Alright, Disney fans, store this in the back of your head for that Jeopardy Daily Double question. Back in 1962, Walt Disney himself was in the process of negotiating a Disney Theme Park in St. Louis, MO. What could have been?
Walt Disney was approached by the organizers of the St. Louis Bicentennial. Their request was that he produce a film about the city. So impressed was Walt with the newly expanding downtown area and the almost complete Arch, he had a better idea.
With inspiration from his Missouri roots, Walt began plans for Riverfront Square. The location was planned about two blocks from Busch stadium. The five-story all indoor attraction would be topped off with an atrium ceiling. Complete with simulated weather and time of day. The project was on the table from 1963 to 1965 and Disney Imagineers got pretty far in their planning.
For Blueprints and Computer animations, watch the video in the St. Louis News (KSDK) article by clicking here.
The park was to be divided into two portions, Old St. Louis and Old New Orleans. The building would have overlooked the Mississippi with concessions, lounges and dining. The planned attractions included a Lewis and Clark Adventure ride, theaters, a Davey Crockett ride, an opera house and a pirate ship.
So where is Disney St. Louis? Many blame a public feud between Walt Disney and Augustus Busch, Jr. , who mocked Disney for thinking he could attract guests without serving liquor. More than likely the cost of acquiring the land was the major deterrent for Walt Disney. Especially considering the vast tract of land available for so cheaply in Orlando, Florida. I’m sure you know what happened there!
For an interview with Walt Disney on Augustus Busch, Jr. click here.
However, Disney fans can thank the St. Louis project for many of its most popular rides and attractions. Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Haunted Mansion were all derived from early plans for Riverfront Park. An all indoor park was later realized in Orlando’s DisneyQuest.
For More Details on Riverfront Park’s influence on Walt Disney World click here.
If you are ever in St. Louis, visit the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. That was the location originally planned for Disney St. Louis. Then take the time to enjoy St. Louis’ many treasures, namely that pretty famous Arch.
For more information on St. Louis’ use of the Riverfront Square property, click here.
Mickey Mom is a friend to several Missourians, and thanks Christina P. for giving her the heads up to this hidden treasure of a story.
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