Disney's America was a planned theme park that was to have been built by the Walt Disney Company in Haymarket, Virginia in the early 1990s. The park was to have been dedicated to the history of the United States; however, amid opposition from citizen's groups, the project was canceled in 1994. But not before Disney attempted to change the idea to get the public on board, they quickly put together Disney's American Celebration.
The concept was revived in 1997 as a potential re-theming of Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, when the Knott family offered its amusement park for sale. This concept would have folded the park into the Disneyland Resort complex, located about 7 miles away in nearby Anaheim. However, the Knott family refused to sell its park to Disney, largely due to concerns over what Disney would do to the property, and the project was canceled again. Several of the proposed elements of Disney's America were incorporated into Disney's California Adventure, which opened in 2001.
After concept plans for Disney's America were drawn up for the history-based attraction in 1993, it became Michael Eisner's pet project, obtaining the support of outgoing Gov. L. Douglas Wilder (D) and incoming Gov. George Allen (R), as well as the Virginia Commission on Population Growth and Development. However, citizens were angered at the prospect of the theme park and authorities granted permits for the construction of Nissan Pavilion instead. As a result, Disney's America was scrapped, as well as other early 1990s Disney projects WestCOT and Port Disney.
- CROSSROADS USA (1800-1850) - A spirited portrait of mid-19th century commerce, Crossroads USA is the hub of DISNEY'S AMERICA, launching guests on an unforgettable journey through the vivid tapestry of American history. An 1840 train trestle bridge marks the entrance to this territory and supports two antique steam trains that visitors may board for a trip around the Park's nine territories.
- PRESIDENT'S SQUARE (1750-1800) - From the struggle of the colonists and the War of Independence to the formation of the United States and its government, President's Square celebrates the birth of democracy and the patriots who fought to preserve it. Through the use of Disney's Auto-Animatronics technology, guests may meet these American heros in the Hall of Presidents, a moving account of the making of our nation.
- NATIVE AMERICA (1600-1810) - Native America explores the life of America's first inhabitants, their accord with the environment and the timeless works of art they created long before European colonization. Guests may visit and Indian village representing such Eastern tribes as the Powhatans, or join in a harrowing Lewis and Clark raft expedition through pounding rapids and churning whirlpools.
Civil War Fort
- CIVIL WAR FORT (1850-1870) - Emblematic of our nation's greatest crisis, the Civil War Fort allows guests to experience the reality of a soldier's daily life. Inside, the use of Disney's CIRCLE VISION 360 technology will transport visitors into the center of Civil War combat; outside, they may encounter an authentic re-enactment of a period battle or gather along Freedom Bay for a thrilling nighttime spectacular based on the historic confrontation between Monitor and the Merrimac.
We the People
- WE THE PEOPLE (1870-1930) - Framed by a building resembling Ellis Island, We the People recognizes the courage and triumph of our immigrant heritage - from the earliest native settlers to the latest political refugees. A powerful multimedia attraction, We the People explores and explains how the conflicts among these varied cultures continue to help shape this nation.
- ENTERPRISE (1870-1930) - The factory town of Enterprise plays host to inventions and innovations spawned by the ingenuity and can-do spirit that catapulted America to the forefront of industry. Within Enterprise, those daring enough can climb aboard the Industrial Revolution, a high-speed adventure through a turn-of-the-century mill culminating in a narrow escape from its fiery vat of molten steel.
- VICTORY FIELD (1930-1945) - The flight of the Wright brothers opened a new chapter in American history, bringing with it thrilling exploits and military advancements. With the assistance of modern technology, guests at Victory Field may parachute from a plane or operate tanks and weapons in combat, and experience firsthand what America's soldiers have faces in defense of freedom.
- STATE FAIR (1930-1945) - State Fair celebrates small town America at play with nostalgic recreation of such popular rides as a 60-foot Ferris Wheel and a classic wooden roller coaster, as well as a tribute to the country's favorite pastime, baseball. Amid a backdrop of rolling corn fields, fans may have a hot dog and take a seat in an authentic, old-fashioned ball park and watch America's legendary greats gather for an exhibition all-star competition.
- FAMILY FARM (1930-1945) - Offering a cornucopia of pastoral delights and insights into their production, Family Farm pays homage to the working farm - the heart of early American families. Visitors see how crops are harvested, learn how to make home-made ice cream or milk a cow, and wedding, barn dance, and buffet.
Some of these concepts were slightly re-themed, becoming part of Disney California Adventure Park, including the Bountiful Valley Farm (Family Farm), Grizzly River Run (Lewis and Clark Expedition raft ride), California Screamin' (State Fair roller coaster ride) as well as Condor Flats (Victory Field).
Proposed conversion of Knott’s Berry Farm
A conversion of Knott's Berry Farm (in Buena Park, near Disneyland) into Disney’s America was drafted shortly after the Knott family announced that they would take bids for its property. The idea for the conversion reportedly came from the exact replica of Independence Hall, which sits in the parking lot of Knott’s Berry Farm.
The plan called for stretching out the park’s entrance across the street to the Independence Hall replica. The new entrance to the park would then be built to resemble Walt Disney World's Liberty Square, although the name of the entrance would have been changed to Presidents' Square. The major attraction for this area would have included the Hall of Presidents.
Another section of the proposed park would have included the “Native American” territories as it would have paid tribute to America’s native people. The area would have included where the Mystery Lodge, Indian Trail, and Bigfoot Rapids are currently located. Also, Bigfoot Rapids would have had its name changed to The Lewis & Clark River Expedition, which was a similar attraction proposed for Virginia. This idea was eventually scrapped because the Imagineers felt it was an "inconsistent hybrid of thrills and education."
Other proposed ideas would have been the conversion of the former Roaring '20s section into the “Enterprise” territory. Reflection Lake would have been converted to Freedom Bay, and would have showcased a recreation of the Ellis Island immigration center. Finally, the Old Ghost Town section of Knott's Berry Farm would have been mostly unchanged. Camp Snoopy and Fiesta Village probably also would have been converted into different “territories”.
The California Disney's America project was canceled due to several reasons. One was a lack of a practical means to transport guests from the Disneyland Resort to Disney’s America, ruling that a monorail system would be too expensive; also noting that bus transportation would not have been practical. The main factor was that the Knott family had rejected Disney's bid since they were afraid that the Imagineers would replace much of what their parents had originally built. Ironically, Cedar Fair (the company that bought Knott's Berry Farm in 1997) removed more original features from the park than Disney's plans would have done, although keeping the Knott's name and layout intact; many of these removed features were later reinstalled when former Disneyland president Matt Ouimet became president of Cedar Fair.
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