Did you know that in 1993 Walt Disney Company had plans to recreate #slavery with a park located near Manassas Civil War battlefields. The company’s plans were to allow guests to celebrate the diversity of the nation, the plurality and conflicts that defined the American character. All of this would have been done on a 3000 acre site in Prince William County in northern Virginia.
The plans also included a Civil War Fort, a Native American Indian Village, and a Civil War Era Village. Walt Disney wanted people to know what it felt like to be a slave and what it was like to escape through the Underground Railroad. In the small town of Thoroughfare, near the site location where Disney intended to construct exhibitions depicting slave life, grandchildren of slaves continued to live and work the land their ancestors had inherited following the end of the Civil War. Disney actually believed that the park would be a great learning experience.
But, there were concerns about the park right from the start by members of the #Black History Action Coalition. Many people felt that the portrayal of slavery would not be historically dignified or accurately portrayed. Disney’s then-chairman, Michael Eisner, responded to such criticism by saying that they were not “going to put people in chains.”
Mickey Mouse and friends will be there when the park opens in Northern Virginia by 1998, but there will be a re-created steel mill, not a castle, and runaway slaves, not pirates of the Caribbean.
In September 1994, facing opposition from critics who were concerned that the park would vulgarize history, pollute the surrounding area, and detract from nearby historical sites, Disney decided to abandon its plans for the Virginia park.