Ghost Town In The Sky, located in the town of Maggie Valley, is a family-fun destination that takes visitors back into the Wild West, featuring high-noon shootouts, live music, shows and its famous mile-high roller coaster. It was one of the first family theme parks in North Carolina when it opened in 1961.
“We are very excited about the re-opening of Ghost Town. Since the 1960s, Ghost Town has entertained families, and with its new ownership and additions, we know it will continue to be a vital part of our community,” said Scotty Medford Ellis, executive director of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.
The theme park, designed by R.B. Coburn in 1960 to reflect the American old western towns of the 1840s, officially opened in May of 1961. The park operated for 41 years until closing in 2002.
The 99-acre theme park was purchased by Allen and Carol Harper, Peter Hairston and Hank Woodburn, operating as Ghost Town Partners. it has undergone a $4 million renovation to prepare for the re-opening. The renovations included a new chair lift and restored incline railway, additional restaurants and concessions, expanded group facilities and special performance areas and historical and heritage-themed displays. Additionally, new shows, a museum and updated rides were part of the renovation process.
Located at the top of Buck Mountain, visitors must travel on an incline at angles of 77 degrees at certain points, or by the chair lift, which is one of the longest in North Carolina, to get to the park.
“The trip to get to the park is one of the most unique aspects of Ghost Town,” said David King, sales and marketing manager of Ghost Town. “After the thrill of the incline or chair lift, the views of the Great Smoky Mountains and Maggie Valley are beautiful and create a really unique atmosphere for a theme park.”
Ghost Town will still feature many of the park’s original rides and attractions, including the famous mile-high roller coaster and western exterior, but will also introduce new concepts and amusements.
Ghost Town’s most legendary ride, the mile-high roller coaster originally called “Red Devil,” underwent safety renovations, as well as getting a new name and facelift.
“We held an online contest that allowed fans to compete to rename the famous roller coaster,” said King.
The ride, now called “Cliff Hanger,” has been painted to reflect the current color theme of the park, sporting a corn husk yellow track, chili red cars and a navy blue terminal. “Cliff Hanger” riders will travel over the side of Buck Mountain, traveling 2,063 feet at a top speed of 56 mph.
Another new addition to the park is the Drop Tower ride, located at the top of the park, which will send adventure seekers 113 feet in the air, offering unbelievable views of the surrounding area.
“Ghost Town’s swings, located on the edge of the mountain, give the sense that riders are swinging off the edge of the mountain,” said King. “Every aspect of the park is designed to showcase the mountain and offer a thrill unlike any other—it’s truly an experience you won’t be able to find anywhere else.”
The re-opening also marks the first time Ghost Town has ever offered season passes. Discounts also will be available for large groups, as well as other incentives, including lower rates for students with good grades or school attendance or patrons of certain companies.
“The re-opening of Ghost Town adds a great attraction to our community, but it will also create around 300 full and part-time park-related jobs, as well as reinforcing tourism attention to Maggie Valley through Ghost Town’s marketing campaign, boasting the region as a travel destination,” said Medford Ellis.
Long-term development plans include possible additions of a water park, retail outlets, condominiums and potential home sites.