Disney owns several beloved theme parks around the world. However, there have been some ideas that never made it to development, like Disney’s America.

In the early 1990s, The Walt Disney Company was looking into expanding their parks. They specifically wanted to start expanding the Disneyland Resort on the West Coast as they had already expanded Walt Disney World with Epcot, MGM Studios, and several more resort hotels. Disney’s Animal Kingdom may or may not have been in development around this time as well. The Walt Disney Company also desired to create a theme park based solely on United States history. This is where the idea for a park called “Disney’s America” came from.

The original concept for Disney’s America was supposed to take place in the northeastern United States, where many US historical sites were already located. It was likely going to be in Virginia, near Washington D.C.

The park would have had ‘territories’ instead of themed lands. Each territory was going to be themed after different United States time periods. The nine proposed lands were:

  • Civil War Fort (1850-1870): This area would have taken place during the American Civil War and showcased the history there with reenactments. Civil War Fort would have also been the location for the signature Disney Park nighttime show.
  • Enterprise (1870-1930): Enterprise would have been built like an old factory town during the Industrial Revolution. It would have displayed and celebrated the inventions, progress, and ingenuity of the time. There also would have been a roller coaster in this area called the Industrial Revolution. Seriously.
  • Native America (1600-1810): It would have been a recreation of a Native American village from the time period. The big attraction here would have been a whitewater rafting ride.
  • Family Farm (1930-1945): An authentic-looking family farm full of hands-on learning experiences.
  • President’s Square (1750-1800): The Hall of Presidents attraction from the Magic Kingdom would have been either replicated or relocated to this area.
  • State Fair (1930-1945): This land would have been based on the Midwest carnivals and would have featured a Ferris Wheel and a wooden roller coaster.
  • Victory Field (1930-1945): This area seems like it could have been pretty intense but also fun and educational. Victory Field would have allowed guests to experience what it was like to be a soldier in the World Wars with the help of virtual reality.
  • Crossroads USA (1800-1850): Crossroads would have been an antebellum-era village. It would have been the main hub of the park.
  • and We the People (1870-1930): A replica of the Ellis Island building would have stood in this area, along with food, music, and shows.

When the idea for Disney’s America was leaked, the public was outraged. People did not want Disney to ruin the historical landmarks and other tourist attractions in the northeastern US. They feared Disney would drive guests away from the real historical landmarks while also whitewashing or glorifying the history behind them.

It was so bad, that the Walt Disney Company had to cancel their plans for Disney’s America. That was until Disney heard that the Knott family was trying to sell Knott’s Berry Farm.

Around this exact time that Disney was looking to expand their West Coast Disneyland Resort, the Knott’s children had been running the Knott’s Berry Farm company for several years after the deaths of their parents. They decided to sell the company, though.

The timing seemed perfect. Disney was looking to expand, and the nearby theme park - which is less than 20 minutes away by car - was looking to sell. But was it really a match made in heaven?

Disney Imagineers visited Knott’s Berry Farm to see the property and were apparently not impressed. Nonetheless, they still wanted to purchase the company to create Disney’s America there because they loved Walter’s Independence Hall replica. With the plans for Disney’s America already publicized, the Knott family already had a good idea of what Disney would have done to their park.

Even though Disney’s offer was probably very tempting, the Knott’s children did not want to see their parent’s dream and theme park be demolished and ruined by The Walt Disney Company. Instead, they sold the theme park to Cedar Fair Entertainment. They sold the food business to ConAgra Foods and they eventually sold the food business to Smucker’s. So, next time you enjoy some Smucker’s jelly, you can thank Knott’s Berry Farm.