Editor’s note: This article is being updated as more information is available.
There are resurrection efforts underway in the mountains of North Carolina. At least, there is a promise of resurrection efforts.
In recent years, a lost attraction received a lot of attention after developers announced efforts to reopen the Maggie Valley landmark tourist attraction, Ghost Town in the Sky.
Ghost Town in the Sky, aka Ghost Town Village, is a long-shuttered Wild West-themed amusement park that sits atop a mountain in Maggie Valley, a beautiful remote location in the North Carolina mountains near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The popular tourist attraction originally opened in the early 60s but began stumbling in the 90s as revenue couldn’t support maintenance needs for rides, such as the famous Red Devil Roller Coaster.
In July 2002, a chair lift ride that took guests to the park from the bottom of the mountain broke down in the summer heat. This resulted in passengers being stranded for hours. A few days later, the park closed and was put up for sale.
The park has a long, complicated history of failed resurrections. And in short, Ghost Town has experienced bad luck and lived up to its name. It became a real ghost town.
Is Ghost Town in the Sky open?
Today, Ghost Town in the Sky is not open to the public. There have been several attempts to re-open the park, but none took hold.
There has been work done at the park periodically. Still, the investment to get the thing back up and running would take a lot of work and be substantial.
The park’s infrastructure is in shambles. Getting people and fresh water to the top of the mountain has been a real problem, and there’s no specific timeline for a potential reopening.
Can you still visit Ghost Town in the Sky?
No. Ghost Town in the Sky is private property and not open to visitors.
Last December, the park received some national attention after its appearance on “Moonshiners” when Mark and Digger traveled up to Ghost Town to “hide their shine”.
But unless you know a guy like Mark and Digger, you’d be trespassing if you visit.
Will Ghost Town in the Sky reopen? 
The future of Ghost Town is still uncertain. As evidenced by two decades of failed attempts, the job of breathing life back into ghosts isn’t an easy one. Resurrection is a delicate process with many challenges, including housing and infrastructure problems.
In August of 2021, a key person working on the development for Ghost Town made a rare public speaking appearance.
At the time, The Mountaineer reported that Frankie Wood announced an investment of up to $200 million in front of the local Chamber of Commerce.
During the meeting, he noted that Ghost Town has “totally been through hell”. While some buildings could be saved and resurrected, it would not be more than “a few”.
At the time, Wood said he expected more information to be available in early 2022.
However, since that time, there have not major announcements regarding the re-opening attempts.
In February of 2022, The Mountaineer reported that Wood has been in several meetings with town boards, proposing zoning changes and navigating infrastructure problems.
Wood also mentioned basic plans to remodel the A-frame building in the parking lot, which may become a gift shop and piano bar that serves fried chicken and bar food.
Challenges in reopening Ghost Town in the Sky 
Many are starting to question whether or not these plans will ever materialize. For example, the A-frame building is reportedly riddled with mold.
Also, some question whether or not Wood is able to bring the old theme park back to life due to a complicated financial history.
The most recent resurrection talks first began in 2019 when Wood negotiated a deal with owner Alaska Presley. A new corporation was formed, Ghost Town in the Sky LLC, and Wood was signed on as a managing member.
Earlier this year, Wood indicated that success for the project will depend on cooperation from the city. But in a recent report, Alderman Phillip Wight said a majority of the town board has been obstructing Wood.
It is also important to note that Presley, the long-time owner of Ghost Town in the Sky, passed away at the age of 98 in April of 2022.
At the time of her passing, local news outlet Smoky Mountain News stated it is not clear if, or how, her passing would impact the efforts to redevelop the park.
What would a rehabilitated Ghost Town in The Sky look like?
Early last year, reports came in that Storyland Studios had been enlisted to help with the design and planning of the resurrected park. Storyland Studios is owned by Disney alumni Matt Ferguson, who has ties to Maggie Valley.
Previous plans for the resurrection of the park detailed mix-use retail and residential development.
Wood previously noted that the lower level of Ghost Town might look something like “Broadway on the Beach” in Myrtle Beach, which offers shopping, dining and entertainment.
The second floor could eventually be sold or leased for residential use, according to Smoky Mountain News. There is no word on what will become of the original rides.
However, Wood mentioned there may be some theme-park style rides, including a Ferris wheel.
What about housing and infrastructure?
Better infrastructure and housing are a big part of the resurrection plans to help Maggie Valley become the tourist destination it was always meant to be.
For instance, it is estimated that over 200 employees would be required to run the resurrected Ghost Town in the Sky. This means 200 families would require affordable housing in the area.
The area is also in need of restaurants, a grocery store and an urgent care facility to support a local economy. This could, in turn, support the park.
In previous meetings, Wood has stated they are working on a number of affordable housing programs. For example, this may include cottages, townhouses and RV resorts.
When will Ghost Town reopen?
As of 2022, it is unclear if and when Ghost Town will reopen. There are efforts currently underway. However, a timeline for the reopening has not yet been formally announced.
In fairness, there will remain a heavy level of skepticism as previous attempts have looked promising only to fail.
The process will be fascinating, even if they only get the doors open.
Why did Ghost Town in the Sky close?
As beautiful as Maggie Valley is, it couldn’t attract the number of tourists needed to support the park.
At one time, Ghost Town served as a worthy rival to the pre-Dollywood Silver Dollar City/Goldrush Junction theme parks. But as Dollywood and Pigeon Forge soared, Ghost Town began fading.
And as the park cut corners to keep things open, rides and services began to fail. This trapped Ghost Town Village in a vicious cycle in which it had to fight to stay alive.
Time will tell if the efforts are enough to bring it back.
It would be wonderful for Maggie Valley to have the park back. It would be wonderful for Western North Carolina and the region in general.
If you build it, will they come?
The nostalgia factor alone would be awesome. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people who grew up going to Maggie Valley and have wonderful childhood memories. These folks would love to share that experience with the whole family.
They’d love to take their kids or, more likely, their grandkids.
Ultimately, the effort will be a fascinating test case of the power of nostalgia.
In theory, if this plan works it could mean new life for legacy entertainment options throughout the region. Places with a strong history that through bad breaks or bad management decisions got caught in a downward spiral in a competitive business.
They couldn’t bounce back.
But until the doors open and we see how things go, we’re left to speculate.
You can build it, but will they come?
Should they revive this park in Maggie Valley NC? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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