Monday, January 21, 2013

Aerial Antics: Opryland Today

Writing yesterday's Vault got me thinking about how I've never really investigated Opryland much, having never visited it before it closed in 1997.  As I love to check out things from above, the park's remains were something I thought would be neat (though a bit depressing) to see.

Here's the entire Opryland property from above.  Over on the left is the Opryland Hotel, and the area inside the red lines is roughly where it seems the theme park sat.  The bulk of the gigantic mall that replaced the park is actually located in its former parking lot, though some of it sits atop where rides once were.

At the top of the red box is part of the park that still stands, and on the left of the red box is the remains of one of the park's rides.

Here is a closer view of that top part of the park that still stands.  It was actually the park's entrance plaza, and also the home of the Grand Ole Opry.  That's the larger building in the center.  Guests coming to the park entered from the parking lot which is where the mall building can be seen.  The could purchase their tickets, or even see a show at the smaller theater seen here as well.

The formal park gates looked to have been located on the very left of this shot, where the plaza meets the road with the mall beyond.

Here's the ride remains that I spoke of earlier.  If you look at the larger image you can trace the entire layout of the park's river rapids ride, known as Grizzly River Rampage.  The box in the upper right, near the parking lot, was the station and boat lift.  The journey then traced the rectangular layout, with the reservoir for the ride in the middle.  On the bottom of the photo the path seems to disappear, that's because there was a large tunnel boats floated through that is covered in plants.

Here's another view, showing about half the ride.  You can see the gigantic rock formations that lined the waterway's path, and if you look close you can clearly see the entrance to the tunnel on the right.

The remains of Grizzly stood for many years, with the busy hotel on one side and a bleak parking lot on the other... however if you head there today you won't be able to see much.

That's because a year or so ago the area was cleared out for new buildings associated with the hotel.  A large new building was already standing in this shot from Google, and the ride's totally gone. 

If you zoom in some you can still seen some rubble from where the ride's station once was, and even where some of the large faux rock formations were.  Above is an example, I added a couple red marks to help your eye compare the two images.

Here's a link to Bing's aerials for the former park.