Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is known for many major attractions. This includes the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the spooky Haunted Mansion , and simple joys like watching fireworks over the castle at night.
One of the quainter experiences, though, is Disney’s Hall of Presidents in the Liberty Square section of the Magic Kingdom. In this hall, Disney has meticulously created animatronic copies of all the presidents of the United States.
Recently, Disney unveiled the animatronic for President Joe Biden. But this “likeness” has many people alternating between horrified and amused. So what’s the deal with the Biden animatronic and its recent controversies? Keep reading to discover the full story!
Biden’s animatronic compared to Jim Carrey
In the leadup to the 2020 election, audiences were subjected to a seemingly endless array of Saturday Night Live political skits. And the show ended up tapping some big celebrity names, including having Jim Carrey portray Joe Biden for six episodes.
It is obvious that Carrey’s portrayal left a major impression on audiences. That is because, on social media, many immediately made the claim that Disney based their new Biden animatronic on Jim Carrey instead! “It’s like a Jim Carey [sic] doing Biden statue,” one user said.
This is nothing that Disney would ever admit to. Although you can decide for yourself.
Or is it Anderson Cooper?
While most people saw Jim Carey’s portrayal of Joe Biden, a few others thought the animatronic resembled something else. A popular theory was that it looks like “an aged Anderson Cooper.” Another user thought it looked like a weird combination of Joe Biden and George W. Bush. And, hilariously, one user thought that this animatronic would have made a better Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars rather than President Biden.
Some users have begun to ask if the standards for Disney are simply tumbling down in the long history of the Hall of Presidents. The animatronic for President Donald Trump also faced likeness criticisms.
Was Trump’s animatronic converted from a Hillary Clinton design?
Donald Trump’s animatronic in the Hall of Presidents had to be moved recently. After all, he took up a place of prominence when Trump was president. But since he lost the 2020 election, the Trump animatronic had to be moved to make way for the new President Biden display.
However, moving Trump’s animatronic isn’t what caused the controversies surrounding this creation. The simple fact is that the animatronic looks nothing like Donald Trump at all!
The attempted likeness is so bad that it spawned a conspiracy theory. Looking at the hair on Trump’s robot, many believe that Disney assumed Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election. And when Donald Trump lost, they had to suddenly convert the Clinton likeness to a Donald Trump likeness, leaving us with the horrific animatronic that is there today.
There is no way to prove or disprove this theory. Interestingly, though, the bad quality of the new Biden animatronic may be a blow against the conspiracy. The bland reality may be that the modern animatronic artists are just that bad!
Declining animatronic quality?
So, is the Disney animatronic quality actually declining? Frustratingly, the answer is both “yes” and “no.”
When you look at an image of the animatronic next to who it is supposed to represent, the likenesses seem bad. Especially for Biden and Trump. But part of what your brain is also struggling with is your perception of the Uncanny Valley.
Basically, the “Uncanny Valley” is the theory that the more realistic a recreation of a person looks, the weirder it can make us feel. It’s one of the reasons you might feel so strange when you scope out the wax models at Madame Tussaud’s, which are generally very good likenesses.
So, Disney’s artists and engineers are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. If they create a bad likeness, they get dragged by critics. But if they created a perfect likeness, the entire thing would still feel like a much scarier trip than any visit to the Haunted Mansion!
Still, it is surprising to see the declining quality of their animatronic likenesses after President Obama’s animatronic set a new standard for realness!
History of Disney’s Hall of Presidents
Disney’s Hall of Presidents opened way back in 1971. While the animatronics are the main attraction, this experience consists of various multimedia presentations. You get to watch a short film and then see various animatronics deliver portions of famous presidential speeches.
Obviously, the Hall of Presidents needs to be periodically updated once we have a new president. And longtime Disneygoers have watched the animatronic process grow and evolve over time. For example, the animatronic likeness of President Barack Obama ended up making history.
Obama’s animatronic set a new standard
There have been controversies recently about the animatronic likenesses of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump. However, there wasn’t much controversy when Disney unveiled the animatronic of President Barack Obama back in 2009.
In fact, the public was generally impressed by Disney’s updated technology. Compared to previous animatronics, the “Robobama” (their nickname for the animatronic) had more realistic silicone skin. And engineering improvements meant that his facial muscles and mouth moved much more realistically.
The Obama animatronic is so good, in fact, that it sets a standard for their future work. And the sad truth is that the animatronics of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump fall very short of that standard.