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Disney From The Twenty-Something: The American Adventure

Caitlin CorselloWhile there are many places throughout Walt Disney World that can be considered patriotic, the shining example can be found in Epcot’s World Showcase. The American Adventure is a celebration of the people and all that they have accomplished in a few hundred years told through art, audio animatronics, music, and history. Let’s check out the history of The American Adventure and what makes it such a fantastic attraction to visit.

Opening with Epcot on October 1, 1981, The American Adventure was purposely placed directly across World Showcase Lagoon by Imagineers to be one of the first sights guests would see upon transitioning from Future World into World Showcase. The grand building was inspired by many places including Colonial Williamsburg, Independence Hall, and Monticello. The desire was to create a building that looks like a colonial manor house so that it looked approachable and not too official or governmental. The edifice was styled in English Georgian architecture that was common in America during the 18th century reigns of Kings George I through the IV and features over one hundred thousand Georgian bricks. In addition there are Greek revivalist porticos, stone quoined corners, a clock and bell tower, and of course a red, white, and blue color scheme.

Once inside the attraction’s building, guests will find themselves in a grand lobby featuring artwork, inspirational historic quotes, and a massive thirty five foot tall rotunda with a ten foot dome. Some of the artwork in the lobby pays direct homage to the Imagineers who worked on the attraction. Just inside the entrance, look for a silhouette that is of original show director Rick Rothschild. On the second floor of the lobby, look for a painting depicting a Thanksgiving dinner done by Imagineer Sam McKim and featuring his son Brian as the boy with the dog and Imagineer Harriet Burns as the mother. In the center of the rotunda before every showing of the attraction, there is also an amazing performance by the a cappella group Voices of Liberty. The group performs in traditional colonial garb and is one of the best live performances in Epcot, so be sure to leave some extra time to check them out!

As guests make their way up the escalators to the second floor to enter the theater, they pass through the Hall of Flags which proudly displays dozens of flags from different periods of American history. Once inside the 1024 seat theater, guests can view statues on either side of the massive stage which depict the spirits of America including Innovation, Knowledge, and Independence. The stage itself is one hundred and thirty feet by fifty feet and the screen is the largest rear projection screen ever at twenty eight feet by one hundred and fifty five feet. Throughout the show, there are many large props, scenes, and animatronics which are lifted into place by a one hundred and seventy five ton scene changer which slides the sets horizontally into place and lifts them to the stage using telescoping hydraulic supports.

The show itself celebrates the people of the United States and whenever possible is narrated from the point of view of a common man. The main hosts of the show are audio-animatronic versions of Ben Franklin, voiced by Dallas McKennon, and Mark Twain, voiced by Jack Albertson. Originally, the attraction was going to have a narrator from the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s and was supposed to also include Will Rogers, however Imagineers dubbed that too complicated and stuck with Franklin and Twain. Franklin and Twain take guests through the history of the people through the use of animatronic, art, and video clips. Keeping with historically accurate details, any moment depicted that is before the invention of the camera is told through artwork or any of the thirty five featured audio-animatronics.

The show covers great moments in our history including the signing of the Constitution, the Boston Tea Party, Pearl Harbor, the Civil Rights Movement, September 11th, and historical figures including Teddy Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. A significant part of the show focuses on the Civil War and includes the story of “Two Brothers” who each fought on different sides of the war set to a song of the same title by Irving Gordon. The two brothers are played by Imagineers John Olson and Jeff Burke and the scene at the Mullers Landing Train Depot was shot in Disneyland’s Frontierland. Imagineers Marty Sklar, John Hench, and Randy Bright can also be spotted as part of the crowd in a scene depicting a painting of a victory parade.

The attraction’s main song is titled “Golden Dreams” and is a sweeping musical number written by Randy Bright and Robert Moline and performed by Richard Page and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The song is featured prominently during the finale of the thirty minute show as a sun rises over the next chapters of the people’s history and curtains open behind the statues of the spirits of America continuing the sunrise. It’s truly a spectacular and dramatic finale to an equally amazing show.

The American Adventure takes guests on a celebratory journey through the history of their people and highlights just how far they have come and how far they can go in the future. Between the Voices of Liberty and the show itself, The American Adventure is a must see on any visit to Epcot!

What is your favorite part of the American Adventure? Enjoy the song “Golden Dreams”? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!

(Photos from my personal collection.)