Thursday, May 06, 2010

History of Theme Park Proposals in Southern Illinois

After last Saturday's announcement of a major new tourism and retail development more than one person has commented to me that they first thought it was about Busch Gardens, Marion's long-running urban legend that's been circulating for a quarter century.

It's not. Legoland is the park the developer has been trying to get, at least in its earlier incarnation at Glen Carbon. Whether its parent company, Merlin Entertainment, will look at Southern Illinois is not clear.

But Legoland isn't the first and neither is Busch Gardens (a project that has never been verified). The Tony Watkins Company, also of Glen Carbon, is still pursuing plans for Music City, Illinois, destination and convention resort in western Perry County near Pinckneyville.

Announced in 2007, Perry County officials were still publicly dealing with the developer the following year and the company is still promoting the county as a site of its North American plans on its website.

Even before the company arrived on the scene the land in question had been the subject of theme park interest and speculation for decades according to tourism people I've talked with over the years.

Going back a couple of decades we had the Amazing World of Superman proposed for Metropolis and an unnamed Silver Dollar City-type development pushed by area tourism promoter and operator Wayman Presley for three different locations in the western Illinois Ozarks.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

A natural spot for such a development would be the old prison property at Grayville, on I-64. Very accessible, and could draw a bunch of Indiana dollars. And the land is now municipally owned and free to a responsible developer. 200+ acres.