Okay, boys and girls — put on your mouse ear hats and roll up your sleeves. We’re doing an open thread here where you get to play Disney “Imagineer.” We have some sketches and plans from the original “Disney’s America” that was set for Prince William County back in the ’90s as a basis to start from. But what would YOU have Disney put in such a park (whether it be a remodeled Busch Gardens or built from scratch on undeveloped land elsewhere in/near Williamsburg)? What would you suggest? Here’s your chance to have some fun!
First up, an overview of the park:
To give you a feel for the scope of things, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is 100 acres while Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando is 107 acres, so the parks are of comparable size. One would expect, particularly if the Disney-Busch Gardens scenario comes to pass, that they would be dealing with a park of this size for Disney’s America.
Now for the various “lands” envisioned for the park:
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.
Now here is where YOU come in. What would you include, either based upon the various descriptions or your own imagination? What at Busch Gardens could be converted for use in a Disney’s America if they bought the park?
Here’s a few things that I would put forward…
First, Disney would be crazy not to incorporate their one Disney Princess who was based upon a real person.
The Algonquian Indians lived in Virginia’s Tidewater region and Pocahontas is closely associated with nearby Jamestown. As a result, Disney could use the Princess hook to get people to learn about the real history. This could be the centerpiece of their Native American Village.
Next thing that I would suggest is a corporate partnership along the lines of what Disney does in its other parks. In this instance, the “American Girl” brand. They could have a store within the park that only dealt with the historical American Girl dolls, especially given that two of their most popular ones are set in Colonial Williamsburg and they even have a movie about them.
One other item that would be a natural fit would be to base an attraction on the Disney’s American Legions film that tells the stories of Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyon, Casey Jones and John Henry.
For that matter, Disney has a vault full of historical / patriotic material that Disney’s America could put to good use. Doesn’t anyone else remember watching Johnny Tremain in grade school?
(Actually, to be honest, I thought that I remembered watching it, but since I hadn’t heard anyone mention it or seen anything about it since then, I started to think maybe I had just imagined the whole story and there was no such movie.)
Well, even if you don’t, there’s still the iconic Davey Crockett that Disney produced.
So, that all should get the creative juices flowing. Do tell what you come up with, Imagineers!