Downfall of Disney's America: Never Built Disney's America Part 2

Disney's America Never Built Concept Art

Disney ensures that they have very few public failures. All projects are practically a sure thing before being announced, and they make sure that more politically risky ventures have cohorts of experts behind them before ever getting announced.

Welcome to Never Built Disney's America, a new series here at TPE looking at a never-built Disney theme park based on US history. Last time we looked at the development of the park and today we are exploring its downfall and cancellation. Be sure to come back every week as we continue looking at different aspects of the park.

Disney's America was meant to be built in the larger DC area. The basic plan was for it to become another stop as part of a larger visit to historical sites in Virginia, from DC, to Colonial Williamsburg, taking a similar approach to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Disney announced plans for this 1993 after Disney had already purchased the land and gathered support from several major regional politicians, including the current and future Governor (who were also of different political parties). But it ended up seeing controversy not mainly stemming from the political world, but the public sector.

Many significant historians objected to the park and its proximity to actual historic sites, stating that it may compromise them. Disney had taken them into consideration, keeping their attractions at a low maximum height to ensure sightlines were not only maintained in the park, but also in the neighboring historic sites. They also were leaving a much larger berm then they ever had before.

These early struggles were also complicated by inconsistent messaging from Disney itself, including a poorly worded statement involving how the park would make you feel what it was like to be a slave.

Concerns about the impacts of the park on the surrounding community would be the most outspoken. People feared the rural setting would become urbanized with more developments of the necessary infrastructure.

Disney's America Overview Concept Art Never Built Disney Park

Disney had promised to invest in improvements, notably to the roads that would be used to get to and from the park, as well as providing new jobs to the community.

No matter what Disney did, including at one point redesigning massive parts of the park, the loud minority opposing the park (polls were taken proving it was a minority opposing the park) could not be silenced and Disney would permanently shelve the project, and sell off the land.

Eventually, the land planned for Disney's America was used for housing developments. What could have been used as a way to educate children in a fun way about American history was instead used for exactly what people thought the park would cause. Urban sprawl.

This would not be the death of this project, with several attempts at revisiting it made later on, but it would be the end of it in anything resembling its original version.

Disney's America was meant to add a third Disney resort to the US in a major preexisting tourist destination that was without a significant theme park presence. It would eventually help inspire future Disney attractions around the world from Soarin to Paradise Pier.

Thanks for reading and be sure to come back next week when we look at the plans for Crossroads USA, one of the main lands of Disney's America. Check out the rest of the series here.