In 1994, plans for “Disney’s America,” the proposed American history-based theme park that was set for Haymarket, Virginia in Prince William Co., were withdrawn – a little more than a year after they were first put forth publicly. Opposition based on the proximity of the park to the historic Manassas battlefields and concern over increased traffic on I-66 and in the surrounding area ultimately killed this project in PWC.
Just a few years ago, Disney was considering a plan to purchase the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in California not far from Disneyland and convert it into Disney’s America. In the end, this did not work out because the Knott family refused to sell to Disney. Obviously, the prospects for this project happening are not completely dead and reportedly many at Disney still believe this project’s ”time will come.” It would seem that the right circumstances would have to exist, though.
Fast forward to 2008. Anheuser-Busch has been purchased by Belgian brewer InBev, which is looking to shed the company’s non-core assets, possibly including Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. Here you have a location that is already zoned for a theme park, has proven to be very successful in that capacity and the necessary infrastructure is largely already in place. Furthermore, local businesses and residents support a theme park in this location.
An added bonus that this location has that neither Haymarket nor Southern California offered – the proximity of Colonial Williamsburg. The synergy between these two sites would help both of them and would surely attract additional visitors to Colonial Williamsburg, something that they have been trying to do for quite some time via their various marketing campaigns. Colonial Williamsburg offers Disney’s America historical cachet (which is what they were looking for in PWC with its proximity to Washington, DC) while Disney’s America, far from pulling visitors away from the current historical attraction, would bring in additional tourism that would be likely to visit it as well as nearby Jamestown and Yorktown. (One need only look at what a bust the 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown was compared to what had been hoped for to see that such a boost as Disney would provide is necessary.)
I’ll leave the logistics of transforming Busch Gardens Europe into Disney’s America in the hands of Disney’s “Imagineers,” but just look at some of the concept drawings that they came up with for the original plans and see how existing attractions at Busch Gardens could be adapted.
Overview of “Disney’s America”
Aerial Map of “Disney’s America”
Very similar to the current entrance to Ireland at Busch Gardens which used to be Hastings, England until 2002, so this wouldn’t be its first transformation.
Change out the style of boats and the items on display along the waterway and the Roman Rapids are now the River Rapids
Curse of DarKastle could become the Coaster Through the Industrial Revolution
Victory Field – A Tribute To The War Years
According to Wikipedia and other sources, plans for Disney’s America called for eight distinctly themed areas:
Native American Village- 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.
Civil War- A Civil War Fort would have plunged 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.
Ellis Island- 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.
State Fair- Area that 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.
Family Farm- A Recreation of 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.
President’s 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.
Enterprise- Enterprise, a factory town, would have highlighted American ingenuity and guests could have ridden 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, and new developments that will define industries in the future.
Victory Field- On Victory Field guests would have experienced what America’s soldiers faced in the defense of freedom during the world wars. It would have looked 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 served also as an exhibit area of planes from different periods, as well as a place for major flying exhibitions.
Think about it. The Hall of Presidents moved from Walt Disney World to Virginia, the Mother of Presidents. Very fitting indeed.
For more on the original plans and concepts, check out this site.
So, I say the time is upon us. The circumstances are aligning.
Revive “Disney’s America” and bring it to Virginia!