The Dec. 7 fundraiser being held by Florida Republicans at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort will be President Donald Trump’s first visit to Disney World as commander-in-chief.
But presidents have made a habit of visiting Disney World since the resort opened in 1971.
The first such appearance by a sitting president is also the most historically significant. President Richard Nixon, his administration already engulfed in the Watergate scandal, came to the Contemporary Resort on Nov. 17, 1973 to speak to the annual conference of managing editors for the Associated Press. During a televised Q&A, he delivered one of the most famous quotes ever uttered by a U.S. president:
“I made my mistakes, but in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service — I earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I could say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got.”
Eight months later, Nixon resigned.
Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford, did not visit Disney World while in office, but all six presidents since then did.
Jimmy Carter came to the Magic Kingdom in 1978, speaking from a podium decked out with flowered for the 26th World Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Ronald Reagan made two trips to Epcot during his time in office, the first on March 7, 1983. His second trip on May 27, 1985, was billed as the President’s Inaugural Bands Parade. The event served as a do-over for the marching bands who didn’t get to perform as scheduled for Reagan’s second inauguration that January due to weather.
George H.W. Bush followed suit with two visits of his own to Epcot in 1990 and 1991. Bill Clinton didn’t set foot in a Disney park, but did visit the Disney Institute in 1996. George W. Bush also stayed out of the parks, making speeches at the Contemporary Resort in 2003 and the Grand Floridian in 2006.
On Jan. 19, 2012, Barack Obama gave a speech on travel and tourism set in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, joking that his appearance: “I confess I am excited to see Mickey. It’s always nice to meet a world leader who has bigger ears than me.”
The most recent presidential visit before Trump’s Dec. 7 stop was another Obama appearance later in 2012. He spoke to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference held at the Contemporary.
Disney earnings report coming Thursday
Disney’s conference call wrapping up its fiscal year will come after the closing bell on Wall Street Thursday. The expectation is that Disney will report rather steep drop in earnings year-over-year, with a report from Zacks Equity Research predicting a decline of nearly 36 percent. Revenue, however, is expected to have risen 33 percent.
While analysts are sure to ask many questions about the company’s expectations for the Disney+ streaming service — which launches five days after the earnings release — the theme park division should also get a share of the spotlight.
In the company’s last earnings call in August, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger had to explain the lackluster opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Its Florida counterpart hasn’t fared much better, despite Disney parks chief Bob Chapek deeming it a “runaway success.”
Don’t forget about SeaWorld
On Thursday morning, Orlando’s own SeaWorld Entertainment will announce their latest quarterly earnings. Rather than fielding questions about a streaming service, the theme park chain will likely be grilled by analysts about their management shakeup.
SeaWorld CEO Gus Antorcha abruptly left the company in September after just seven months on the job. While Antorcha’s reign continued SeaWorld’s comeback that began in 2018 under interim chief John Reilly, his resignation hinted at disagreements with the company’s board — or, put more bluntly, a feud with board chairman Scott Ross over who really calls the shots at SeaWorld.
But hey, maybe analysts will only want to know about the new Ice Breaker launch coaster opening in 2020.
ICYMI from Orlando Rising: How Harry Potter saved Universal theme parks
Before The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, Universal theme parks had struggled with ownership reluctant to invest in new rides and attractions to keep guests coming back. The massive crowds that Hogsmeade attracted in 2010, however, made new parent company Comcast a believer in the theme park division. “Frankly, it saved the theme park industry,” said theme park historian and author Sam Gennawey. “Disney is still trying to catch up.”
Dating back to Oct. 21, guests picked up by Uber drivers at Universal Orlando have been paying a $4 surcharge. Uber told WKMG News 6 that the charge comes from Universal to recoup the costs of the workers needed to staff the new rideshare pickup area on top of the Jurassic Park parking garage.
Blog Mickey: Toy Story Land BBQ restaurant goes vertical
Construction of this new table-service restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is now visible to the right of the entrance pathway into Toy Story Land. The expansion area was previously occupied by office trailers and is located next to the building that once housed Disney’s Florida animation studio.
Orange County Register: FuelRod quickly backtracks on $3 swapping fee at Disney World
Nothing like a lawsuit to change a company’s mind. FuelRod announced that it would begin charging a $3 fee for customers to swap out portable chargers inside Disney theme parks, but after a $5 million suit alleging false advertising was filed, the policy was quickly abandoned — for now, at least.
Theme Park Tourist: Disney raises prices on Villains After Hours events
The Villains After Hours event is coming back to the Magic Kingdom on select nights from February through July, 2020. Getting in will be more expensive; prices for tickets purchased in advance are up to $145, though annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members can get discounted tickets for $115.