Some of the cast members who helped bring to life a powerful new video in the lobby of The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln recently gathered for a first look days before it debuted to guests at Disneyland park. The pre-show video tells the story of the relationship between the 16th president and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
“To help tell a story that is profound. That is thoughtful. That is inspiring. That, we hope, when our cast and guests walk in and see, it will heighten the curiosity to know that we are better when we work together,” said Carmen Smith, senior vice president, creative development – product/content and inclusive strategies for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, as she shared her appreciation for those involved in the collaborative project. “We are better together across culture, race, religion and orientation. When we walk side by side, anything is possible.”
In striving to create a culture of inclusion for cast and guests to feel seen and heard, the highly collaborative project team included representatives from Walt Disney Imagineering, National Geographic, and the Disneyland Resort PULSE Business Employee Resource Group (BERG), which advocates for cast members of African and Caribbean descent and backgrounds. Together, they worked to bring the story of Douglass and Lincoln’s friendship and fight against slavery to a 9-minute documentary now playing in the Main Street Opera House at Disneyland park.
In April 2022, a bust and portrait of Douglass were installed in the lobby next to those of Abraham Lincoln, whose story has been told in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” since the attraction opened in 1965. Now, the National Geographic pre-show video narrated by ABC anchor Robin Roberts provides guests and cast a deeper look into Douglass’ legacy as a former slave who rose to be a powerful leader in the abolitionist movement and the relationship between the two men. The video includes testimonials from Douglass’ third great-grandson Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., and Dr. John Stauffer, a leading expert on anti-slavery and the Civil War era.
“I have been at National Geographic for 25 years, and it is this very moment that makes me proud. Proud that we are sharing in this historic event working better together, as these two giants did, to bring us to where we are today,” said Karen Greenfield, senior vice president of Content Planning and Operations at National Geographic.
Members of the Disneyland Resort PULSE BERG, who were invited to a private viewing, provided input during the process.
“We were brought in and contributed PULSE’s point of view throughout this journey,” said PULSE BERG co-chair and operations manager Veronica Horton. “We helped select the voice actors, we shared input on the script and gave feedback on all the images and entire video.
“That input represents a milestone for the Black community,” Veronica said. “This means everything. We’re adding something that is meaningful in our history that’s now part of Main Street, U.S.A.”
PULSE BERG co-chair and senior manager of Downtown Disney District Business Relations Lindell Skinner added: “As we think about The Walt Disney Company for the next 100 years … we’re going to continue telling true authentic stories.”
You can watch the pre-show video now in the lobby of the Main Street Opera House. During Black History Month and beyond, we celebrate our Black and African American employees, consumers and fans around the world.
Back when Lincoln was “4D” with headsets there was a sequence in it that had a conversation between Fredrick Douglas and Lincoln. I thought that was amazing to us. As parents of an adopted biracial child it allowed us to open discussion about that era. We were able to talk about how the Civil War was not fought to free the slaves, yet Lincoln kept it going to free them because he knew it was the right thing to do. Our daughter was homeschooled and this was an amazing part of her education as was the Hall of Presidents at WDW. Please do continue to add more edutainment as Walt would have.