Saturday, July 4, 2015

The History of Disney's America Park

By Keith Mahne

In honor of the Fourth of July, let's discuss what would have been the most patriotic Disney theme park in the history of the company, a unrealized creation called Disney's America. The project was officially announced on November 11th, 1993 and as a rare brochure for the Park states, "The Walt Disney Company will create a unique and historically detailed environment in Prince William County, Virginia, which celebrates our nation's richness of diversity, spirit and innovation - DISNEY'S AMERICA." Let's see with our own eyes this wonderful brochure detailing the plans for what would have been the ultimate tribute to America's history with a bit of Disney magic...

The model of Disney's America park.

A few years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to purchase an amazing piece of Disney history. It was a brochure used by Disney and the Imagineers to showcase their plans for a whole new Disney theme park experience. It was going to be called Disney's America and was designed and planned as a complement to the monuments, museums, and national treasures of Washington D.C.. Disney described the park as a venue for people of all ages to discuss the future of and learn more about our nation’s history by actually living it. The park would offer guests unique attractions, shows and interactive experiences about the past, present, and future of America. Instead of telling you about the Park, I think it would be best to show you the actual brochure. I scanned the 6 page fold out and I think you're really going to enjoy what you see. Have a look for yourself...

(Click on each photo of the brochure to enlarge.)







As you can see, Disney's America was going to be a spectacular project. Let's take a closer look at some of the concept art...

Here we see the complete concept of the entire Park.

This is the "Crossroads USA" area of the Park featuring a Civil War era village or the "Main Street" of Disney's America.

Here we see the "Native America" area of the Park where guests would have enjoyed interactive experiences, exhibits and arts and crafts.

This was the white water raft ride that would have gone throughout the "Native America" area (as you can see in the previous photo) that was based on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents was going to become the main attraction in an area called "Presidents' Square".

Here we see the Civil War Fort that was going to take guests into a Civil War re-enactment featuring water battles between the Monitor and the Merrimac.

Another great view of the Civil War Fort area of the Park.

My favorite concept art from the brochure is a replica of Ellis Island for the area called "We the People" where guests would have lived the immigrant experience through music, ethnic food and a great live show presentation.

Here we see more of the "We the People" area.

This is concept art of the "Enterprise" area of the Park that would have highlighted the American ingenuity. Here guests could have experienced a roller coaster attraction called the Industrial Revolution (seen below).

Here we see a great inside shot of the Industrial Revolution roller coaster ride.

In the "Victory Field" portion of the Park, guests would have experienced a series of hangars containing attractions based on America's military airpower using virtual reality technology. 

A closer look at "Victory Field".

Here we see the "State Fair" area of the Park. A celebration of small town America, a 60-foot Ferris Wheel, wooden roller coaster, and a tribute to the country's favorite pastime, baseball, would all entertain visitors in this section of the Park.

This is the "Family Farm" area where guests would have had the opportunity to see different types of farm industries related to food production in addition to some hands-on experiences like milking cows and learning what homemade ice cream tastes like.

As you can see, the Disney America project would have been epic. Sadly, however, it was not meant to be. Several of the local residents of Prince William County, Virginia never took to the massive proposal and feared the new park would eventually lead to their quiet community being replaced by loud attractions, unwanted tourists and gaudy hotels. The citizens also worried that their area's natural beauty and environment would forever be overshadowed by a Disney theme park. The outcry against Disney reached such a level that CEO Michael Eisner cancelled the proposal in 1994, a year after the project was announced. Several of the planned attractions, such as the Lewis and Clark white water raft ride, Victory Field, and the Family Farm, became attractions at Disney's California Adventure in Grizzly River Run, Condor Flats, and Bountiful Valley Farm respectively.

It's plain to see that Disney's America would have been a truly amazing tribute to American history done like only Disney can do. The Park, without a doubt, would have been the place to be on the Fourth of July...


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome article. This was information that I did not know and I found it enjoyable. Thank you.