Ghost Town In The Sky: What Happened Here?

Photo by Jim R Rogers on flickr

Ghost Town in the Sky, also known as Ghost Town Village, is a Wild West-themed amusement park. Its premise was modelled after the old west town – brick red and brown architecture, cowboys, saloons and all.

The theme park opened in 1961, with around 40 Wild West-themed buildings in the western town. Furthermore, the park comprised of several towns with differing themes. These include the “Indian Village”, “Mining Town”, and more.

Once a popular destination, Ghost Town in the Sky is now reminiscent of a ghost city. It closed in 2002 after an incident. However, the theme park was sold in 2006. It reopened in 2007 until it shut down again in 2010. There were repeated attempts in opening the theme park again over the next few years.

Where Is Ghost Town In The Sky?

mountain, clouds, ghost town in the sky
Photo by Dsorrells on Wikimedia Commons

The Ghost Town in the Sky is situated on top of Buck Mountain in Maggie Valley, North Carolina in the United States. It’s only accessible via a 1,030-metre long chairlift ride.

Due to its location atop the mountain, the theme park was also called “North Carolina’s Mile High Theme Park”.

Attractions In The Theme Park

Throughout the decades, many different attractions were added to Ghost Town in the Sky. From roller coasters and merry-go-round to bumper cars and tilt-a-whirl, the park had them all.

Visitors were also able to explore the different “towns” in Ghost Town in the Sky and enjoy the different features scattered around the park. For instance, in the Old West Town, there were recreations of saloons, schoolhouse, bank, jail, and more. Every hour, there was also a staged gunfight on the street. Other entertainment included hourly dance shows and music performances. In contrast, in the “Mining Town”, there were areas where visitors could search for gold.

Some of the rides (i.e., the Red Devil, now known as the Cliffhanger) boasted a great landscaped view of the surroundings. The starting point of the famous Cliffhanger was at the top of a hill. The track looped around the mountain, granting riders an unhindered view of the greenery around them.

Overall, Ghost Town in the Sky functioned as a uniquely Wild West theme park. This was boosted by its location and the variety of attractions in its prime.

Photo by Brian Stansberry on Wikimedia Commons

History Of Ghost Town In The Sky

Ghost Town in the Sky opened in 1961. The theme park was largely based on R.B. Coburn’s inspiration during his trips to the west. The park was successful upon its opening and was once one of North Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations.

However, over the decades, the number of visitors gradually declined. This was also in part, due to the declining conditions of the theme park’s rides. Some of the rides started to break down and required constant repair and maintenance. Moreover, interest in and the appeal of the Wild West gradually lost its lustre.

A Series Of Incidents In The Theme Park

A series of unfortunate incidents in the theme park has given the park a reputation for being “cursed”.

In 2002, a mechanical failure trapped tourists in chairlift for more than two hours. Furthermore, in 2010, a large mudslide blocked the only road to the park. There were no injuries but the theme park had sustained some damage.

And in 2013, when the theme park opened for a limited time, a cowboy was shot and wounded with an actual bullet during a pretend gunfight. It was not known how or why it got into the gun.

While Ghost Town in the Sky had suffered some misfortune ever since its decline, it has also garnered some public interest in recent years due to its abandoned state.

The Theme Park’s Eventual Abandonment

Due to the mechanical failure of the chairlift in 2002, Ghost Town in the Sky closed. The theme park was then put up for sale. Meanwhile, the park was not maintained and was left as it was for the years to come.

Attempts In Re-opening Ghost Town In The Sky

Since its closure in 2002, there have been many attempts to re-open the theme park.

2007

In 2007, Ghost Town in the Sky was sold and reopened after spending millions of dollars on renovations. Most of the rides were reopened as well.

However, in 2009, things didn’t bode well for the theme park. Financial issues began to crop up. Not only were renovation costs piling up, but the economy and high gas prices from the previous year also escalated the issues. By the end of it, the theme park had to file for bankruptcy.

Fun fact: The 2007 film Ghost Town: The Movie was filmed at Ghost Town in the Sky.

2010

After the mudslide that occurred in 2010, the theme park did receive some funding to help clean up the main road leading to the park. However, due to a large amount of debt the theme park racked up, the park was forced to close.

2012

In 2012, Alaska Presley bought the theme park in an auction. She tried to fix whatever she could of the park in hopes to reopen it. However, it was an extremely tough uphill task. Despite her efforts, she was only able to open it for a limited time.

2014

In 2014, the lower half of Ghost Town in the Sky’s property was up for sale. However, the listing was taken down in 2015. The park announced plans to rebrand the theme park into Ghost Town Village. Due to the estimated enormous costs of repairing the old rides, the park was unable to reopen most of the former roller coasters.

However, despite the plans for its reopening, it never really took off. In 2016, it was once again listed for sale.

2018

In 2018, the company Ghost Town Adventures bought the theme park. The new team began to restore and repair the theme park. They were also excited about adding new attractions into the theme park, as well as bringing in the original gunfight shows. There were also plans to reopen the theme park by the spring of 2019. A 5-year plan was also presented to the Maggie Valley Civic Association.

Unfortunately, the plan fell through due to lawsuits against Lamar Berry, the lead developer of the plan.

The Current State Of Ghost Town In The Sky

Over the decades and in between the attempts at reopening the park, the theme park was a target of vandalism and the like. Urban explorers and trespassers alike sneak into the property, taking photographs and videos of the abandoned site. Some explore the place, driven by their innate curiosity and love for abandoned sites; others are driven by more malicious intents.

This leads to one of the reasons why it was hard to reopen Ghost Town in the Sky. Besides its already dilapidated state, vandalism and thief of merchandises by trespassers often hinder the progress.

As of now, Ghost Town in the Sky was put back up on sale again for $5.95 million. Whether or not this abandoned theme park will ever open its doors again is anyone’s guess. However, the locals aren’t putting in much faith in its reopening anytime soon.

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