Did you know there is a Museum in Disney World’s Hall of Presidents?
You wouldn’t imagine that the place where you can stuff your face with corn dog nuggets, ride thrilling rides, and see your favorite cartoon characters come to life would also have a museum of American history, but it does!
The Hall of Presidents is often overlooked, but it is filled with more than a room of animatronics, it has a museum in the lobby. Just like anything in Walt Disney World, the lobby is not only filled with items on loan, it has fun secrets that not everyone knows!
Watch Your Step!
When you enter the lobby you will notice the center of the room is fenced off. This is no ordinary carpet! The section of the room that is cordoned off features a Presidential Seal in the carpet… an exact replica of the one in the Oval Office in the White House. You can come right up to the carpet to see the Presidential Seal etched right into the 100% wool carpet. You will see many people stay far back, but the gate is there to keep people from walking on it.
FUN FACT: Because it is the same seal used for the actual president, it is said that it took an act of congress to give Disney permission to use it.
Fancy Buckles Worn By Who??
Given that George Washington was president over 200 years ago, you don’t expect to ever see anything that belonged to him, let alone an everyday item of his. From across the room I could see beautiful silver buckles, and I was surprised to find that they belonged to the first President of the United States! Up until this point I had only seen George Washington in paintings and sure, he was wearing buckles to close his leather shoes, as was the fashion at the time, but I underestimated how fancy they were!
As the museum sign indicates, these silver and stone shoe buckles were the pinnacle of fashion in the late 1700s, and were a sign of social status. Who knew that the first President of the New World even needed to show their status with fashion. Fancy buckles, such as these, were part of jewelry collections.
Sometimes it is the most normal everyday items that are interesting over time. Maybe in 200 years someone will be looking at my Disney World coffee cup in wonder while trying to understand society during this time… It sounds funny when we put it that way, but that is exactly what it is when we are looking at the next featured item.
Since modern pens weren’t invented until 1938, the 11th President James K. Polk would use a quill and ink. What was surprising about the inkwell featured is how ornate it is. Not only is the design artistic and ostentatious, but the colorful design laced with gold is a bit more than we envisioned the man behind the expansion of the United States using.
Importance of History
What is more fascinating than the gold filigree on this hoity toity inkwell is the unspoken importance of history Disney is showing. James K. Polk is not one of the most loved presidents in our history. BUT he isour history. He is the president behind Manifest Destiny, the Mexican American War, and is also associated with increasing the tension between the northern and southern states thus leading to the Civil War. It’s easy to look back and say how terrible his ideas were and ignore his existence, but with all history it is just as important to know where we’ve been as to know where we are going. In order to understand the world we are in and how we got here we need to reflect on the past, good and bad. Instead of pretending James Polk’s presidency didn’t happen, guests are encouraged to research more about the 11th President when they look at this extravagant inkwell.
The First Cell Phone?
As we walk through you will see a small wooden case that is actually a portable telegraph belonging to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. What is really pretty funny is that it is about a third of the size of the first cell phone from the 1980s. Maybe this is a case of simple design really is best.
What is significant about this piece, about this year? After the stock market crashed in 1929 causing the Great Depression that was felt throughout the world, the 1930s brought instability to Europe. Adolf Hitler became chancellor in March of 1933 and the first concentration camp for Jews was opened one month later. With Hitler’s thirst for power and Germany’s hope for renewed glory, it is likely that the 32nd President kept this handy communication tool close to keep abreast of the news from Europe.
Artifacts from America’s Most Rugged President
Theodore Roosevelt goes down in history as the all-American bad—- Let’s stop that right there, this is a Disney site! All the same, he was tough, rugged, stuck to his principles, and didn’t care about fashion and social status. No fancy buckles for ol’ Teddy! He was so tough that in 1912 he was shot DURING a speech and refused to stop. In fact, he added to his speech that he had, in fact, been shot and would complete his speech before leaving. His response, “It takes more than a bullet to kill a moose”.
The museum showcases President Theodore Roosevelt’s saddle and felt hat. The 26th President was known to love horses and believed that hard work and labor shaped a man. He instituted the voluntary Rough Riders out west that became national heroes. Theodore Roosevelt is also credited with instituting nationwide National Parks to preserve this beautiful land for generations to come.
FUN FACT: Ever wonder how “teddy” bears got their name? Teddy Roosevelt, as some called him, was an avid hunter of big game. However, on a hunting trip where people had captured a bear for the president to shoot, he refused. Word of the story spread like wildfire through the country, so when the wife of a candy store owner in Brooklyn designed a stuffed bear to sell, she called him Teddy’s Bear. And the rest, as they say, is history!
The Man That Started It All
The left side of the museum is devoted to the man with a dream, Walter Elias Disney, and not just because he was a man who drew a mouse and voiced it with a cute falsetto. Walt Disney was an American patriot who partnered with Uncle Sam multiple times over the years and believed in the importance of preserving our history for children to learn from the former generations of dreamers.
Did you know that Disney attempted to even create another theme park in the United States, this time devoted to American history and patriotism? That’s a story for another day…
This post is part of the MDT Patriotic Disney Series!
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This MDT Post By: Jenn Scranton
Jenn is a MilSpouse who loves going to Walt Disney World with her family, pin trading, and collecting Minnie ears and coffee mugs! Check out her Bio.
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