The Backpage: The diaspora of Opryland USA

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 12:17am
0702 Opryland sky ride main.jpg
The Skyride car available for purchase at Nashville Pickers (Eric England/SouthComm)

Opryland USA, oh how we rue the day that long-since-departed executives at Gaylord decided to shut down our beloved theme park. And they replaced it with ... a shopping mall. It still hurts.

The destruction of the park is considered by sources close to The Backpage as one of the dumbest decisions in Nashville history. Even current Gaylord CEO Colin Reed, who joined the company three years after the park was torn down, has called the decision a “bad idea.”

In an effort to rectify said bad idea, we here at The Backpage have done our best to track down what has become of the rides that made up our theme park. From conversations with current Gaylord employees and a little research, we have found how you can still ride Opryland rides that were sold and are now being held hostage by other theme parks. Travel is involved.


The rides

The Rock n’ Roller Coaster was originally known as the Timber Topper until the trees along the ride grew taller than the highest peak of the track. Now known as the Canyon Blaster, it is at Six Flags Great Escape in Lake George, N.Y.

The Old Mill Scream, installed in 1987, cooled you off on a hot day. Now Old Mill Scream is known as Lumberjack Falls at Wild Waves theme park outside of Tacoma, Wash. 

• The Grizzly River Rampage still exists too, well kind of. Hardware for this crowd favorite was sent to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, which is a park that is still standing but not currently operating. The rafts were originally sent to Six Flags Astroworld in Houston, which shut down in 2005, and then sent up the road to Arlington’s Six Flags Over Texas, where they are today.

• And then there was the Flume Zoom, which for reasons still unclear to The Backpage was renamed Dulcimer Splash. Today it is known as Paul Bunyan’s Loggin’ Toboggan and is in use at Idlewild Park near Latrobe, Pa., having been purchased from the now-shuttered Old Indiana Fun Park in 2005.

• The last ride ever installed into Opryland USA was The Hangman in 1995. It can be found today at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom outside of San Francisco, renamed Kong.

• To get from one side of the park to the other you had to use the Skyride or the trains. Skyrides aren’t as popular with amusement parks these days, but you can buy one of the salvaged cars. Nashville Pickers has one for the low, low asking price of $8,000.

• The train engine known as Rachel was loaned to Doe River Gorge in Elizabethton, Tenn., for their railroad and eventually shipped to Grapevine, Texas, where Gaylord’s Texan Hotel is located, and donated to the city.

Beatrice, as another train engine was known, was sent to Six Flags America in Largo, Md., and is part of their Capital Railways line which, according to the website, is temporarily closed.

• The Tennessee Waltz Flying Carousel was sent to the Old Indiana Fun Park, which, like Opryland, closed in 1997. Where she waltzes is not known.

• According to one online source, the train cars that took you through the loops of the Wabash Cannonball are now stored at a park in Belgium and the track was sold for scrap.

The Screamin’ Delta Demon and Chaos wound up at the now-defunct Old Indiana Fun Park. So far, no word on the current location of the Demon. Chaos was for sale in early ’06, but it is not known what became of that listing, and the track was scrapped some time before that.

• Finally, there were the Tin Lizzies. The replica Ford Model T’s were sent to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom.

We miss Opryland USA. Until someone (major hint here, Colin Reed) decides to bring you back, who wants to go with us up to Kentucky to liberate our Tin Lizzies?

16 Comments on this post:

By: capt4chris on 7/3/12 at 1:06

Aren't there signs that they're trying to make up for that "bad" decision by the new theme park that Gaylord & Dolly Parton recently announced that will go by Opry Mills?

By: rickmuz on 7/3/12 at 6:15

There's a reason the theme park is closed... along with Six Flags Astro world/Six Flags KY kingdom and a plethora of others... NOSTALGIA does not pay the bills.

By: westisbest on 7/3/12 at 7:29

I, too, miss the old days of Opryland. But let's face it, those days were when the city was smaller and somewhat quaint. I lived in Franklin and it wasn't overcrowded and congested. Season passes to Opryland were affordable and the lines were short on weekdays. If the park were around today, it would be over crowded and expensive. I love the fact that our city has grown and has so many ammenitites. I love that people move to this city because the people are nice, the weather is great, and the place just has a good vibe. However, the nostalgia asociated with Opryland and the feel of that themepark will never be duplicated. It is impossible.

By: Rasputin72 on 7/3/12 at 7:36

I think Opryland management saw the future. You have 63% of the Davidson County school kids on the free lunch program. The prices for admission to Opryland would have had to escalate high enough that there would be the underclass picketing and demanding "free tickets"

By: TITAN1 on 7/3/12 at 7:49

Blowhard rasp, taking another hit at the "Underclass". I sure hope you are just a blowhard on message boards and not in real life.

By: parnell3rd on 7/3/12 at 8:09

Your right rickmuz and rasp, between the skyrocketing ticket prices and Dollywood's success, opryland was doomed.

By: toocountry on 7/3/12 at 10:29

Lorraine Plante
I have the fondest memories of the Opryland Park. Been there couple times; it was always a...MUST every time I was In Nashville. What a great time it was to visit that Park. Had never seen anything like it. I wish it was still there ! I think about it every time I go back to Nashville and my country friends say the same too. Visited Opry Mills once when it opended and that was IT ! Never went back but had it been still Opryland Park I would have been there every visit.

By: anjnew on 7/3/12 at 11:16

If the theme park were to be located in the right location I think Nashville is the perfect place. When my family comes to visit, the first thing they say is, "I wish Opryland were still here". Just because there are some under privileged children here in Davidson county does not mean Nashville cannot sustain a successful theme park. There are a lot of people here and around looking for somewhere to go with their families. It will be good for Davidson county, who is desperate for TAX dollars. Maybe this is the reason, Marriot is buying out Opryland hotels because they cant mange their properties and give people what they want.

By: Jughead on 7/3/12 at 12:10

It would have turned into a ghetto park just like Wave Country.

By: Jughead on 7/3/12 at 12:12

I'm gonna use my food stamps to buy nachos and soda at Wave Country. I love welfare. Keep working for me, Joe Sixpack!

Obama rocks. Milk the gov't for whatever you can, then blame GWB when it all collapses.

By: paulalanjones on 7/4/12 at 7:22

Gaylord is converting to a property holding company in 2013, they have sold off their hotel operations (pending shareholder approval in August) and will move forward with making money with property holdings and acquisitions. The Dollywood water/snow park extension going in across the highway from Opryland shows as long as someone is willing to build a worth while business, Gaylord will consider supporting it with their property holdings. They are snapping up all the property they can buy around Opryland, so who knows, you may see roller coasters again some day in Nashville, but don't expect Gaylord to drive that ship, all they want is to make money with their properties... someone else is going to have to approach them with a solid plan.

By: Ask01 on 7/4/12 at 1:52

I fear, TITAN1, you will see many more such posts.

The problem, I believe, is some middle class imagine themselves upperclass, and a target of the 'underclass' wanting nothing more than to live off the wealth of others. You know which undesirables they mean, the unemployed, infirm, elderly, indigent, and others unable to fend for themselves.

Ironically, many of those actively attacking what they consider 'untermensch' are most likely a paycheck and a few weeks, or perhaps months, savings away from themselves being on the dole.

They fail to realize the rich and corporations they are protecting would cut them loose in an instant to save a dime. Another truth they reject, but I learned the hard way, is they will become instant pariahs; drain on society and leeches on the body of those working. They will be told to "get a job," only to find the process isn't so simple.. The situation is marginally improving at a snail's pace, so perhaps the search will go quicker. Unless, of course, businesses interperet further layoffs as a sign of a weak economy, and lay off more to protect upper management and the rich owners.

I thankfully don't personally know the individual to whom you directed your comments, so I have no idea of their status, but the obviously have some animosity toward anyone not in their social strata.

Sorry for the off topic rant, but I do feel much better now.

As for the issue of Opryland, the closure was indeed sad, but somehow understandable. I am no financial expert, but I feel certain the profit margin is much higher with a shopping center than a theme park. The overhead had to be very high and I feel certain the insurance must have been exhorbitant in case a guest was killed or injured.

I feel safe in presuming the corporate leadership pockets substantially more profit now than when the park was operating.

I would love to see a new theme park, but one paid for entirely by private business and located some place calculated to divert tourists from places locals go so we don't have to interact with the out of towners.

Just my opinion.

By: Loretta Bridge on 7/4/12 at 11:43

If they think it was such as bad idea to tear the beautiful park down and build the mall then why did they rebuild the mall after the flood. The newly rebuild mall is still a bad. One little road in and out which means traffic problem getting in and out. Valet parking at $5 takes up too many parking spaces. Now that other malls have age restrictions the teens are already hanging out at Opry Mills. No wonder Marriott is taking over the hotel because it has become obvious that Gaylord doesn't make good decisions anymore. Also who the devil needs another water park much less a snow park?

By: joe41 on 7/5/12 at 7:04

Now that Gaylord sold their hotels, what are their plans for the rest of the company? What are they going to do with the money????

By: TRHJR on 7/5/12 at 7:54

YOA ASK1 go get a job get off the govt dole yea u work for the govt ....whats wrong with profits ? i feel safe to tell you ASK 1 get your grease hand out of MY POCKET !

By: Ask01 on 7/5/12 at 4:55

TRHJR, I do have a job, just so you know.

That information should serve to scuttle whatever comment you so poorly attempted to make.

Plus, I wouldn't place my hand anywhere near your pocket for fear of contracting some sort of disease.

What's wrong with profits? I don't know, what? I like profits. Unless of course they all go to the greedy executives who pay a mere pittance to those who actually did the 'grunt' work earning those profits.

I hear some excellent adult learning classes are offered at various schools around the area. You should avail yourself of the opportunity.