For those of us who grew up here in Nashville, it is as much a part of our DNA as anything else.
But, you would never know it existed.
There is not a single piece left of it anywhere.
And yes, there are a few signs around town pointing you in that direction.
But, if you follow the signs, you will drive forever because it is not there.
It’s almost impossible to tell a story of your childhood, if you grew up here, and over 30, that doesn’t include a story from there.
And if it doesn’t, then your parents let you down.
I am talking about this.
Yep, good ole Opryland USA.
If you have moved here since 1998, you have heard about it, but never got to experience it.
And for our kids today, that is quite sad.
You could get a season pass for about 29 bucks and with a Pepsi can, you got 5 bucks off of that.
We would go 25 times a year. At least. The passes paid for themselves.
How many times did you ride this?
1,000? 2,000? Not kidding, probably more than that.
Or got on the Thin Lizzie and tried to run it off the tracks? And switch seats constantly and laugh like you were breaking the law?
Speaking of breaking the law, as an adult, we learned how to sneak into the park.
One day, I saw a guy next to us walking in with his girlfriend. Then, I saw him in the park but way ahead of us and I asked him, “How did you get in so quick.” He told me he worked at the park and would just go through Roy Acuff’s “house” and that no one would stop him.
(Roy supposedly lived in the park, but not sure how much and you could walk up, like you worked there and go through a side gate and then another and you were in the park. No questions asked.)
Boom! We did it and never paid to enter the park again for 10 years. Perhaps that is the reason the park eventually shut down. I hope not, I don’t need that kinda pressure on me.
I had to run out to the Opryland Hotel a few days ago and you would never know that a theme park even existed there.
Even the rocks from the Grizzly River Rampage are gone.
The entrance is still the same, but that is about it.
But if you close your eyes and your ears, it is still there.
The Rock’n Roller Coaster
The Sky lift.
The Wabash Cannonball.
The train around the park.
The Flume Zoom.
And many, many, other things.
Sad that my kids, and your kids, don’t get to experience that growing up.
I know life moves us in many different directions and we get so busy, but every single time I pass that sign on the interstate that says, “Opryland USA,” I am taken back to that park. And those days.
And yes, sneaking in.