From 1972 to 1997, Nashville, TN hosted the country music theme park, Opryland USA. Music was part of the draw, with established stars playing big stages and relative unknowns performing in the park throughout the day.
The former southern park created vacation packages for families (my mom wanted to see Alabama the summer my family visited). It even offered work for park regulars like Russ and Becky Jeffers. There were also a few future stars, including Ty Herndon, performing music shows at the park before their musical careers skyrocketed. Owned by Gaylord Entertainment, the Opryland Hotel provided a resort-style destination for Tennesseans and visitors from around the country.
Beyond the types of music you'd expect to hear when you see Old Glory, the word "Opry" or a mandolin in place of an "o," the Opryland theme park offered a Middle Tennessee alternative to Six Flags Over Georgia and other regional theme parks. Thrill seekers got to ride the "Wabash Cannonball," "The Hangman" and "The Screamin' Delta Demon" roller coasters and the much ballyhooed indoor laser show and coaster hybrid "CHAOS." There were ample kids' attractions, a scenic train ride and other fun diversions for the whole family.
Sadly, the entertainment complex gave way to new development after its 25th season, and its location along the Cumberland River was replaced with Opry Mills shopping mall. Nashville lost a major employer, and families lost a destination location that appealed to more than country music history buffs. All that's left now is memories of "The Grizzly River Rampage" and these precious photos that captured a recent yet lost era of Music City history.
If you're feeling nostalgic at the loss of this great American amusement park, then look through this Opryland USA Theme Park photos that will take you back.
A Nashville Landmark
The Opryland sign on Briley Parkway. Park was open 10 to 10 that day long ago.
Davidson County - Nashville, TN - 1970'sFeatured is an aerial view of the Opryland USA amusement park as seen in the...
Elizabeth sitting in front of the train shed, likely for the first time after delivery in 1977. Note there is no lettering or logo on her.
Think about this on this on these hot summer days, I'm not sure what year this was but I would say 1985 or 1986. We had...
An Entertainment Destination
Working while going to college. Free access to work on photography assignments.
The Nashville on Stage concert series lineup in the park's last year. It was held at the Chevy/Geo Theater and had a separate admission charge.
This post was originally published on April 11, 2018.