May 30, 2023

Disneyland, Disney-Air and Disney-Sea

A couple folks are saying what Lexington Park needs is “a driver.”

By this they mean something as big as Disneyland. Well, not necessarily that big, but big enough and snazzy and jazzy enough to get people to Lexington Park, stop there and spend money.

Hmmmmm. How much bigger does a driver have to be than the Patuxent River Naval Air Station? Could a single community actually host two such extravagant tenants? Pax River NAS already pumps as much as $6.6 billion into Maryland’s economy (so say a bevy of Navy boosters) and drives 80 percent of the local economy.

The problem is that almost all of that 80 percent leapfrogs Lexington Park landing in more outlying piggy banks. Thus the operative question isn’t what the driver is, but what can make more of that money stick to Lexington Park.

I say a Disneyland of Naval Aviation.

There is no getting around the driver in Lexington Park, the only reason Lexington Park exists is the naval air station. Like it or lump it, the driver is in the room.  So capitalize on that.

Pax River incubates and percolates the greatest technological feats of military aviation in the history of the world. In this era of simulators and virtual reality Lexington Park should think, “Epcot Resort.”

Send visitors into orbit (at least virtually). Strap them into fighter planes roaring over the geography of Iraq or Afghanistan of Libya. There are clearly plenty of spots of interest. Out-pace Disney himself, produce life-size holograms of the United Nations players to walk among vacationers. Create small holographic dioramas of ground scenes for tourists to capture by manipulating satellite communications and unmanned aircraft.

Sticky? Yes. I think there could be a market.

It’s only one idea, though. It would be surprising if there weren’t dozen more ideas out there as well. It would be nice to hear more. Lots more. Because like it or lump it, the naval air station, whether you call it the driver or not,  is the meal ticket. Lexington Park needs to find itself a place in the chow line.