The American way and patriotism ring loudly across Disney World. Let’s start in the Magic Kingdom (as usual). You see the American spirit right when you go through the turn stiles and see the first American flag of many and the train station from years gone by. Once you get into town square look around and you will see that you are transported to a small town in America, with a town hall, a fire station, barber shop, exposition hall and a small park in the center complete with a statue of a few prominent figures, Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse. As you stroll right down the middle of Main Street USA, there are many more American flags lining the roof tops, but the feeling you get is more. There are are friendly faces of people dressed in early 1900′s attire, that wave as you walk (or ride in a stroller) down the street. As you continue down Main Street you may also start to notice the time period you are in, with hitching posts in front of the stores and horse drawn trolleys beginning to give way to automobiles. You might even hear a barber shop quartet as you make your way toward the castle, so take a look around as you make your “bee line” toward your first attraction.
As we go deeper into the park we come across a land dedicated to patriotism and the patriots that made it possible, Liberty Square. Even before you enter this land (from the hub) the signs are plentiful and in case you miss the clues there is even a plaque that tells of the time period you are entering. It reads, “Past this gateway stirs a new nation waiting to be born. Thirteen separate colonies have banded together to declare their independence from the bonds of tyranny. It is a time when silversmiths put away their tools and march to drums of a revolution, a time when gentlemen planters leave their farms to become generals, a time when tradesmen leave the safety of home to become heroes. Welcome to Liberty Square!”. In this land you can find the Hall of Presidents, the Liberty Tree Tavern, the Liberty Belle River Boat, a replica of the Liberty Bell, the court of flags representing the thirteen original colonies and the Colombia Harbour House. All of which represent the birth of a nation and the spirit of America. To find out in more detail about this land look back at the article titled Liberty Square. As we exit Liberty Square and go to Frontierland there is no shortage of the spirit. This land embodies the American adventure as we expanded west. In the theme there are saloons representing the Midwest, Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn where you can find a bite to eat and decorations depicting characters from American folklore. As we travel a little further down we are treated to an entire attraction dedicated to American folklore in Splash Mountain. Here we follow the tale of Brer Rabbit in an adaptation of American journalist/author Joel Chandler Harris’ collective works. After Splash Mountain we hit the California gold rush at Thunder Mountain complete with real gold mining equipment. Across the way is Tom Sawyer’s Island where we can live the adventures Mark Twain wrote about and explore Fort Langhorne on the edge of the American frontier. Look at the article titled Conquering the old west in Frontierland for more information.
Heading over to Epcot, you will find the best tribute to America in all of Walt Disney World, the American Adventure, starting with the “three story building” (it’s actually five stories but to make it historically accurate they have used force perspective). The building is adorned with flags and has a colonial look to it. Once you enter the building there are many items to explore, from paintings on the wall, antique furniture and famous historical quotes. There is also a museum of sorts that changes from time to time so be sure to check it out on your next visit. When queuing up to go into the theater you are escorted through the hall of flags that holds a replica of each incarnation of the American flag. After going up the stairs or escalator you are treated to more artifacts before going through the doors to the American Adventure. Upon entering the theater there are statues lining the walls on the left and right. These statutes represent the American spirit, so be sure to take a look. The show is a trip through the history of America. The story is told by Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin who guide us through the journey of the American Adventure. We start with settlers coming to this new land before it was America and how they wanted to be free from English rule. As a historically accurate story, Franklin tells of the Boston Tea Party, and the days leading up to the revolution. We then enter the war and witness a concerned General Washington over looking his troops at Valley Forge. Next we see a developing nation where there is a rift starting between the north and south with Frederick Douglas talking about slavery. We then hear two brothers arguing the points of view of the north and the south. This leads into the song Two Brothers, in which the lyrics tell the story of the Civil War separating families and pitting family members against each other and some not returning home. Franklin talks about our story of a growing nation with the arrival of immigrants to a somewhat more settled America, and is interrupted by Chief Joseph speaking out about how the Native Americans are hunted like animals and that we should all be brothers in this great land. After a profound speech by Chief Joseph the story is then lightened for a bit showing the progress in technology with the telephone, steel structures being built, airplanes and the creation of our national parks. After celebrating our new advances, we are soon plunged into World War I. The show then hits the Great Depression with a dismal scene of men sitting in front of an old gas station listening to the radio while waiting out a rain storm. As the storm begins to clear the newly elected president, Franklin Delanor Roosevelt speaks of hope for tomorrow stating, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. The radio program continues with Will Rogers speaking of a brewing World War II and how we should support our Navy and prepare for war. The next scene shows women taking over the work force while working on a submarine damaged by the war America has entered. The scene ends with the women hoping “the boys” will be home by next Christmas. This is followed by a video montage of events and people from the end of World War II to the current day set to the song of Golden Dream (which we love to listen to at home). The show ends with Twain and Franklin standing atop the Statue of Liberty’s torch talking about the promise of a brighter future.
Over at Hollywood Studios there is plenty celebrating the American spirit from the Streets of America showing the skyline of San Francisco and the facades of New York City displaying famous landmarks. Walking down the street gives you the feeling of being in New York City with the subway stairs and fire hydrant spraying out to cool off the kids on a hot summer day. Here we also have the American Film Institute located just off the Streets of America. The American Film Institute takes us on a tour of the last 100 years of American film. There are costumes and show pieces on display to walk around and enjoy. Lastly let us not forget Sam Eagle at Muppet Vision 3D. Here, Sam is in charge of the finale which is “A salute to all nations, but mostly America”.
The parks are not the only places that show the American spirit. Take the Wilderness Lodge celebrating the American sense of adventure, or the shores of New Jersey at the Boardwalk. There are also other American points of interest represented by hotels, the Yacht and Beach Club representing Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Old Key West Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort showing America’s history in horse racing. In the moderate resorts Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter symbolize Louisiana culture. At the value resorts Pop Century has American pop culture, Music Resort celebrates our music, All Star Resort has our sports history.
As you can see there is no shortage of the American spirit in Disney World. I am sure I forgot a few examples, but you get the idea. If you would like to share one of your examples leave a comment here or on twitter @disneyhelp.