“We were all ready,” said park owner Alaska Presley. “We were really disappointed.”
While the park’s attractions and staff may have been ready for the announced opening date, work on the water lines was not done. The job is taking longer than expected due to an obstacle on the mountain.
“They ran into a solid rock and they couldn’t blast it and so they couldn’t get around it,” Presley said.
In addition to the continuing work on the water lines, there is also work to be done to a washed-out evacuation road underneath the park’s chair lift. That work will need to be completed in time for a July 2 inspection. All that will need to go smoothly for a — Presley’s hoping — July 4 opening date.
This isn’t the first time Ghost Town has failed to open on schedule. In addition to delayed openings, the park has had a multitude of other problems in recent years. Since Presley purchased it at auction in 2012 — after decades of decline, changings of hands and bankruptcy for the park — Ghost Town has failed inspections, opened with limited attractions and seen an actor shot with a projectile during a staged gunfight.
“It’s just been tough,” she said.
Presley, who has a long history with the park, said it’s been more challenging than she expected to get Ghost Town up to snuff. The owner has had to repair and refurbish much of the park — she estimates work done this year at around $1 million.
“Stuff that I never dreamed that I’d have to do,” Presley said.
A week before the park opened, Ghost Town’s owner sounded psyched. She was ready for June 20 and hoping the park would prove to be a big-deal attraction for Haywood County.
“I’m excited about getting opened up,” Presley said as she sat in the park’s base-level A-frame, in a small office behind the gift shop.
From that office on opening weekend, Presley could see visitors arrive, ultimately to be disappointed. Feeling bad about the park’s closure, she tried to make it up to one car load.
“Gave’em a guided tour,” Presley said, “so they’re not disappointed.”
The owner said that, considering the rough go the park’s had in recent years, she usually finds the response from the public to be encouraging.
“I’ve really been surprised that I’ve not met with any bad vibes,” Presley said.