" In 'Disney's America' we will create a totally new concept using the different strengths of our entertainment company -- our motion picture and television talent, our park Imagineers, our interactive media and publishing executives as well as our sports enterprise and education executives -- to celebrate those unique American qualities that have been our country's strengths and that have made this nation the beacon of hope to people everywhere," Eisner said. " We bring seventy years of entertainment experience -- many of them creating the world's most original parks -- to this project."
The park will be located on a 3,000-acre site the company has purchased or optioned in Prince William County.
Peter Rummell, president of Disney Design and Development Company, said the new park will differentiate itself from all others in both subject matter and presentation. Said Rummell, " 'Disney's America' will allow guests to celebrate the diversity of the nation, the plurality and conflicts that have defined the American character."
Bob Weis, senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering, in charge of the project's creative development, said the park is envisioned as " an ideal complement to visiting Washington's museums, monuments and national treasures."
" Beyond the rides and attractions for which Disney is famous, " said Weis, " the park will be a venue for people of all ages, especially the young, to debate and discuss the future of our nation and to learn more about its past by living it."
The park will have facilities to 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 Disney-inspired American Teacher Awards also will be broadcast from the site.
At "Disney's America" guests may also find themselves piloting a World War II fighter by way of virtual reality or participating in a harrowing Lewis and Clark river expedition inside a Native American Indian Village or in the center of Revolutionary War and Civil War Battle re-enactments. They will even have an opportunity to meet every American president through the magic of Disney's Audio- Animatronics (R) technology.
" Disney's America" will include a number of unique guest experiences:
---- Entering the park, guests will find themselves in a detailed Civil War era village, which is the hub of " Disney's America."
---- From there guests may venture to Presidents' Square, celebrating the birth of democracy and those who fought to preserve it.
---- Native America explores the life of America's first inhabitants and offers an exciting white water river raft expedition.
---- Civil War Fort plunges guests into the most turbulent time in American history, and outside its ramparts the historic battle of the Monitor and Merrimac will once again be fought.
---- We the People introduces the compelling immigrant experience through music, ethnic foods and a powerful multimedia presentation, all inside a building resembling Ellis Island.
---- Enterprise, a factory town, highlights American ingenuity and features a high speed thrill attraction called the " Industrial Revolution."
---- Victory Field lets guests experience what America's soldiers faced in the defense of freedom.
The location of the park and many of its historic themes are closely tied to the importance of the Commonwealth of Virginia to American history. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in North America. The surrenders ending both the American Revolution and the Civil War occurred in Virginia. Four Virginians (Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe) were among the first five presidents of the Republic, serving a total of 32 years of the country's first 36 years of life. The state is called the " Mother of Presidents" because a total of eight presidents (the others being Zachary Taylor, John Tyler, William Henry Harrison and Woodrow Wilson) were born there. The state also counts among it most famous native sons important figures such as Booker T. Washington.
In commerce and inventiveness, Virginia also is rich in historic heritage. It was the site of the first manufacturing plant in the U.S., the first iron furnace, the country's first transportation canal, the state where the mechanical reaper was invented, and location of what is believed to be the oldest daily newspaper in the Republic.
" Disney's America" which includes the park and recreation area on 1,200 acres will create nearly 3,000 jobs, making The Walt Disney Company the largest private employer in Prince William County. Direct and indirect economic activity generated by the project will result in $1.5 billion in new tax revenues for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Prince William County over the next 30 years. Of that, approximately $1 billion will go to the state and $500 million to the county, Disney officials estimate.
The Walt Disney Company will work with state and county officials over the next several months to put together a package of public improvements that will make the project possible. They also will consult with local residents and businesses throughout the planning of the project.
While long-term plans are not final, The Walt Disney Company proposes to build a golf course, residences, hotels and mixed use development of the remaining land, much of which was slated to become the Waverly Farms housing development. The projected facilities, like the park, would be surrounded by greenbelts and open spaces for the benefit of the environment and neighbors.
" Disney's America" could open as early as 1998 if agreements are reached with state and county governments. The Prince William site is currently the only one under consideration.
" There is quite a bit of work ahead of us and many hurdles to overcome", said Rummell. " But The Walt Disney Company is very excited and very enthusiastic about this project and is committed to making it become a reality."
" Disney's America" will be the company's third location for a U.S. park, joining Disneyland in Southern California and The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Other Disney parks are located in France and Japan.