In November 1993, Disney announced that it would be building a new theme park called Disney's America, which would, logically, focus on the history of the United States. The project was meant to, as explained in a press release, capture and celebrate America's "richness of diversity, spirit, and innovation.”
Disney hoped for a facility that could “host and televise political debates, public forums and gatherings of writers, educators, journalists, students and historians to discuss issues of the past, present, and future.” The company bought a 3,000-acre site in Prince William County, Virginia, selected partly because of its proximity to D.C., expecting that tourists to the nation’s capital would be interested in swinging by to see President Mickey after taking in the Lincoln Monument.
Among the park's planned themed areas was Crossroads U.S.A. serving as the hub, Native America with a Lewis & Clark whitewater river raft ride, We The People with an Ellis Island replica, Civil War Fort with a Circle Vision 360 film, State Fair with a Ferris wheel and wooden roller coaster, Family Farm where attendants could milk cows and make ice cream, President's Square with robot versions of each president, Enterprise with an Industrial Revolution roller coaster, and Victory Field with a simulated flight adventure.
While Disney's America initially found good favor after its announcement, less than two weeks after, Bob Weis, who is now the president of Walt Disney Imagineering, the company's arm responsible for the creation and construction of its theme parks, said in a press conference that slavery would be part of the park's concept. To say the least, people didn't respond positively to his comments.
“How can you do a park on America and not talk about slavery? This park will deal with the highs and lows . . . We want to make you feel what it was like to be a slave, and what it was like to escape through the Underground Railroad."
Head over to Atlas Obscura to read more and check out a few of the park's concept images below.
Native America With Lewis & Clark Attraction
Civil War Fort
We The People and Ellis Island
Feature image via Disney.