Sunday, December 20, 2009
Today i invite you to have a look to a Disney theme park which, very unfortunately was never built, the famous Disney's America project. Announced in 1993,it was supposed to occupy 1200 acres of a 3000 acre property in Prince William County, Virginia.
Bob Weis - who was at the head of the creative development for the park - defined it as "an ideal complement to visiting Washington's museums, monuments and national treasures" was supposed to be a park " that will be a venue for people of all ages, especially the young, to debate and discuss the future of our nation and to learn more about its past by living it". A place where guests "will be able to have rides, shows and interactive experiences that are both about the history of America, about America today and also give you a sense of America in the future. And he added: "In some ways the park is a timeline, we start in the mid-1860s and go backward or forward in time".
Yes, but what kind of rides and shows guests would have enjoy at Disney's America? Well, once they entered the park, guests would have found themselves in a detailed Civil War era village, the hub of "Disney's America.
From that point, guests could discover either "Native America" and explore the life of America's first inhabitants - including an accurate Native American village reflecting the tribes that were known in this part of the country. And also enjoy interactive experiences, exhibits and arts and crafts, as well as an exciting white water river raft ride that would have gone all around the area, based on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Guests, then, would discover Presidents' Square, a celebration of the birth of democracy and those who fought to preserve it. The "Hall of presidents" of Walt Disney World would have moved to Disney's America.
A Civil War Fort would have plunge guests into a more turbulent time of American history, and adjacent to it, a big battlefield, where Civil War re-enactments and water battles between the Monitor and the Merrimac would have once again be fought.
Moving in the 20th century, a replica of Ellis Island building where many immigrants came through, guests would have live the "immigrant experience" through music, ethnic foods and a great live show presentation.
Enterprise, a factory town, would have highlights American ingenuity and guests could have ride a major roller coaster attraction called the "Industrial Revolution" , traveling through a 19th century landscape with heavy industry and blast furnaces. And, on either side of the coaster, exhibits of famous American technology that have defined the american industry in the past, as new developments that will define industries in the future.
On Victory Field guests would have experience what America's soldiers faced in the defense of freedom during the world wars. It would have look like an airport area with a series of hangars containing attractions based on America's military fight using virtual reality technology. The airport would have serve also as an exhibit area of planes from different periods, as well as a place for major flying exhibitions.
Another area, the State Fair, was going to show how - even during the big Depression of the '30s - Americans knew how to entertain themselves. With folk art exhibits and a live show on baseball, guests could have enjoy, too, classic wooden thrill rides in memory of Coney Island.
Finally, in Family Farm, WDI imagineers would have recreate an authentic farm where guests could have 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.
Mind you, all was not lost in this Disney's America project, as some of the concepts were finally used in Disney's California Adventure. Jim Hill wrote an article about it, and you can read it HERE.
After the big battle between Disney, and almost everybody who lived in Virginia - okay, i'm exagerating a bit - the project was cancelled. However, in 1995 Disney envisioned to build it - guess where? - at Knott's Berry farm that the Knotts family, tired to run their theme park, wanted to sale. Jim Hill, again, wrote another great article describing all what happened, and you can read it HERE
I know, this Disney's America project look great and we will all miss it forever, but there is one last good news: Bob Weis, the imagineer that was in charge of the project's creative development is now back at WDI, and is now supervising the new placemaking of Disney's California Adventure. And, believe me, all imagineers welcomed him back like the messiah!
All photos: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc
All my thanks to Jim Hill for some of the infos included in this article.
Many many thanks to Michael of the excellent Progress City web site.
Those of you who want to find more infos on the Disney's America battle can find good links HERE