For President's Day, we thought it would be fun to share an excerpt from a public program that Disney Legend Bob Gurr presented last year, on the designing and building of the Audio-Animatronic Mr. Lincoln.
In 1962, Robert Moses, head of the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair, visited Walt's Burbank Studios. Walt gave Robert a behind-the-scenes tour that included W.E.D. Afterwards, Robert asked Walt to design a number of the sponsored exhibits for the Fair. One that Robert had in mind was for the State of Illinois Pavilion. The exhibit would focus on President Abraham Lincoln. Walt, who had always admired the sixteenth president, readily agreed.
It was up to the Imagineers of W.E.D. to bring Mr. Lincoln to life in less than two years. After a number of fitful starts and stops, Walt asked Bob Gurr to get involved:
Despite all of the problems designing the Audio-Animatronics, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was one of the many hits that Walt and his team created for the Fair. Other exhibits included It's a Small World, Progressland, and Magic Skyway. All of the Audio-Animatronic exhibits were so successful at the Fair, that Walt made plans to incorporate them into Disneyland after the Fair closed. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln opened at Disneyland on July 18, 1965, while the original exhibit continued drawing crowds at the Fair.