Army Shoots Down Military Theme Park Proposal

According to the Washington Post, the Army is not interested in adding a theme park to their plans for a history museum. The proposed museum and entertainment complex will be located in Fort Belvoir, Virginia in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Army officials approached Universal Studios for strategies to make the museum more attractive to today’s audiences. Early reports referenced a proposal submitted by a Florida developer for a military theme park.

Army spokesman Dave Foster said yesterday that the Army did approach Universal Studios, but only for information about using “so-called 4-D experiences” within the museum. The subsequent proposal from Universal City was “grander in scope than what the Army thought appropriate,” Foster said. Universal was welcome to submit a future proposal, but “in no event would any proposal containing what might be characterized as an ‘amusement park’ be . . . seriously considered,” he said.

The Army’s denial to build the park should put to rest the debates over whether such an attraction should exist. The initial proposal included rides that would give visitors control of tanks and attack helicopters. Critics were arguing that a military-themed park would romanticize war.

While I can see the need for the museum planners to make the Army museum more of a draw, I am glad that they are not moving forward with the theme park. As a coaster enthusiast, I love theme parks and the possibility of having one in my backyard is exciting. But, the idea of large scale war-themed attractions built by the Army seems inappropriate. On the other hand, I have no problem playing war-themed video games. Some would argue that they romanticize war as well.

The planned history museum, adjacent hotel, and conference center will still get much local attention. Local officials and residents are concerned about the impact of a tourist destination on area traffic. The Washington D.C. area had the third-worst traffic congestion in the U.S., behind Los Angeles and San Francisco, in 2005. In the nineties, a proposed Disney theme park met so much opposition that it was never built.