Today is, of course, Memorial Day in the United States, but by a fitting coincidence it is also the 89th anniversary of the opening of the Lincoln Monument in Washington, DC, which memorializes the sixteenth president of the United States.
It is interesting, however, that this is not the Lincoln memorial that is most widely visited. That honour belongs to the attraction, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which is a feature of the Disneyland Theme Park in Anaheim, CA.
Featuring an audio-animatronic recreation of President Lincoln, the attraction is viewed by millions of visitors every year, and was one of the most ambitious robotic creations when it opened in the 1960s. It has continually been a popular feature in the decades since, even to the extent that Disney was roundly criticised when it was removed for several years.
In the last decade, Disney’s “Imagineers” have created a new feature, utilising the latest technology available, although with much the same presentation as before. Rather than hydraulics, the new Lincoln uses electronics and electric servos to control his movements; but that barely scratches the surface of its capabilities. The same technology is being used on other animatronics in the Disney realm, and as the technology progresses, it is thought that it will be possible for the Lincoln character to move about, even interacting with his audience, using voice recognition and motion-tracking cameras.
America’s sixteenth president became legend because of his proclivity for forward-thinking strategies and grand ideas; it is interesting that well over a century later, his likeness should be used to continue progress of another sort.