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    The American Adventure

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Description And Comments

The American Adventure demonstrates how good Disney theater presentations can be. It’s not without it’s shortcomings, though.

Housed in an imposing brick structure reminiscent of Colonial Philadelphia, the 29-minute show is a stirring, albeit sanitized, rendition of American history, narrated by an animatronic Mark Twain (who carries a burning cigar) and Ben Franklin. Behind a stage almost half the size of a football field is a 28-by-155–foot rear-projection screen— the largest ever used—on which motion picture images are interwoven with onstage action.

The production rouses patriotic emotion in some viewers but drowsiness in others. A man from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, writes:

I saw The American Adventure about 10 years ago and snoozed through it. I tried it again and it was still ponderous. I’ll try it again in 10 years.

The American Adventure’s scale is both its strength and its weakness: It takes time and money, after all, to mount a presentation this big, which explains why no new stage scenes have been added or updated since the show opened almost 40 years ago. In the meantime, our understanding of America’s history and its role in the world has evolved, but the show hasn’t kept pace: Topics such as racism, equality, and the environment, for example, are treated as solved problems instead of the ongoing challenges they are. This Erie, Pennsylvania, couple resented what they saw as Disney’s squeakyclean take on American history:

The American Adventure glosses over America’s dark points. For example, it neatly cuts out the audio about who bombed Pearl Harbor (at Epcot, after all, Japan is right next door). Why not focus on the natural beauty of America, its ethnic diversity, its contributions to world society?

But an Iowa City, Iowa, father of three thinks a lot of people are missing the point:

Cramming all of American history into a 20-minute flick is no easy task, and face it, a theme park is hardly the place for a wholly objective, serious critique of the United States. I think that it's perfectly appropriate for the film, as an attraction in Epcot, to emphasize what's good about the United States.

Touring Tips

The American Adventure is Disney’s best patriotic attraction. The largest crowds usually appear from around 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., but it isn’t hard to get into: Because of the theater’s large capacity, it’s highly unusual not to be admitted to the next performance.

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