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What would a trip to Disney's America have been like?

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What would a trip to Disney's America have been like?

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Disney's America.

It's been over 10 years since the Walt Disney Company first announced its intentions to build a 400-acre history-based theme park in Prince William County, VA. Most Disneyana fans already know the story of how this project got scuttled. But few folks actually understand what the Mouse had intended to do with "Disney's America."

The project's critics always took the simple route. That Disney's America was just going to be another Disneyland and/or Disney World. Which meant that quaint little Haymarket, VA. was going to become Anaheim or Orlando revisited. A small town that would have to grow up too fast. Which meant that the pristine Virginia countryside would soon be loaded with fast food joints & sleazy motels.

Whereas the Imagineers ... They had always thought that Disney's America was going to be a real departure from the Disneyland & Disney World template. A whole new Disney vacation experience, if you will.

Okay. Given that WDI's original plans for the Disney's America project called for a theme park, a series of hotels, a retail & dining district, a water park, a campground as well as a convention center ... Maybe the Virginia project wasn't actually that big a departure from the Disneyland / Disney World template. But what excited the Imagineers most about Disney's America was the challenge of the thing. That -- for the first time ever -- the Walt Disney Company was going to try & take guests outside of the berm into the real world, but still deliver a Disney quality experience.

Do you wonder what that might have been like? What your typical tourist would have experienced during their trip to Disney's America. Then here ... Let me share a copy of a sample itinerary for the resort that an Imagineer friend was nice enough to slip me a few years back:

DAY ONE: Guest and family fly into Dulles International Airport, eager to begin their Disney America vacation. After boarding their complimentary Disney transportation (A.K.A. a bus), the guests are whisked out of Washington DC and make the hour long trip out to Falls Church, Va. En route, a Disney produced film plays on the buses' onboard display system, prepping the guest for all the fun that lies ahead of them at the Disney's America resort.

Once the guest and family arrive at their on-site Disney hotel, they'd check in around 3pm. After settling into their hotel room, they'd then journey over to Disney's America for a quick peek at the park. Once the park closes that evening, the guests would then return to their hotel and grab a quick bite to eat in a Disney owned and operated restaurant.

DAY TWO: Guest and family board a Disney tour bus for a trip out to Gettysburg. En route, a Disney produced film would play on the buses' display system and explains the significant events of the Civil War that led up to Gettysburg. Once at the battlefield, the group's official Disney Tour guide would take these tourists on a special tour of the battlefield. On the trip back to the Disney's America resort, another specially produced film would be played. Which would cover the significant historic events that happened in the Civil War after Gettysburg.

Once back at Disney's America, guest and family could spend the evening exploring the resort's shopping & dining complex before returning -- exhausted but happy -- to their Disney owned hotel.

DAY THREE: Guest and family spend most of their day touring the Disney's America theme park. (Alright, So they do slip out of the park for a few hours to enjoy that Disney water park, but they're still back in time to grab dinner inside the park as well as catch the nightly fireworks display over the lagoon!)

DAY FOUR: Guest and family board another Disney bus. This time around, they're taking a trip into Washington DC to see the sights with their Disney Tour Guide. Depending on which tour group they opted to join, they could take part in a special Disney-led tour of the Smithsonian or just enjoy a narrated drive around the nation's capital to see the sights.

By late afternoon, the bus returns the guest and family to the Disney's America Resort. They spend one more night exploring the retail & dining complex, head back to their Disney owned hotel room to rest up for their trip home.

DAY FIVE: Guest and family pack up and check out of their Disney-owned hotel. They then take their Disney operated bus back to the airport. En route, they view videos that hype other Disney theme parks as well as upcoming Disney films.

Get the idea? Disney didn't just want to build a theme park out in the woods of Virginia that guests could see in a day. But -- rather -- the Imagineers envisioned Disney's America as the base of operations for a whole new type of Disney vacation experience.

Sure, the theme park would have been a big draw for the resort. But the Mouse also hoped that guests would come to Disney's America to take some of the day trips the company would offer out of Falls Church. These tours -- aboard Disney buses, led by Disney trained guides -- would have offered guests access to dozens of historical sites with 100 miles of the resort. The Imagineers hoped that -- by using Disney's well known talent for telling tales as a way of to make American history really come alive -- that they could then offer guests an entertaining as well as informative vacation experience.

That was the real key to Disney's America, folks. The Virginia project was never intended to compete with Disneyland or Walt Disney World and cut into their market share. But -- rather -- Disney had always hoped that their Falls Church development would serve as an alternative to Anaheim and Orlando. A place that would offer guests a multi-day vacation experience with some real substance, but yet keep those all important tourist dollars pouring straight into Mickey's wallet.

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