By Chris Cowan
If you have
additional info or can scan some park brochures or Opryland pictures, please
email me. Thanks!
Very special thanks to Andrew Calderon for the
majority of the Opryland pictures on this page.
Note: Some info was gathered from this July 1,
2000 article in The Tennessean:
Brian Luttrull for additional park
Denis M. Larrick for information on
Chris Romer for year and name
The $28 million dollar park, owned by the National
Life & Accident Insurance Co., opens June 30, 1972 and consists of the
following themed areas:
Plaza - Most of this
area is actually outside of the park and leads to the ticket gates.
Hill Country - A small
area which is home to the Flume Zoom (log ride) and the Grinder's
Switch train station.
New Orleans - Here
there are a couple of restaurants, a theater, and the New Orleans Sky
Riverside - This area
features the Antique Carousel, which is over 100 years old and sits
on a platform over a lake.
American West - This
section contains the Tin Lizzies (Antique Cars) and the El Paso
The Mod Area -
Themed to the 1950's, this area has the Timber Topper (an
Arrow steel Mine Train coaster), Little Deuce Coupe (enclosed
flat ride) and the 50's Sky Ride station.
Lakeside - This
section is home to a small selection of kiddie rides, a restaurant, a
theater and the Raft Ride (family-style electric, guided boat ride
around the lake).
The parking lot has 8800 spaces.
1973 – No new
On March 16, 1974, the Grand Ole Opry moves from downtown Nashville to its
new home at Opryland; the plush 4400-seat Grand Ole Opry House.
A $2.5 million dollar new theme area, State Fair,
is added on seven additional acres and includes Wabash Cannonball, an Arrow steel
corkscrew coaster, Tennessee Waltz swings (Flying Carousel),
Bumper Cars, carnival-type games and a petting zoo.
After heavy rains, on March 14th, fifteen days
before the park's scheduled March 29th opening, the nearby Cumberland River
overflows its banks, causing the park to be flooded. Some lower lying
portions of Opryland are under as much as 16-feet of water. There are
several casualties from the park's new petting zoo: two wolves, five
goats, six rabbits, thirteen quail and some bantam chickens.
Total flood damage is estimated at approximately $5
On March 28th, a parking lot tent-sale of
flood-damaged park merchandise souvenirs draws a crowd of about 6,000.
Opryland is finally cleaned up and ready to open by
April 19th. An estimated 10,000 people attend on opening day.
1976 – No new
rides are added.
The Opryland Hotel, located on land adjacent to the park, has
its grand opening and features 600 guest rooms, a 20,000-square foot
ballroom and 30,000 square feet of exhibit space for conventions.
The Barnstormer (biplanes) is added in the
(not sure of exact year--sometime between
The Mod Area is
renamed Do Wah Diddy City.
Timber Topper is renamed Rock N' Roller Coaster.
The Roy Acuff
Theatre is added, for a cost of $3 million, in the
Plaza area near the main
gates (outside of the park).
Kid Stuff, a children's play area, is added
in the Riverside
Admission this year is $8.75. A Season Pass
is $32.50. Parking is $1.00.
No new rides or attractions are added.
year is $9.75. A Season Pass is $34.00. Parking is $1.50.
1981 – No new
rides are added.
A new theme area, Grizzly
River Country, is added to the park between the
Do Wah Diddy City and State Fair sections.
It features Grizzly River
Rampage, a $4.8 million dollar white water rafting ride.
A major expansion of the Opryland Hotel (dubbed Phase
II) opens. It includes the Garden Conservatory (a Victorian-inspired
indoor atrium), and the 30,000-square foot Presidential Ballroom.
Guest room count is increased to 1,067.
Waltz (Flying Carousel)
1984 – Screamin’ Delta
Demon, an Intamin wheeled Bobsled coaster, is added in the
New Orleans area.
1985 – No new
rides are added.
Little Rock-N-Roller Coaster
– Raft Ride is removed at the end of the season.
1987 – Old Mill Scream,
a $2.6 million shoot-the-chutes water ride, is added to
Lakeside (near The
Barnstormer) in the area previously occupied by Raft Ride.
In November, Phase III of the Opryland Hotel opens,
featuring a second indoor atrium, called Cascades, and the 18,000-square
foot Governor's Ballroom. Guest room count is increased by 824, for a
total of 1,891.
Chaos, a $7
million indoor Vekoma steel roller coaster, is added in
Grizzly River Country. The train is 240ft long and holds 80 people per ride!
The Opryland Hotel adds the 4,000-square foot
Magnolia Ballroom, an upscale area for smaller conventions.
1990 – No new
rides are added.
Eagle Lake Surrey Ride
No new rides are added.
No new rides are added.
– Opryland had three trains for their railroad:
Beatrice [#1] from Enterprise Plantation in Patoutville, Louisiana -- a Fornery locomotive originally built in 1910.
This engine was converted from steam to diesel in the early 1980s. The
crew was so opposed to the conversion that they repainted Beatrice as engine
#4, so as not to sully the name of their beloved #1.
Rachel [#2] from Stine Coal Co. in Osceola
Mills, PA -- a
saddle tanker built for use in the Pennsylvania coal fields in 1922 and
completely rebuilt for Opryland in 1970.
Elizabeth [#3] a diesel engine
built especially for Opryland by Custom Fabricators in Johnson City, TN on a
chassis from the Mackie Clemens power plant in Pittsburg, KS).
1994 – Tin
Lizzies are removed at the end of the season.
The Hangman is
added in the area previously occupied by Tin Lizzies in the
American West section. It’s a Vekoma SLC (Suspended Looping Coaster) that’s nearly identical
to T2, the coaster that also opens this year at Kentucky Kingdom in
Louisville, KY. The Hangman is now operates as Kong at Six Flags Marine World
near San Francisco, CA.
Phase IV of the Opryland Hotel opens. The $175
million dollar expansion is the largest construction project in
Nashville's history. It includes the 55,465-square foot Delta
Ballroom, the 289,000-square foot Ryman Exhibit Hall and the 4.5 acre Delta
Atrium, which features its own quarter-mile-long river with boat tours.
1997 – Opryland USA
closes its gates forever on December 31, 1997 after completing its annual
Christmas in the Park event.
Premier Parks, Inc. buys 13 of Opryland’s rides
and has most of them moved to the grounds of what was previously the Old Indiana Fun
Park, which they had purchased previously. Premier's intention is to rebuild Old
Indiana with these rides, but later in the year, Premier Parks purchases all
of the Six Flags parks and decides to concentrate on them instead of
opening a new theme park.
The Hangman is installed at Six Flags Marine
World as Kong.
Some parts of Grizzly River
Rampage are installed at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom as Penguin’s
Blizzard River (the rafts are sent to Six Flags AstroWorld in Houston,
Beatrice (train engine) is sent to Six Flags America
in Largo, MD.
Elizabeth (train engine) is sent to AstroWorld.
Rachel (train engine) is loaned to the Tennessee
Central Railway Museum in Nashville.
Gaylord Entertainment, the company that owned
Opryland when it closed, decides to keep the Antique Carousel, and
puts it into storage.
– Eleven of Opryland’s former rides sit in pieces
in an open field in Indiana, rusting amongst the weeds. They are: The
Barnstormer, Chaos, Country Bumpkin, Dulcimer Splash, Little Deuce Coupe, Old
Mill Scream, Rock N’ Roller Coaster, Screamin’ Delta Demon, Sky Ride, Tennessee Waltz,
and Wabash Cannonball.
[Picture from The Tennessean newspaper]
In September, Rachel (train engine) is loaned
to Doe River Gorge in Elizabethton, TN for their railroad.
– Old Mill Scream is relocated to a
parking lot (not installed) at Six Flags Over Texas where is
undergoes a refurbishment and re-theming before being shipped to
Enchanted Village (Seattle, WA).
In July, Premier Parks, now known as Six Flags, Inc.,
sells the land in Indiana. Wabash Cannonball and most of the
flat rides are sold as scrap to an independent contractor. Rock N
Roller Coaster is shipped to the Great Escape (New York). Two
roller coasters, Chaos and Screamin' Delta Demon, remain onsite.
In August, Old Mill Scream reopens at
Enchanted Village as Lumberjack Falls.
Opryland's Rock N' Roller Coaster
resurfaces for the 2003 season at the Great Escape (New York) as Canyon
Rachel (train engine) is
taken back to Nashville in the fall and is reportedly for sale for $300,000.
Although most of the park was demolished, some parts of Grizzly River
Rampage still remain.
Here you can see the "river bed" and large rock
Rachel (train engine) is shipped to Grapevine,
Texas (the city where Gaylord's Texan Hotel is located) and donated to the