Simanaitis Says

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IT IS rare that I turn to Variety, America’s weekly entertainment trade magazine, for political updates. Typically, the Orange County Register and The New York Times suffice for balance, along with some Internet truth-sleuthing on my part. However, in framing my Disney Imagineers proposal, I find that Variety offers the full schtick.

By the way, in a due-diligence background check, I learned that Variety is part of Penske Media Corporation. Yes, that Penske, in the person of Jay, son of Roger and Kathy. Jay may be sorta my kinda guy because he owns a Los Angeles-based used bookstore dealing with rare and collectibles.

My modest proposal for Disney Imagineers arises from an evolving story about Donald Trump’s animatronic robot planned for Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

The Hall of Presidents, as it appeared in 2016. An animatronic Barack Obama delivers a speech.

The first animatronic president was Abraham Lincoln, designed by Disney for the Illinois Pavilion of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. (It’s a family tale that Wife Dottie’s brother Williard may have had a hand in all this.)

An enhanced Lincoln made its debut at Disneyland in 1967 and Disney World’s Hall of Presidents in 1971. As the 2009-2017 version of the attraction evolved, all 44 presidents were represented animatronically, including a speech by Barack Obama. The Hall of Presidents closed on January 17, 2017, for refurbishment and inclusion of an animatronic Donald Trump.

Image from

Not without controversy, however. Early in 2017, nearly 15,000 people signed a petition requesting that Disney omit a speaking role for the animatronic Trump.

More recently, according to Variety, June 28, 2017, Vice Media’s Motherboard technology website got into the action with two articles “supposedly revealing discord at Disney Parks about Donald Trump’s presence in the Hall of Presidents.” Indeed, Variety notes that the two articles have since been retracted. Even Breitbart got involved calling the Motherboard stories “fake news.”

Imagine that.

The Hall of Presidents at Disney World. Image from Theme Park University.

At the core of all this is the interaction between Disney Imagineers and the White House in devising the animatronic Trump’s script and action. Who decides what he says or how he moves?

Pause here to imagine some sub-optimal proclivities. No, let’s not go there.

My proposal for Disney Imagineers solves everything: Design the animatronic Trump to be tweeting!

How historically appropriate this would be!

Trump is the first president to make significant—some would say reductio ad absurdum—use of this communications medium. As to the validity of tweets, on June 6, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements of the United States.”

Hmm… What does the rest of the world make of “covfefe”? Indeed, what do we make of it?

Also, given the current stonewalling of media being the only effective wall constructed thus far, these official tweets take on great significance.

An animatronic Tweeter-in-Chief would also appeal to the Disney Imagineers’ sense of elegant engineering: Articulation could be limited to the president’s notoriously tiny thumbs. Any spare animatronic capability might be applied to a fabricated scowl now and again.

I would further propose the Hall of Presidents displaying the Trump animatron posed in front of a TV that’s beaming appropriate news programming. How else to get intel?

Donald Trump, President of the United States, Tweeter Extraordinaire.

The animatronic Trump could be attired in a bathrobe. However, The Hall of Presidents has impressionable young people around, so I’d opt for a conservative blue suit, white shirt and a long red tie. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2017


  1. Michael Rubin
    June 30, 2017

    Brilliant in its simplicity. And it will show the size of his little thumbs.

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