DISNEY SURRENDERS ON THEME PARK

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Walt Disney Co. has surrendered the latest battle of Bull Run and will seek to build its proposed $650 million American historical theme park on a less controversial site.

The company planned to put its fifth major theme park, Disney's America, on a 3,000 acre piece of land in Haymarket, Va., near the Civil War battlefield and other historic sites. But it ran into considerable opposition, some from historical and environmental groups, and some over anticipated traffic impact on the area about 35 miles from the nation's capital.

Opposition grew nationally when several prominent historians joined the fray, including Pulitzer prize winner David McCullough. Ken Burns, who created the popular PBS documentary "Civil War," also spoke against the park.

There was even a congressional hearing on the matter.

Several groups mounted TV, radio and print campaigns against the park, including one that appeared outside of Washington in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

Though Disney was well on its way to gaining final approvals for the project, it abandoned the park because of the controversy.

"Implicit in our vision for the park is the hope that it will be a source of pride and unity for all Americans," said Peter S. Rummell, president of Disney Design & Development Co. in a prepared statement. "We certainly cannot let a particular site undermine that goal by becoming a source of divisiveness."

Virginia is still "an ideal place" for the park, Mr. Rummell said, but other sites, including nearby Maryland, may be candidates. Possible Virginia locations are along the Interstate 95 corridor between Washington and Richmond or the Williamsburg area.

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