Native America: Never Built Disney's America

Lewis and Clark Ride Concept Art Disney's America

Disney's America was deeply rooted in Americana but it was also rooted in the people who inhabited the Americas prior to colonists taking over the land from its original inhabitants.

Welcome to Never Built Disney's America where we explore the history and rides of the never-built Disney patriotic theme park once planned to be built in Virginia. Today we are exploring the land based on Native Americans. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here.

Disney had long attempted to include Native American culture in their parks, starting with Indian Villiage, an early extension of Disneyland that was located in present-day Critter Country. While by no means up to today's standards, it brought a relatively accurate for the era representation of Native American cultures for decades.

This would have been a natural extension of that legacy.

Going by the much better name of Native America, this land would have looked at North America before Europeans came in, specifically in the region the park was located in.

It was to be mostly based on the Powhatan Tribe, but also include aspects of other regional tribes of Native Americans from surrounding areas. The majority of the land would have featured a recreation of a traditional Native American village.

The land would also feature one major attraction, a water ride based on the expedition of Lewis and Clark, which would have been a rapids ride, the first for any Disney Park.

Disney had two other rapids rides that were developed slightly after this park that may give insight into what this ride may have looked like. Kali River Rapids is a ride built on a budget (by Disney standards) while still telling a pro-environment story with minimal thrills. Grizzly River Run, on the other hand, takes riders through an idealized version of a Northern California national park and packs in a lot of thrills, and is probably more along the lines of what this ride would have been, only with the setting being relocated to Virginia.

Native American Chief Rivers of America Disneyland

While it is uncertain whether this would come to inspire anything else directly at the Disney Parks, recent years have seen more accurate and respectful portrayals of Native Americans in the Disney Parks including along Disneyland's Rivers of America.

Thanks for exploring Disney's America with us and be sure to come back next week as we explore President's Square. Be sure to check out the series so far here.