The Walt Disney Company is well known for coming up with ideas that never come to fruition. From Lilliputian Land and WestCOT at Disneyland to Beastly Kingdom and Disney’s Asian Resort at Walt Disney World, there have been literally hundreds of ideas and concepts considered as future attractions, lands, hotels, etc. but were eventually turned down because of “reasons.” Instead, they’ve been shelved for future reference, or perhaps certain aspects of them were taken and eventually used, but not the entire idea as planned by the Imagineers. However, there is one project that almost saw the light of day.
In the late 1980s, Michael Eisner, then the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, and some other Disney executives visited Colonial Williamsburg. A few years later, in 1993, with 30,000 acres of land already purchased, they announced a new theme park that would be built in Haymarket, Virginia, about five miles from the site of the Manassas National Battlefield and less than 40 minutes from the heart of Washington D.C.
It was going to have the theme of American history and would be called Disney’s America.
Joe and I were huge Disney fans when that announcement in 1993 came out and, living in the northeast at the time, we loved the idea of there being a Disney park only 4 hours away by car. So we paid as close attention as we could (during those very early years of what would eventually become the internet as we know it today. Prodigy, anyone? CompuServe?) as further information was made public.
Unfortunately, the planning for Disney’s America didn’t last very long, By mid-1994 there were significant hurdles to overcome and, as was the case of so many other good Disney plans, the idea for the theme park was shelved later that year. However, some aspects of it (Grizzly River Run, Soarin’ [now Soarin’ Around The World, and sometimes Soarin’ Over California], California Screamin’ [now Incredicoaster] and Condor Flats [now Grizzly Peak Airfield]) were eventually reimagined (*cough* and then oftentimes reimagined again, apparently) for other Disney theme parks.
That’s really the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of Disney’s America, but this video gives a much better history of what happened to the theme park that was to be about our country’s history, a’la Disney:
It’s a very cool concept and I’m sorry it never happened. But, knowing Disney, who knows what more of it we may see some time in the future, right?
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