ★★★★☆
Too many Disneyland visitors overlook this show, and Mr. Lincoln sadly goes very much underappreciated. The animatronic is unbelievably lifelike, and the show is engaging whether you’re a civil war history buff or know nothing about the time period. If you get the chance, take a moment to visit with Mr. Lincoln; you’ll be amazed to watch history come to life.
Unless you’re visiting on a day with major crowds, there’s no good or bad time to visit Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. I personally like to stop at the theater in the late afternoon, just because I think Main Street USA is gorgeous at that time of day.
Note: The Lincoln show tends to go dark periodically for no official reason. If that’s the case during your trip, stop by in a few hours (or worst case, the next day) and the theater will most likely be back up and running.
Walt’s original ideas for an extension of Main Street and a larger presidential show both became reality, just not in Disneyland. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has Liberty Square, a colonial street Walt envisioned for Disneyland back in the 50’s, and its headline attraction is the Hall of Presidents.
Late actor Royal Dano provided the voice for Lincoln. In 2001, Disney found a forgotten recording for the show that was actually much clearer than the original version, and the newly discovered recording has been used ever since.
Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln has had several long hiatuses to make room for shows about park history, but it never officially closed and left the park.
Imagineers upgraded Lincoln’s animatronics in 2009. Lincoln originally used a hydraulic-based system, and now operates using high tech electronic sensors controlled by a high speed computer (called autonomatronics). When he was upgraded, Lincoln became the first autonomatronic human in the world.