US Army theme park planned for D.C. area

Proposal would join museum in 125-acre complex

August 8, 2006 - Devin Olson

Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, VA, USA -

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Prime Real Estate: The site proposed by a developer for an Army theme park would border the Potomac River, just south of the Nation's Capital in Fairfax County.
Imagine paratrooping from hundreds of feet in the air, flying through a combat zone and fighting against insurgents, all before you get back to the loading platform. Now open your eyes.

The United States Army's base realignment may not be the only change coming to the Fort Belvoir base just south of Washington, D.C. Recently, the Army announced the construction of the National Museum of the US Army at Fort Belvoir along with an adjacent hotel and conference center. Now, it seems, those plans could exceed all expectations.

The Army is considering a private developer's proposal for a theme park for the 125-acre complex, to be constructed at the Fort Belvoir Engineer Proving Ground. The site is located near Springfield, Virginia, between I-95 and the Potomac River, providing accessibility along with scenery.

Last year, Orlando's Universal City Property Management III quietly submitted a proposition for the theme park. The Washington Post uncovered a copy of the proposal, which explains that guests would have the ability to "command the latest M-1 tank, feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall, fly a Cobra Gunship or defend [their] B-17 as a waist gunner."

The Army had teamed up with Disney and Universal Studios to help with museum concepts. Originally, the museum was to be built closer to the main portion of Fort Belvoir and slated to debut in 2009. However, the museum was soon postponed by two years. Just last week, those plans were officially shifted to the Proving Ground and delayed by two more years, putting the grand opening at 2013.

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Fates Recalled: None of the three major theme parks proposed for the D.C. area over the past more than thirty years have materialized.
Local officials have begun expressing concern over potential traffic congestion, a common downfall for development projects in the Washington D.C. region.

Northern Virginia has a more than thirty-year history of proposed theme parks that failed to leave the drawing boards. When the Marriott hotel chain was creating theme parks in California and Illinois during the mid-1970s, the proposed location for a third park in Manassas failed due to the area's historic significance. The most well-publicized instance occurred in 1993 when Disney unveiled plans to construct its own third American park location several miles away in Haymarket, but once again, historic concerns scrapped the park. Finally, a Legoland park proposed in the later nineties met the same fate.

However, being that the proposal casualties were all the brainchilds of private developers, any park approved by the Army to be built on federal land is more of a sure-fire probability.

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