Disney's America project in the 90's was challenged at every turn

Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016 10:31 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the article:

“Building a Disney theme park based on American history seemed like a natural extension of the company’s focus on children and education, a perfect way of marrying our self-interest with a broader public interest,” writes Eisner.

But while Pocahontas might have represented the reinvigoration of the animation unit, no such renaissance awaited company’s Parks and Resorts division. Disney’s America would be one of Disney’s worst ideas and most public failures, a footnote in the company’s official history, one that has been largely forgotten.

Read more from Atlas Obscura.

Thursday, March 3, 2016 3:23 PM

I love learning about stuff like this. My interest in amusement parks not only includes what's on today's menu, but also what once was and what might've been. Especially lost Disney projects. Thanks for posting it.
The park seems like it would've been nice and the concept renderings are awesome, but that slavery things sounds just bizarre, and on many levels. Virginia is a likely choice given that it's the birthplace of America, but at the same time it's in the south and actual history already lives there. I guess I'm not surprised this didn't work out.

I'm fascinated by the notion that the Disney Princess came along in the nick of time to save Disney from ruin. I never thought about it like that, but I guess it could be true. Every successful business had a failure or two, it's part of the process of figuring out what works and what doesn't. (Hell, even Starbucks admits to one) While failures such as this arent likely to put them under, Disney mistakes are probably fairly costly, involving years of creative man power not to mention property and stuff like that. Let's hope and pray that all the new projects coming aren't duds or disappointments to discerning fans, because that would suck for everybody.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 4:17 PM

(Tiana’s image was used to sell watermelon-flavored candy)

Oh. Oh my.

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Friday, March 4, 2016 8:52 AM

Sort of related, but I was always impressed by the way the American Experience at Epcot, while a huge flag waving opportunity, is still pretty honest about the darker parts of history, including slavery, the civil war, exploitation of the Native Americans, women's rights. Of course, I think they still have Lance Armstrong in the closing film.

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Friday, March 4, 2016 5:30 PM

I was reading a book about Imagineering, and one of the fellows talked about they had felt it very important to address those less pleasant parts of America's history.

Speaking of sort of related, the building that houses the show is one of the few, or maybe the only, use of "reverse" forced perspective in a Disney park. Usually it's used to make things look taller -- like Cinderella's Castle, for example.

Here, though, they were building a five-story building that needed to look like a historically-appropriate two story building. Just always found that interesting.

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Friday, March 4, 2016 6:57 PM

Yeah, if you've ever gone up to the Chase lounge on the second floor, which is used at various times of year, that's the longest stair climb ever for one floor.

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