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The remains of Opryland USA, Nashville, TN

These photos of the remains of Opryland USA have been on my hard drive for a decade forgotten like the remains of the once popular theme park.  We visited the site in November of 2006 while on the way home from Dollywood and the only thing that came to mind while walking through the site of the park was the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi" which came out two years before Opryland opened to the public.  The lyric goes:

" They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"

By the end of this you will understand why those lyrics came to mind.
 

Santa's Village AzooSement Park, East Dundee, IL

Opryland USA situated on the shores of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee is one of those parks that I always wanted to visit but never got the chance to,  That is until it was way too late. 

Opryland USA was part of the wave of theme parks that swept America in the late 1960's and through the 1970's.  It seemed that through those years every city was adding it's own theme park and that includes Nashville.  With downtown in a state of decay and the historic home of the Grand Old Opry in disrepair WSN the owner of the Opry was looking to move the show elsewhere.  The idea was not just to build a theater but an entire entertainment complex with theaters, a hotel, restaurants and a theme park.

With the Grand Old Opry and Nashville's rich musical heritage it really wasn't hard to theme Nashville's own theme park.  Opryland USA opened in May of 1972 with themed sections devoted to Country, Bluegrass, Jazz, Western and Rock & Roll.

Santa's Village AzooSement Park, East Dundee, IL

If you are wondering about the photos of a rock it is part of all that is left of Opryland USA.  From a distance looking across a large parking lot the rocks look like part of the natural landscape.  When you get up close though it is pretty obvious with a door in the side of the rock that this boulder is man made.

Santa's Village AzooSement Park, East Dundee, IL

Walking around the huge boulder you see that the rock has a large concrete trough behind it that was filled with leaves instead of water.

Santa's Village AzooSement Park, East Dundee, IL

This section of Opryland USA was called Grizzly River Country and opened in 1982 with the Grizzly River Rampage rapids ride as the centerpiece.  I am not sure if this gate was a back entrance into the park from the massive Opryland Hotel (now known as the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center). 

A side note back in this part of what once was Opryland USA sat the Chaos rollercoaster.  Chaos is one of the few coasters that my wife Carrie loved.  It was an elaborately themed indoor coaster with insanely long trains, a circular powered lift hill, lighting effects, music and numerous large motion picture screens that the ride either went around or through.  If you want to experience it you can head to Belgium to Bobbejaanland where the Revolution coaster is the only other "Illusion" style coaster made by Vekoma. 


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Paul B. Drabek