Ghost Town may live up to its name after sale

Posted Thursday, April 3, 2003 3:46 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Efforts by the founder of the Ghost Town in the Sky to sell the theme park are raising concerns about this mountain town's tourist future. The park's chair lift broke twice last year and its roller coaster never opened, failing state inspections.

Read more from AP via The Charlotte Observer.

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Thursday, April 3, 2003 4:45 AM
That would be a shame if they closed. With its location being so sceni, it would fit right in with Herschend Family Entertainment (SDC)'s parks.

Please visit the small parks. We don't know what's happening behind the scenes

Thursday, April 3, 2003 4:45 AM
I don't think that closure of the park would have that great of an effect on the local economy there. I went to nearby Western Carolina University about 20 miles from Maggie Valley, and lived about 15 miles away. In five years living in the area I never visited the park, and I don't know many who do. The problems that plagued the park this past year fit in well with the perception of the park, a cheap little tourist attraction that even the tourists do not care about anymore. The area is dependent upon tourism, but that is provided by the Blue Ridge Parkway, people who come to see the changing of the colors in the Smokeys at autumn, and the casino just over the gap from Maggie Valley in Cherokee. It would be nice if the park survived, but it needs a lot of work not just a passive owner who agrees to keep it open and let it run on auto-pilot.

Big Kirby, while the area is scenic, one of the parks problems is that Dollywood is just about 30-40 minutes away and probably attracts away all the locals and most of the tourists. I do not see why SDC would want this park so close to one of their parks.
*** This post was edited by Enigma13 4/3/2003 9:48:58 AM ***
*** This post was edited by Enigma13 4/3/2003 9:49:24 AM ***

Thursday, April 3, 2003 7:42 AM
Sawblade5's avatar Enigma13, apperntly you haddn't heard of Celebration City being real close to SDC and yet SDC owns that park. This is why were commenting on why HFEC (SDC) should buy the park and do the same thing they did with it like they did with, what used to be Branson, USA (now Celebration City).

Chris Knight
Who is hoping to make it to his first SRM.
Bird Watching is Awesome I spoted this awesome bird of prey

Thursday, April 3, 2003 8:01 AM
When I visited this park, it was virtually empty. The owner was riding around in his golf cart and was very friendly. Even gave us a ride to The Red Devil. Speaking of which, this was an o.k. coaster but OMG was it in bad shape. I was shocked at the disarray it was in. I had to step over oil cans and old duct tape in the station. Most of the seats were not in use. But I rode anyway, over and over, just because there was no one else on it. Maybe I was just crazy! This park has been going down for awhile and I am surprised it has made it this long. I hate to see it happen because we really did have a good time in this "cheesy run down place". Lots of good memories.

I am SO ready to ride!

Thursday, April 3, 2003 8:22 AM
Sawblade 5, I did hear about Celebration City, in fact I know quite a bit about the project. Please do not assume that people are ignorant or write comments to suggest they are. There are much more effective ways to get a point across that does not make your audience hostile.

There is a major difference between the two situations, and that is ease of visiting both parks. SDC and CC are located in the same town, Branson, while Dollywood and Ghost Town are separated by a mountain range with only scenic bypasses connecting them. The logistics do not support a dual pass system or the idea that tourists will enjoy both parks in the same day. The parks are close enough together for Dollywood to totally dominate Ghost Town through competition, but separated enough to make some sought of joint venture not feasable. Speaking from experience as someone who knows the area, and also the habits of people visiting, it is unlikely that someone would head to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge in the day and back over to Ghost Town for the night. You can choose to believe me or not, but based on the logistics of the area it would be a dreadful business decision.
*** This post was edited by Enigma13 4/3/2003 1:24:49 PM ***

Thursday, April 3, 2003 10:17 AM
I visited Ghost Town in the Sky once, in 1997. My experiences match those stated above. Virtually no crowds, very laid back atmposphere, and yes unfortunately a roller coaster that had lots of seats out of service.

Despite that, I had a blast there. From the moment you pull off the side of the road to the 'ski lodge' looking front gate, then the adventure andanticipation continue with either the incline ride or the skyride. (Hmm, the place has a remarkable view, I wonder if they could get people to pony up $1-$2 just to ride the incline with only a scenic overlook up top.)

Once up top you have a fabulous view. Not to mention the park has a wonderful in park transportation system in the way of trams that take yo from place to place.

It has the makings for a really cool place, unfortuantely I suppose it doesn't have the money to realize that potential.

BTW: The laterals on the Red Devil are extreme.

For those who haven't been there, a short list of the 'unique' things they offer:

- Walk trhough haunted house, a seperate gravity house (see water go uphill and that sort of thing), a cool indoor scrambler, a terrific Dodgems ride, the coaster, which is a rare OD Hopkins looper with lap bars. Further up the hill (take the tram, is a wonderful, if stereotypical Ghost Town. (The parks pizza parlor serves "Tombstone Pizza", yes that Tombstone Pizza, they take it right out of the box and warm it up when you order it.), scenic train ride (and you can take food on the train), then in the very back the rides midway, which is on a steep hill. A competent collection of stantard carney rides. (Trabant, Tilt, Yo-Yo, Round Up, Paratrooper, etc) Stand outs are the Sea Dragon that runs parallel to a real nasty looking drop off (so close they don't flush load it, it only has openings on one side of the boat), not risky enough for you, try the Yo-Yo with the custom made pistol supports, that actually does swing out over the drop-off down the mountain. Don't look down!

When I went they also had a pan-for-gold, an Indian show, and an imitation knock-off Country Bear show,

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

Thursday, April 3, 2003 3:00 PM
Ghost Town is nothing similar to what it was in the 80's. Every ride worked, The Red Devil Had 2 Fully operational trains, and the park always seemed to be crowded, evan on those weekdays in September.

But then, Three Other Themeparks rose in the area. To the west, Dollywood had reopened (after its tenure as SDC TN) and was pulling in millions, despite that it was only 77 acres back in '86. To the North, a little Park called Tweetsie Railroad began drawing large crowds after they added some rides to there Railroad Museum and Western Town, and to the south Carowinds was becoming more popular with that big new Vortex coaster.

So , about '92 was when I recall Ghost Town first beggining to slip, when the park became dirty and you would see as many as 7 rides all closed at once.

I don't think that SDC/Herchends Ent. would purchase the park. Its way to close to Dollywood and the themes are to similar for the park to do much. Besides, no other Company in there right mind would purchase it anyways. It is a Nightmare on Hot days when a bunch of people are trying to get off the mountain.

"Grit Your Teeth, Bare The Load, Enjoy your ride, on Thunder Road"

Friday, April 4, 2003 9:48 AM
staticman00's avatar Six Flags doesn't have any parks in that region of the country... *scratches chin* I wonder.....

(prepares to be flamed)

Remember my face, I'll dig your grave...

Thursday, June 12, 2003 8:37 AM
I think the fate of "Ghost Town" in Maggie Valley is bittersweet. I remember the attraction in it's peak in the seventies. It was a wonderful concept by the Coburn family in the 60's. Unfortunately, it's not the 60's any more and the park has been in decline since.

I was associated with the park in a capacity from the beginning of the construction of the Red Devil until just a few years ago when economy and the deterioration of the park was more than I could bear.

The owner tends to try to 'save money' buy buying used equipment or rides from other parks or themepark shows. The Red Devil was no exception. I recall that the construction was was delayed with cost over runs and engineering errors. By the time the Red Devil was in it's intermittent operation, it's cost was much greater than had it been installed correctly.

One problem with the park, which is evident in it's decline is the man power. Unskilled maintenance crews, skeleton staffs, many of this labor is procured from local prison work release.

The beautiful Buck Mountain is probably permanently scared as non-public areas have been used as landfills or areas to simply discard old equipment. Some of the trails and old deteriorating buildings more resemble junk yards.

As far as the park's effect on local economy, in forty years there are many businesses in the valley have become established and will probably not feel an effect by the park's closing.

There was a time when employed were paid earlier in the week during peak summer months. That was so they could cash those checks at local convenience stores and be broke and sober so they would show up for work on the weekend. One particular store used to received a call to let them know to stock the coolers when 'payday' was early.

The ones who will probably feel the effect of "Ghost Town's" demise most will be the liability insurance carriers. A great percentage of per capita admission to the park is paid in premiums because of past claims. Our nickname for the two methods of access to the park were "Chair of Death" (for the chair lift) and the "Torture Rail" for the inoperational inclined railway.

During the years when "National Linen" operated the park, employ morale was at such a level that pockets on uniforms were sewn closed and routine strip searches were conducted because of employee theft.

In it's day, "Ghost Town" was quite an attraction. Perhaps a fund should be established now for environmental clean-up and a new use found for the land. That or perhaps it should simply be closed and remembered as a "Ghost Town.'


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