GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY
Maggie Valley, NC
LULA, LLC DBA Ghost Town in the Sky
Park News - (12/17/13) Ghost Town in the Sky has been hit with safety violation fines following the accidental “shooting” of one of the park’s classic gun fighters back in July.
(7/17/13) More bad news from Ghost Town in the Sky. According to this report Ghost Town’s “Apache Kid” (Robert Bradley) is said to have been hit with a piece of shrapnel during one of Ghost Town’s staged gunfighter shootouts in the streets of the park. Making things worse, the park did not have medical personnel on standby when this took place on July 6th and apparently the water is not working in this area of the park so anyone who tried to help and got blood on their hands couldn’t even wash it off. According to the report Ghost Town actually had just reopened to the public on July 5th.
The story does not end here however… as I’ve been told by others that rather than check on Robert Bradley afterwards or wait for the dust to settle, the park’s new owner (Alaska Presley) had him fired. I’m not entirely sure, but it almost sounds like the entire gunfighter team was fired and then replaced with shocking quickness by a new inexperienced team. Just where and why this new team of gunfighters came from, and how they were ready to walk in and start working out of the blue is somewhat suspect to me if true. Adding more pieces to the puzzle, there is now a very interesting Facebook page for a “RB Coburn (Phantom-Gunfighter)” which had a number of interesting stories, critical comments and stories detailing the downward spiral that Ghost Town in the Sky finds itself in, including several messages saying that several days after telling everyone the Apache Kid was fired, they revised their story and began telling everyone that he quit.
The fact that it has taken this long for this story to hit the media also seems to imply that the park might have been trying their best to keep it quiet. But to have a performer shot on the street of any theme park, with park guests standing nearby… that just screams safety hazard to me. In fact, the “RB Coburn” Facebook page even has a picture of the 3 inch deep hole put in Robert Bradley’s leg. (You should be able to see the picture here). Sounds like a major safety inspection crew from the state needs to be all up in Ghost Towns business end as soon as possible. No medical staff on hand, no running water, a stunt performer being essentially “shot” during a gunfight show done with blanks… something just isn’t right.
(7/15/13) A few of our readers have gone by Ghost Town in the Sky this past week and discovered that it now appeared to have quietly opened, without any major fanfare. One reader decided to dive in with both feet and see what it was like and has sent in several pictures as well as a trip report.
I’ll make one interesting observation that the new trains ordered by the previous owners for the Cliffhanger coaster are not only still on site, but sitting on the track in one of the photos. During the bankruptcy news it was previously mentioned that the previous owners had never fully paid for them and that the company hired to make the custom trains was expected to come in and take possession of them back. The fact that they are still on the track is a good sign that the new owner does hope to someday reopen the coaster. Now onto the trip report:
At arrival, I was amazed to see less than 20 vehicles in the large parking lot. The chair lift was running, as was the gift shop at "Phase 1" of Ghost Town. The Zip Line was not in use. Admission was $24.95 for Adults. I approached the lady working the ticket booth, which was located inside the gift shop, for some general information regarding reconstruction. No information was given. The chair lift had just opened a week prior, July 4th, as did the "Western Town". After purchase of ticket, there was a 30 minute delay before we where permitted to ride the lift, this was said to be due to recent thunder in the area. The incline railway was for the most part removed and said to not be re-opening. A church bus was given as another option to the top of the mountain.
Onto the chairlift ride, towers remained to be a faded yellow, same chairs as years past, cabling had been replaced. The ascent to the top of the mountain encountered two stops with a buzzer sounding from the change station. A lift employee said something kept "overloading". Major effort was being invested into the construction of an access road and replacing the main water lines running up the mountain. Underneath the lift was scattered pieces of heavy equipment and piping. The concrete bear, still standing. Upon arrival at the top of the mountain, we were greeted by an unmarked employee. The Cliffhanger was still present, and appeared to be in rough condition. A quick chat with one of the workers regarding its fate yielded little information. He said the ride needed to be inspected and needed safety updates. I walked over and proceeded to look around, nothing had been touched. The kiddie rides at the base of the park were standing but not running.
A church bus escorted you to the top of the park, where I arrived in time to catch the hourly gunfight. The actors had familiar faces, the show took place in front of the saloon. To my disappointment, the show lasted under 5 mins, with every second of that being narrated, taking the surprise element out of it. The buildings appeared in good shape and the town was very neat. The train that circled the park was not running.
Many shops were inside the town, most open but showing no staff inside. The arcade area was opened up and all the games on and looking to be functional, although, all the quarter slots were taped up. The only attraction operating was the shooting gallery. The "midway" area atop the hill was lacking any attention. A few rides remained. I was able to freely walk around the park without anyone showing me any attention as to what I was doing in these areas. All that remained of the Sea Dragon was the fiberglass boat, the Tumbleweed kiddie coaster remained, and was overgrown with weeds. The Paratrooper remained, but was in folded position. I did not venture to the drop tower, but it could still be seen in the distance. Overall, you could see progress was being made, slowly. I spent around 2 hours at the park, with maybe 40 guests total being in the park at once, all sharing stories of seeing the park functioning in its hay day in the 80's. It would be nice to see the park up and running, but many updates need to take place! As for Maggie Valley, it was the real Ghost Town.
2014 - Resurrection Mountain - Under Construction - (3/10/14) While most of this is still technically a “rumor”, one of our Screamscape sources spoke in detail with some Maggie Valley locals about what the future of Ghost Town in the Sky is expected to be. According to what they were told, the park is no longer planning to even attempt to repair or reopen any of the former classic flat rides at the park like the Paratrooper or Scrambler. Even worse, they were told that the plan was to rip down the old Red Devil / Cliff Hanger coaster later this Spring for scrap, as they no longer intend to try and reopen it.
Forgive the bad pun, but instead of fixing up and restoring Ghost Mountain the Sky to the park it once was, the park owner seems hell bent on only pushing ahead with the plan to open the Resurrection Mountain for 2014.
According to the website, Ghost Town in the Sky plans on reopening for the season on April 25th, 2014 and will run through to the end of October 2014. After reading the many disappointed trip reports I was sent throughout the 2013 season, most were hoping the park would be restored more like it’s old self by 2014 after the rough events of last year. Unfortunately, it looks like the park is moving into a new direction instead and into uncharted and possibly dangerous waters that might put the long-term survival of the park at risk. Time will tell…
(3/9/12) While I had hope to see Ghost Town in the Sky revived once again… I’m now a little concerned. In this article, a few details of what the new owner has planned are a quite a bit of a departure from the Ghost Town theme. Presley is planning on gutting the top level of the theme park, removing the Native American village, and moving all the kiddie rides up there to the lower level. She dreams of replacing it all with a “large gold and white concert hall where people can hold religious events or performances” and even eventually crown the top of the mountain with a giant status of Jesus with a similar look to the famous one in Rio.
Ummmm…. Call me a skeptic, but if he dream is to transform the wild west theme of Ghost Town in the Sky into another Holy Land Experience or a mountain-top version of Heritage USA, I think I’ll pass. Though this will give them a great opportunity to rename the old Red Devil roller coaster once again. Instead of Cliff Hanger, may I suggest Holy Roller?