Featured Attractions

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Answers to DISNEYLAND: Freedomland, USA

When Walt Disney began construction on DISNEYLAND, he hired C. V. Wood to help with managing the vast project. Upon its completion, C. V. Wood initially stayed on to help manage the operation, but he soon began taking credit for things that he’d had nothing to do with as a way to line up new consulting jobs. He was soon fired and decided to get his revenge by constructing rivals to DISNEYLAND, none of which were particularly successful. The biggest and most ambitious of the projects was Freedomland, U.S.A.

Located on reclaimed landfill in The Bronx, Freedomland, U.S.A was shaped like the United States and featured a history theme. While not directly competing against DISNEYLAND, Freedomland, U.S.A was positioned as an east coast rival to the DISNEYLAND, making a trip out west to see Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom unnecessary. After some suspicious fires took place on the construction site, the park opened to acclaim in 1960. Unfortunately, the acclaim would be short lived.

A stagecoach accident created a controversy in the park’s first few months after it denied such an incident had taken place despite evidence to the contrary. Attendance was also not what it needed to be; guests initially found it to be too educational and not entertaining enough. Park operators quickly added more traditional amusements, toning down the educational aspects, which angered the park’s corporate sponsors. The park quickly began circling the drain.

By 1964, the park was on its last legs. The company declared bankruptcy, shuttering the park a mere four years after it opened. The park’s owners claimed that the nearby 1964 World’s Fair was drawing too many guests away from the park. They couldn’t seem to explain why the park was already having financial problems before the World’s Fair started, why they couldn’t seem to attract any of the millions of tourists brought into the area by the World’s Fair and why they would make the decision to permanently close the park when the World’s Fair was going to end forever in 1965. C.V. Wood’s claims of being one of the visionaries whose ideas made DISNEYLAND a success were mostly proved to be just puffery. By 1969, all of his post-DISNEYLAND projects had gone bankrupt and were closed.