Campaign for Disney’s America

Following is a history of posts related to Virginia Virtucon’s campaign to bring “Disney’s America” to Virginia from the genesis of the idea through the very latest news:

InBev Looking To Sell Busch Gardens?

Revive “Disney’s America” in Virginia!

OPEN THREAD: “Imagineering” Disney’s America in Williamsburg

Is InBev Holding Out On A Busch Gardens Sale For Now?

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the proposed American history-based theme park that was set for Haymarket, Virginia in Prince William Co., were withdrawn – a little more than a year after they were first put forth publicly.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.

Beginning in 2008, after Anheuser-Busch was purchased by Belgian brewer InBev and news broke that it would be selling Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., Virtucon undertook the Campaign for Disney’s America.  Until the sale of the Busch parks to the Blackstone Group, the campaign focused on persuading Disney to purchase Busch and convert the Williamsburg park.  The current campaign instead is aimed at attracting Disney to build the park from scratch along I-64 between New Kent and Williamsburg.

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.)

Following are some of the original concept drawings that Disney Imagineers came up with for the park when it was planned for Haymarket in Prince William County.

Overview of “Disney’s America”

Aerial Map of “Disney’s America”

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!

Other Resources on Original “Disney’s America” Plans:

“Disney’s America” Announcement Press Release – 11/11/93