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A Disney Vision for Washington DC
Posted September 2nd, 2013 in Blog and tagged , , by Rick Hill

images (15)In the early 1950,s, in the face of a declining amusement park industry, Walt Disney conceptualized Disneyland based loosely on Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen Denmark, which had opened in 1843 as a public amusement garden themed around the stories of Hans Christian Anderson.  On July 17, 1955 Disneyland opened in Anaheim, with a formula of year round good weather, large parking areas, and easy highway access.  His blueprint included a traditional American main street with retail shops and concessions and themed lands with rides and shows borrowed from children fairy-tales and an overall sense of nostalgic community.

 

Disney’s underlying business model included two highly profitable strategies: feeding and housing guests and selling goods.  As Disney expanded and perfected its formula in Orlando, it became so efficient at moving, feeding, selling, housing people and telling stories, the company actually considered opening a visitor center, hotels and tours in at least one major U.S. city where the existing parks, museums and memorials would be the attraction. 

 

Disney executives reasoned that in a major city they did not need to create history or the attractions.  All the company needed to do was tell the stories behind the existing attractions, and make money from transporting, housing and feeding their guests.  One target location was Washington, D.C where the visitor center, Hall of Presidents, a theater, and flagship hotel were to be located in the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a property my company managed for Wells Fargo Bank.

 

The Disney concept did not move forward for many reasons.  But Donald Trump, a character in his own right now owns the building with plans to convert it into a hotel.

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