Year by Year History of Your Favorite Parks!


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Originally posted: 10/27/2002

Last updated: 2/12/2005






Opened: 06/30/1972
Closed: 12/31/1997

 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:

Thanks to:

    Brian Luttrull for additional park information..

    Denis M. Larrick for information on Opryland's trains.

    Chris Romer for year and name corrections.


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 Ride station.





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 train station.



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 rides added.




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 million.

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 Lakeside section.




Before 1979: (not sure of exact year--sometime between 1973-1978)

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 area. 

Admission this year is $8.75.  A Season Pass is $32.50.  Parking is $1.00.


No new rides or attractions are added.

Admission this 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.

(The Tennessee Waltz (Flying Carousel)

1984Screamin’ 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


1986 –  Raft Ride is removed at the end of the season.



1987Old 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



1991 – No new rides are added.





1992 – No new rides are added.




1993 – 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.

1997Opryland 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, TX). 

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. 

2000 – 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.

2001 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 Blaster.

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 theming.





Rachel (train engine) is shipped to Grapevine, Texas (the city where Gaylord's Texan Hotel is located) and donated to the city.

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