One planned Disney theme park known by relatively few of the Disney faithful was meant to be a display of the country where the man Disney and the company Disney rose to prominence. Disney’s America was supposed to be a 3,000-acre park in Haymarket, Virginia that celebrated the history of the United States. Even though it was announced in 1993 it never came to fruition, in Virginia or anywhere else, for a variety of reasons. However, a lot of work went into its development and it would be a shame to not showcase that. Here is the history of Disney’s America and an inside look at what the park was supposed to contain.
1. The project's roots trace back to the 1950s
Walt Disney always intended to create an area of Disneyland that would educate the nation’s youth of the colonial roots and progress that led to the creation of the United States. Americana was and is one of the Imagineers’ specialties, so it made sense to add more. Between 1957 and 1959 Walt planned to create an area off Main Street called “Liberty Street,” a cup-de-sac that would recreate colonial America with shops and exhibits themed to that period. The locations would even have actual blacksmiths, silversmiths and printers showing off their abilities to guests.
Liberty Street would have ended in Liberty Square, a plaza that recreated Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, which would have been named Liberty Hall in Disneyland. It would contain the Hall of the Declaration of Independence and the Hall of Presidents, which would utilize the then-new Audio-Animatronics technology.
Because of the earliness to the tech, it would have been a pale comparison to the Audio-Animatronics we enjoy today. The Liberty area would never come to pass because of reasons like finances and Walt’s short attention span, but parts of it would live on in different forms, specifically the Hall of Presidents at Disney World and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
2. The concept was finalized in the 1990s
Concept plans were put together for Disney’s America in 1993, and then-chief executive officer at Disney Michael Eisner instantly fell in love with the project. He even wrote in the book Work in Progress that it was the thing he was most passionate of in his first decade leading Disney. He personally made, reviewed and approved park plans and site selection. It must have been heartbreaking for him that Disney’s America never came to pass.
3. Themed areas & attractions were planned out shortly after
The plans made for Disney’s America were pretty extensive. There would have been nine themed areas, each devoted to a different period of United States history. Some attractions were even in the planning stages. Here is what we know about what could have been.
Crossroads USA (1840s)
This would have been a village set in the Civil War era that served as the hub of Disney’s America. The entrance would have taken attendees under an 1840s train trestle.
Native America (1600-1810)
Thankfully, plans were in place to celebrate the culture that lived far before Europeans arrived. Native America would have recreated Pochatan Native American village, largely because of the Pocahontas movie. It would have represented multiple Mid-Atlantic tribes with exhibits, arts and crafts and, most excitingly, a Lewis and Clark Expedition. That would have been a whitewater raft ride, and it inspired both Kali River Rapids and Grizzly River Run at other Disney parks.
A celebration of the founding fathers. One attraction listed for it was the Hall of Presidents. Opinions varied as to if this would have been the Magic Kingdom attraction moved to Virginia or a completely new attraction.
Civil War Fort (1850-1870)
This would have been an ideal home to Civil War re-enactments. It would also recreate water fights between the battleships The Monitor and The Merrimac. A planned attraction was a Circle Vision 360 movie showing scenes from a battlefield.
A recreation of an American factory town that would have celebrated the technology’s that come out of the United States. It was supposed to have a steel mill-themed roller coaster called Industrial Revolution.