In November 11th, 1993, Disney announced that they would be taking their brand of magic put of Orlando, and up the coast towards the birthplace America. Disney’s America was to occupy some 3,000 acres in Virginia, and was to be a huge new park and resort, designed around the history of the area, and the birth of a nation. Fast forward 20 years, and a college is being closed, and the land purchased by a mysterious investor. Could we be seeing the rebirth of an old plan, or is something else happening?
Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, roughly 12 miles north of Lynchburg. The college is a leading liberal arts and science college for women, and one of the best rated and well received in the nation. It also has a rich history, dating back to the early 1900’s.
In March, the college announced it would be closing at the end of the summer, due to “insurmountable financial challenges”.
This is despite an alleged $94 million dollar endowment, and an additional $16 million dollars raised through social media efforts in the past few weeks. Plus, while the college is in debt, it’s allegedly not that much in debt. Still, the college is in a rush to close down it’s campus, which is the biggest employer in the county.
Why the rush? According to the “School of Athens” blog the real reason the school is closing because it has a buyer. Not only a buyer, but none other than Disney.
The college sits on 3,000 acres which would be a great site for a theme park. As the site points out, Disney would have the pockets and political influence to purchase the land, despite any public pressure and political barriers. The entertainment company is also always looking for new ways to expand the brand, and has created resorts in both Hawaii and Vero Beach, away from any theme park traffic.
If the company isn’t looking at a theme park, then perhaps a vacation resort.
Before you start planning your trips, however, there are a few things.
School of Athens describes itself as a “pro Republican blog”. It doesn’t deal with Disney, but it does deal with a lot of conspiracy theories, most of which involving goverment coverups. While it’s possible, it’s very unlikely that there is a sale waiting to happen.
Another red flag is that a Virginia Supreme Court Ruling has blocked the closing of the college. While the land that the college occupies might be a great development opportunity, Disney would not make a commitment to buy so early in the game, especially with many legal issues still involved.
The other red flag is the location. Western Virginia is a beautiful area, but it’s not exactly a tourist destination on the level of Williamsburg, Orlando or Hawaii. It’s about three hours outside of Washington DC.
When Disney chose Virginia before it chose Haymarket, VA for the site, which is just under 2 hours. While the area could see a boost from a major destination like Disney, would the company take the risk?
The company is seeing unprecedented growth in Asia currently, and has a new park coming on line in Shanghai next year. There are also rumors of a third theme park in California, as well as massive expansions in many of the current parks. With all that going on, would a new park in an entirely different location be plausible?
It’s possible that if Disney isn’t looking at a new park in the area, that another park could. Virginia already has two major theme parks, with Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion celebrating huge anniversaries this year.The area could support a third, but would it be that far off from the others in location?
We’ll keep following this rumor to see what happens.