If you’re not aware, Walt Disney adored President Abraham Lincoln — so much so that there is an attraction dedicated to him in Disneyland. (And technically, he is in the Hall of Presidents in Disney World — which is still closed, by the way).
The attraction in Disneyland opened July 18th, 1965, and was an exact copy of the show when it was at the World’s Fair a year prior. The attraction was in the Opera House right on Main Street USA, and did not require any of the A through E tickets to enjoy. The attraction has gone through many changes through the years, but there’s one constant thing that remains in the show:
The animatronic of Abe Lincoln.
Disney legend Blaine Gibson designed the face of Lincoln by using one of Lincoln’s life masks. About two months prior to his death in 1865, Lincoln allowed sculptor Clark Mills to make a life mask of his face. We all know what happened to him mere weeks later, so the life mask was made in the nick of time. There are actually two life masks of him — one was made in 1860 — and his secretary John Hay even remarked on the difference between the two. The stress of his presidency was literally written all over his face.
The Lincoln animatronic was also one of Disney’s most ambitious robots to date. In the August 1963 edition of National Geographic, they described the first Lincoln animatronic as alarmingly lifelike. By the time the attraction was brought to Disneyland, it was likely even more awe-inspiring and horrific. I mean, seriously — they used his actual likeness to make the robot.
So next time you visit Disneyland, be sure to check out the Lincoln animatronic. It’s probably the closest thing to the President that we’ll ever get.