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The Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln: A Disneyland Attraction Review

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 07-19-2013

If you're a Disney fan, one of the highlights of a visit to one of their theme parks is probably the same as mine, which is learning more about the history of Disney.

I adore One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, and we make a beeline for it on every visit we make there, so why on earth it took us so long to make it into the Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, I do not know. However, on our most recent trip, we finally put that right.

The attraction is one of the first things you’ll see after passing underneath the railroad lines at the Disneyland Park. It’s on the right hand side as you enter and, as you look at the building, you’ll probably only really notice the reference to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, as that’s in much larger text than the remainder of the name of the attraction. Having seen it, I can understand why, but I do feel to a certain extent they’re underselling the Disneyland Story aspect.

As soon as you walk in, you’re immediately greeted by superb Disney memorabilia, with one of the beautiful horses from the Griffith Park merry-go-round, along with the actual park bench that Walt sat on when he first came up with the idea of Disneyland. I must admit I felt really moved seeing that, and could just imagine him sitting there, watching his daughters play.

From there, you’re guided through concept drawings for Disneyland to the Disneyland News from opening day, and the dedications for each of the lands. The story then progresses through Disneyland’s growth and development, with the exhibition explaining how Walt and his team of Imagineers worked tirelessly to create new and exciting attractions to continue to bring crowds to the park. By 1959, the iconic e-ticket system was introduced, and I was fascinated to finally lay my eyes on some of those tickets, which to me are the stuff of legend. Another ticket of legend was the one for the press preview in 1955 – I bet that was really an e-ticket event, but of course back then the concept hadn’t yet been invented by Disney.

More concept art, with some models, takes you through the development of the park from then to the modern day, with a look at iconic rides such as Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion.

Just before you move into the section dedicated to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, there’s a film that was put together for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary (am I the only one who’s scared to think that was nearly a decade again now?!) with Steve Martin and Donald Duck. Once again, I was enchanted by this, and particularly some of the attractions at Disneyland that are no longer around today. You just can’t imagine anyone today thinking, "We’ll have some pack mules for people to ride," but that’s exactly what Disneyland once had. It really brought it home to you how much life has changed since the park has been around.

From there, we went into the pre-show area for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and instantly you realize where the statues from inside Epcot's American Adventure Theater came from. It was lovely to be able to wander around, and view them close up, seeing the detail that went into them. I’ve always thought that it’s a shame that they disappear so quickly at the start of the show, as I’d like to study them more – well, now I had that chance!

Something else that needs more studying is the stunning model of the Capitol building. It dominates this area, and it’s the first thing that you notice the second you walk in here. This section explains more about what you can almost call Walt’s obsession with Abraham Lincoln. It certainly sets the scene nicely for what you’re about to see, and explains why this attraction is here.

Just like at One Man’s Dream, they let you know when the next show is starting, and in you go, although the beauty here is that you can easily go back, and browse the exhibition a bit more if you haven’t seen everything, which is something we did.

We were very lucky, and when we saw Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, it was still early in the morning, with most people no doubt heading for the bigger e-ticket attractions, so the theater was pretty quiet, with no more than 20 or 30 of us in there, which made the performance feel all the more special. When it started, I did have a moment of wondering what we were seeing, as I was expecting to see the famous Audio Animatronic figure of Lincoln almost as soon as the show started, but of course, this is Disney, and they always save the best until last, which is what they did here.

Was he worth the wait? You bet he was. The second he stood up to greet the audience, I could just imagine how the first crowds to see this all those years ago must have felt. They must’ve been blown away by the technology they were seeing, as even today, it’s still pretty impressive. My only complaint about the show is that I would have liked to have seen more of Lincoln, as to me, this was the most spectacular part of the show.

Whatever you do, if you’re visiting Disneyland, do not make the mistake that we made on so many occasions of missing this. It’s a real gem, and a complete must-do for any fan of Disney, and of course, as an added bonus, it’s the sort of attraction that won’t have lengthy waits if you’re visiting at a busy time of the year. It’s somewhere I’ll certainly be heading back to, the next time we’re fortunate enough to be in California.

About the Author: Cheryl is the author of the e-book, PassPorter's Walt Disney World for British Holidaymakers, and is the co-author of PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide: For Members and Members-To-Be. Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have travelled around the world, taking in a number of Disney cruises, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani in Hawai'i, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland on the way. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

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Updated 07-19-2013

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