“I’m Going To Disney World” says President Obama

Filed under: Orlando Theme Parks,Walt Disney World |

President Barack Obama is visiting Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom this Thursday 19th January and in his short time here, it is believed he will unveil a new policy for boosting tourism to the United States.  Cinderella Castle is the chosen backdrop sometime around mid-day and this event is sure to be many election year visits by the president to Florida.

Specifics of his tourism plan are hazy but there is one topic at the top of the political wish list for Central Florida tourism: visa reform. The tourism industry has been pushing Congress and Obama to make travel to the U.S. easier for visitors from emerging nations such as Brazil, India and China, while visitors from the UK and Europe are sure to hope for an easier entry to the country as well.

Blain Rethmeier, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association said “We understand that he [Obama] is going to trumpet the value of travel generally and improve facilitation for international travel, especially from China and Brazil.”

A recent congressional appropriations bill gave the U.S. secretary of state authority to develop a pilot program using videoconference technology to conduct visa interviews for leisure and business travelers. Such video conferences would be high on Disney’s priority list, as they would likely cut the overall expense of coming to Orlando to see the Mouse.

A congressional aide, not authorized to speak on the record, said Capitol Hill expects the White House to make permanent a program called Global Entry, which cuts down clearance times at U.S. Customs checkpoints for “pre-approved, low-risk travelers” arriving in this country.

Air Force One is expected to land at Orlando International Airport late-morning Thursday, with the president’s motorcade taking him directly to Disney World. He is expected to leave Central Florida less than three hours later.

Disney is bracing for heavy security around the Magic Kingdom and has canceled extra hours in the park for guests staying in its hotels, pushed back the start time of a daily parade to move it further away from Obama’s visit, and prohibited employees from using entrance passes for the day. It has also imposed parking restrictions at a nearby hotel, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which will be used as a staging area for news media.

At the same time, Disney has extended operating hours and added entertainment at its three other parks in hopes of steering guests away from the Magic Kingdom. Resort workers have also distributed in-room letters to people staying in Disney hotels, advising them of the changes.

Mid-January is one of the slowest periods of the year for Disney World and the region’s other theme parks but there are still likely to be tens of thousands of tourists in the Magic Kingdom when Obama delivers his speech. We’ll keep you informed…



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