I also love Presidents. Not romantically. Not yet at least.
So it was utter joy when I found a video that showed several still pictures of U.S. Presidents at the fabled park. Then I went to the Disneyland Hotel where they had a few other photos of Presidents who went to Disneyland.
Here is President Reagan:
This is a shot of him in 1990, just after leaving the presidency. He was giving a speech to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Disneyland.
Of course Reagan was also at Disneyland for the opening day:
And he was there as Governor of California:
His successor, George H. Bush was also shown in the video:
This was an undated clip, and it was possibly taken at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. However, the neat thing is that this may have been taken during his term as President of the United States.
None of Reagan's photos were taken when he was president, just before or after his presidency. Reagan did send video taped messages to Disneyland for specials and Christmas parades during his two terms. But most of his visits were before he was in office.
George H. Bush had also been there before he was president as this photo proves:
Of course this photo, like the one of Governor Reagan was at the Disneyland Hotel. This is an odd photo. You have the future President of the United States sitting with the hotel manager, Jose Arias. But something seems wrong. Look at how Bush is twisting his arm all the way around... notice how large his head appears and notice his lack of neck.
I think Jose cut and pasted this whole picture just to impress his friends.
Or it could just be an awkward photo... but I am keeping an eye on Jose.
Here is President Jimmy Carter in a photo that appeared on the wall of the Disneyland Hotel:
Jimmy is jogging through Disneyland, right past the (then) current home of America Sings, it was the former home of The Carousel of Progress and the future home of Innoventions.
Wow. I am not sure what I am more impressed by, President Jimmy Carter or that plot of land. They have both accomplished so much.
President Nixon also visited Disneyland quite a few times in his life:
This photo shows him getting into one of the Submarines. Nixon was a close friend of Walt Disney's apparently, and he appeared in a number of specials going back to the early days of Disneyland.
I have also seen photos of Nixon at Epcot, years after his presidency and Ive read of his visits to Disneyland's Club 33 (a members only club) during his term in office.
John F. Kennedy also visited Disneyland... maybe.
This photo appears in the montage at the beginning of the Disneyland 35th Anniversary special. It appears among a handful of pictures of other Presidents who were clearly at Disneyland. This photo, however, could have been taken in any hallway in the country. If Jose was in it I would be able to say it was a fake for sure.
Wait! I found another photo and more info:
This was indeed during Kennedy's term as a US Senator, he was touring with the President of the Republic of Guinea in 1959. Plus we can see he is in front of the Disneyland Railroad.
Eisenhower, was filmed on the Mine Train Thru Natures Wonderland:
...and on Main Street:
Here is Harry Truman in front of one of Disney's steam trains:
In January 2012, President Obama, gave a speech in front of the WDW castle:
(ADDED IN 2019) Here's the current President back in 1996
"Donald Trump, L, talks with IndyCar racing legend A. J. Foyt Jr. before the Indy 200 Indy Racing League IRL race at Walt Disney World Speedway Speedway on January 27, 1996 in Orlando, FL."
So, those are the photos. Now, let's recap:
The following Presidents had the opportunity to visit Disneyland/WDW (or it's hotel/resort area):
Herbert Hoover (d. 1964)
Harry Truman (d. 1974)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (d. 1969)
John F. Kennedy (d. 1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson (d. 1973)
Richard Nixon (d 1994)
Gerald Ford (d. 2006)
Ronald Reagan (d. 2004)
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
We have photographic proof that the following attended at some point in their lives:
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
George H. W. Bush
The remaining presidents are:
Lyndon B. Johnson
George W. Bush
I need to find out more! So, I wrote to the libraries of the remaining ex-presidents. Here is the responses I got:
Dear Mr. Hutchinson:
Thank you for contacting the Clinton Presidential Library. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any information about President Clinton appearing at any of the Disney parks.
If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
No Clinton. I like that she used the word "appearing" like he was going to be playing his sax in a lounge behind the castle.
(ADDED IN 2019) This photo would show on the Hilary 2016 website when you found a 404 error.
Thank you for your interest in Herbert Hoover. Mr. Hoover never visited Disneyland, though he was acquainted with Walt Disney through their mutual work with the Boys Clubs of America.
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library
Notice that Spencer Howard is not an "archivist" like Kelly. He is an "Archives Technician"! That sounds so much cooler.
Dear Mr. Hutchinson:
Thank you very much for contacting the Ford Library with your question. I did not locate documentation that President Ford participated at a public event at a Disney Park while he was president.
However, his daughter made two visits to Walt Disney World while her father was in the White House. First, on 6/28/1975, she made a semi-private visit to the park when she was in Florida for an event in Tampa. The Library has a few documents that mention the Disney portion of the trip in Box 5 of the Peter Sorum Papers. On June 20, 1976, Susan opened the new "River Country" area of Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. In Box 44 of the Sheila Weidenfeld Files there are approximately 25 pages of material related to this event, including schedules, press releases from Disney, and newspaper and magazine coverage.
Mickey Mouse was at the White House for a Christmas party for children of diplomats and when Susan Ford was crowned Queen Shenandoah in May 1975. Disney executives were at the White House for a couple of additional occasions.
The Library does have photographs of many of these events as well. If you are interested in photos, please contact Ken Hafeli at firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 205-0568.
If you would more information or would like photocopies of documents related to the above events, I can select and photocopy up to 10 pages at no charge. For photocopy orders over 10 pages, I can photocopy the entire contents of any folder for $0.75/page.
Also, in September 1978 (after he left office), President Ford went to Walt Disney Studios to participate in a congratulatory message for Mickey Mouse for his 50th birthday. I suggest that you contact Disney for more information about this.
I hope that this information is helpful to your project. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.
Gerald R. Ford Library
1000 Beal Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Fax (734) 205-0571
Library website: http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov
Look at the big brain on Stacy! Wow! Really, maybe "archivists" are better.
That is a whole bunch of info.
Anyway, we are left with the knowledge that a majority of U.S. Presidents have been to a Disney park.
Written by Guy Hutchinson