In 1964, Walt Disney premiered the first human Audio-Animatronic figure, Abe Lincoln, at the New York World’s Fair. The following year, Disney built an updated figure—the Lincoln Mark II, he called it—to appear in the Opera House at Disneyland. For three months, the Lincoln show played simultaneously on both coasts, the original Lincoln performing in New York and the improved Lincoln servo-ing out five performances each hour at Disneyland.
On the weekend of Disneyland’s tenth anniversary—the “Tencennial,” as it was billed—Walt, himself, hosted five special previews of the Lincoln show for members of the press—and also for special groups, such as the sponsors of the Lincoln show in New York. Predictably, Walt discussed his dream of creating a realistic human figure, one with movement and sound. “I don’t want to replace the human being,” he admitted to one audience. “I just want to bring back history.” To another audience, he explained that the Lincoln figure was “equivalent to getting that first satellite into orbit,” a forerunner to other, more fantastic projects.