I came across this rather interesting announcement earlier today and frankly, was a little surprised that Disney wasn’t making more of a big deal about it – President Obama will be giving a speech (presumably about new travel policies to support tourism) at the Magic Kingdom on Thursday!
I suppose the more I think about it, it’s actually a rather fine line for Disney to walk, though – on one hand, it’s pretty awesome to be able to play host to the President for just about anything and I know that I for one am looking forward to watching live on Thursday just for the sake of seeing Main Street USA in the background, but at the same time it’s also certainly going to be at the very least mildly inconvenient for anyone who happens to be visiting Walt Disney World this week, particularly if they’re planning on going to the Magic Kingdom that day or are staying at the Contemporary nearby, where apparently there will be staging areas for the press and whatnot. Not only will guests have to contend with the mind-boggling concept of Main Street USA being closed as the primary thoroughfare into the park … something that I’m still trying to wrap my head around myself because funneling tens of thousands of people through backstage areas to keep Main Street clear just seems kinda crazy … but also, keep in mind that guests visiting that day will not have any access to see the President whatsoever, as only those with official press invites from the White House will be permitted at his speech.
To their credit, I do think that Disney has probably done just about all the can, assuming that they weren’t able to give more notice to guests for security purposes or whatever. But they’ve said that letters will go out to everyone staying at the Resort this week, and hours have been extended at pretty much all of the other parks in an attempt to deter folks from visiting the Magic Kingdom altogether that day, so it’s not like they’re just corralling off the streets and saying, “Deal with it…”
I remember a few years ago when President Bush came to Tampa for some big speech or something. I worked in one of the skyscrapers downtown at the time, so I had kind of a bird’s eye view of the whole ordeal, and I’ve got to tell you it seemed a little eerie to look out on the freeway where the Prez would make his exit and see it completely devoid of traffic because the Secret Service had shut it down! Although I have absolutely no desire to fight the insanity Thursday morning, I’d also be kinda curious to see the measures that are put into place between Orlando International Airport and the Magic Kingdom while the President is in transit between the two – just knowing that there will be people allowed in the park at all shows that this might be treated a little differently.
For anyone interested in watching along with me, President Obama’s speech from Main Street USA will air live on Thursday at 12:30pm EST at http://whitehouse.gov/live.