When Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln first opened at DISNEYLAND, it was an amazing attraction. Here was Abraham Lincoln, seemingly come to life. When the attraction premiered at the 1964 New York World's Fair, guests were dazzled by the animatronic, so much so that some early audience members claimed that Lincoln stepped off the stage and shook hands with the people in the first row.
Essentially, the attraction was just Mr. Lincoln standing up and gesturing while he spoke. Once the novelty of audio animatronic Lincoln wore off, attendance fell and the sponsor, who was footing the full bill for operating the attraction, pulled out. The park pondered what to do with the facility and Mrs. Disney had a solution.
DISNEYLAND was entering its second decade of operation. Skeptics had doubted the park would last six months, much less twenty years. Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom had grown to become an American icon; perhaps it was time to honor the man who had willed it into existence. Mrs. Disney decided to honor him by converting the DISNEYLAND Opera House into a museum and film honoring the park's creator.
Despite the fact that Mr. Lincoln's eroding attendance had spurred the park to replace him, a formal protest was begun by the Orange County Republican Party. The political group somehow convinced the media that Lincoln's ouster was an affront to history and their party, despite the fact that the party as it was under Nixon was nothing like it was under Lincoln. Park guests also joined the clamor against the attraction's replacement despite the fact that few of them bothered to attend it in its final days.
Faced with controversy and anger, the park returned Mr. Lincoln to service just a few years later. The Walt Disney Story featuring Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln made its debut. Despite the uproar over the attraction's replacement, the crowds still didn't materialize. Mrs. Disney was vindicated, but she chose not to attempt having the attraction replaced ever again.