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Photo TR: Celebration City (Defunct)


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Today (Dec 3, 2010) I happened to be in Branson, Mo. While I was there, I made a trip by the now closed Celebration City. But first, a little background.


In October of 2002 I was looking for work. Given my hospitality experience in front office and hotel operations, I applied and interviewed for the ticketing/ride operations manager. The position was to be responsible for front services and ride operations staff which was to include writing SOP manuals, hiring, and training of all staff. During the interview, and having known the fate of what had previously occupied the site, I quizzed them about having two parks so close together. The park's GM said their theory was that SDC would close between 6 and eight in the evening and that guests would just naturally migrate to Celebration City to end their day. Given the need for two separate tickets, or, at a minimum an add on, I was skeptical. So, I continued to ask questions about the area, marketing, etc. Ultimately I was not offered the position, in part, I believe, because of my questioning the ride selection (not really questioning as in why did you pick that, more like just inquiring) and about attendance.


As we know, about 5 years after it opened, it closed 10/2008. Sadly, I was never able to return to ride any of the park's rides. I was onsite interviewing when GCI was in the build process and my jaw dropped. They built one sexy ride. Sadly, it's not getting the usage it deserves.


The park really looks like it's in winter mode. The property has still seen maintenance and has the appearance that given annuals, the rides could reopen next season.


Here we are in the main drive. The traffic lights are simply flashing and no longer in any real operation.






The cars are still on track. The thunderbolt is listed as defunct on RCDB, to me it's SBNO. But it really doesn't matter.


More cars


Top of lift


walking down the sidewalk, we find several kiddie rides




Meanwhile, over at the ozark wildcat, sexy.


there is a church occuping one of the buildings now, I was going to walk up and ask if I could take pictures from their parking lot, but, several people driving in gave me dirty looks, so, I turned around.




I spy train on track in transfer house


Station Shot


now we go up high for a looksee


super sexy


tower ride and splash boat ride still standing


ferris wheel. such a nice wheel, SDC could use it.







and finally, how ironic.

Edited by ernierocker
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It grinds my gears that the park is still just sitting there unused, apparently still without a set plan for the property. I feel like they could have kept it operating the last couple of years until they actually had a plan.


Right now only the 3 rides that went to WA, the Tilt-a-whirl, and one of the kiddie rides have found a new home. The rest are just sitting there waiting to be sold. All the buildings have been gutted. It's pretty clear that they aren't going to open another park on the property.

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I wonder if it is feasible for SDC to move the Ozark Wildcat to the park? A medium sized woodie would be a good fit for the park. They'd just have to find a spot for it. The three major steel coasters they have are very good rides and this would just round out their offerings. It does appear to be in decent shape. I think the idea of moving the Ferris wheel over to SDC mentioned above is a good idea too. Perhaps they could fit in to their Grand Centennial Exposition area. Peace, KC

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^That's the big issue SDC has. They can't build anything 'standard' or designed for a giant tract of flat land. But, who's complaining? This gave them the awesome Wildfire, TuNderaTion, and Powder Keg (Buzzsaw Falls apart)! I think that if any park would get Ozcat, it would be Wild Adventures. SDC would have to do some crazy cuts and fills, and then retrofit some new supports to get it in there, which would be a big hassle. While a woodie is always a nice addition to a park, wouldn't you say that SDC is all set in terms of coaster variety at the moment?


Also, I do agree with the poster that said the buildings were stripped down, inside and out. They probably aren't going to reuse CC as a theme park...unless it was all for a park-wide remodeling in the future.

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OzCat is stunning, and it sounds like it was a great ride. I stared it down on my way to SDC, which was mildly fun, but mostly saddening. I actually also like the look of Thunderbolt. After all, it's a Hurricane! Love those.


I've heard it would not be practical to move OzCat, due to the terrain it's built on. At any rate, I would love to get a chance to ride it!

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SDC would benefit vastly from a good wooden coaster, but OzCat isn't going anywhere. Moving wooden coasters is rarely worth it unless there is some sort of major sentimental value. OzCat was pretty good, but even if SDC had the flat space and the ability to move it cheaply, I'd rather see SDC get a larger, custom design.


The giant ferris wheel moving to SDC would be the absolute worst thing ever. It's a bit sad how much of the park you can see from the outside as it is, considering the founder's original intentions.


I seem to recall HFEC saying they wanted to have something worked out by this year, but I haven't heard anything in a year at least. The last thing the chain said about the park publicly was that they were still reviewing options for the place, even turning it back into some sort of an amusement park, but all the rides turned up for sale soon after. I'm still trying to figure out what on earth they're thinking. I assume there's something going on behind the scenes that explains why they would let so many valuable assets collect dust for two years and counting.

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At IAAPA, I met this nice lady who told me that her husband was one of the people behind all of the rides at SDC and CC. She was telling me all of these stories about the design process of Wildfire, Powderkeg, and others. I asked her why they closed CC and she explained that the park had very low attendance. It was designed to make SDC a full experience. Spend one day at SDC and another at CC, but people only wanted to go to SDC. Eventually, CC became too unprofitable to operate and with the poor economy, they saw no other options. For a while, they did consider moving the Wildcat, but the coaster has already deteriorated to the point where it will probably never operate again, unless they invest almost as much money into the ride as it originally cost. Several of the other rides, while salvageable, are not right for the other parks at the time. While sad, it was the right business decision at the time and we will probably never see this park open again. I learned a ton from this lady, her husband, and kids about the park. If anyone wants to ask a question, PM me.

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^ This is exactly what I quizzed them over during my interview, they told me the exact same story. They seemed quite confident in their decision, but with all of the other shows and attractions geared towards the older crowd, hotel room inventory at the time, I was skeptical, and rightly so. Basically, if anyone were to buy the GCI, all they would be buying is the blueprints, trains, and related equipment (motor, breaks, controls, computers). And dependant on the price they would want for it, that might not be feasible after new construction costs. It's just too expensive to move a wooden coaster, especially to land that isn't identical, that and the track bed can't be saved and most of the wood would probably need to be replaced. Cheaper to strip it, tear it down, and rebuild it fresh.


Glad everyone is enjoying the pictures!

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I'm glad that I got to visit this park in the short time that it was open. It's sad that it had to close so soon. I wonder if anything has been discussed lately on what the future is with this park. I'm guessing that since they're still taking care of the rides they're either planning to sell them or maybe even open them back up eventually. Oh, and does anyone know if they still have the rides up for sale? If they demolish the place, I seem to remember something being said about an aquarium replacing what is there now.

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^Most of the rides are still up for sale, but only a couple seem to have actually been sold off while 4 have been moved to other HFEC properties. The new Miracle Strip park just bought the tilt-a-whirl.


I haven't seen some of the rides up for sale ever though, including the S&S tower, KMG fireball, Mack Supersplash, and flying carpet. With the exception of maybe the fireball, all of those rides might be headed to other HFEC properties.


The aquarium thing was just a rumor that started around the time the chain bought up a couple of aquariums. They still haven't mentioned anything about any potential plans for the site.

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My son and I had a GREAT time at CC a couple years ago on the last night it was open that season to the public. Ozark Wildcat is a BLAST and my son loved it so much he rode it 20 (yes 20) times before they had to pry him off it with a crowbar. I especially enjoyed the last set of elements (magic carpet?) down through the bottom of the structure with no lights at night. I really liked the park's atmosphere and thought the free go-kart track inside the park was a great idea. Too bad we only got to enjoy it once before it closed

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