The 2nd Happiest Place on Earth

July 13th, 2009

The 2nd Happiest Place on Earth - Vacation

“I was a little surprised when the Opryland employee approached my family in the midst of some huge family argument and asked to take a souvenir photo of us. I was even more surprised that mom bought it. She’s the only one who attempted to smile.”

(submitted by Beth)

72 Responses to “The 2nd Happiest Place on Earth”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I loved Opryland! It was really fun!

  2. mc says:

    didn’t know oprah had a park!

  3. lizzie says:

    pft… nothing beats the little duece coupe… the place with ac that you didn’t get yelled b/c if you break it you buy it! stupid glass blown birds… i hated those things anyway!

  4. Alli says:

    The 80’s! It burns!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Loved Opryland. Miss it lots. I have some awkward photos myself from there. One of them is in the wacky guitar cutouts. Loved the rides. Once made my mom sick on the “Little Deuce Coup” ride. She didn’t know it spinned in the dark. But that was a good place to go when it was so hot outside.

  6. colin kilpatrick says:

    I don’t know if I said it yet but I KNOW THESE PEOPLE! Too funny! That’s their natural look, seriously!

  7. Bleah! says:

    Mom’s the only one with the Opryland regulation bouffant.

  8. PocketPal says:

    you wear the black top today, i’ll wear the matching shorts.
    tomorrow, you can have the white top, and i’ll get your shorts.

  9. Krista says:

    Dad & the kids have the exact tight-lipped no smiling mouth.
    At least Mom knows how to have some fun!

  10. Rachel says:

    I still miss Opryland. I have so many wonderful childhood memories from that place. It was much more fun than that family apparently thought it was!

  11. Cheryl says:

    Opryland was a lot of fun! We went there while passing thru on a family vacation when I was a teenager. I was not so much into the country music but the rides were great. Even my grandfather went on the big coaster!

  12. KatieMB says:

    LOVE the caption!!

  13. graphicartist2k5 says:

    going to opryland is alot like going to delaware, but a with a little less excitement.

  14. Good old Opryhole! Inside joke. Opryland was built right beside the Cumberland River in, what turned out to be, a huge depression in the land. It existed for several years with no problem…until 1976. That Spring it rained and rained and rained. Opryland, set to open in the next 30 days or so, had stocked all the gift shops…the games graced with tons of stuffed animals, and most rides were in final inspection. Suddenly the water started to rise, spilling over into the park and filled it up! There are pictures showing the water just 6 inches or so below the store signs hanging from the porches. EVERYTHING was ruined.

    Then a dike was built and Opryland never flooded again. As you might imagine though, the ‘opryhole’ jokes lived on.

    As for the ‘all country music all the time’ assumption….not exactly. Opryland celebrated all types of music, for instance:

    The Mod Area. 50’s music played from hidden speakers as guests strolled into, through and out of the Mod Area. The workers were dressed like 50’s car hops. The games were built on the same era, as were the rides. The ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ was a tilt-a-whirl-type ride, the Timber Topper was a roller coaster that shot on a rail through the tree tops.

    New Orleans Area. Blues music surrounded visitors to the park as they had the opportunity to sip mint juleps in a Bourbon Street-type restaurant. There was a Gospel show in this area along with a magnificent Carousel that had some historical significance. (I can’t remember the story anymore…fibro fog.)

    Hilltop Area. Bluegrass and Country music played on the speakers. There were live shows with fiddles and steel guitars. The Flume Zoom, a log ride, and the Screamin’ Demon, both had tracks that wound through the woods before splashing down at the end. Craftspeople like leatherworkers, glassblowers, and woodcarvers worked on their pieces as guests watched or bought their own unique piece to take home as a souvenier.

    State Fair Area. A mixture of songs played from the speakers as guests threw baseballs in the Gaucho Gallery, played Ring The Coke, tried to get a softball into a bushel basket, or Skee Ball (for a quarter a game). The Tennessee Waltz, a swing ride was in this area along with a huge rollercoaster with double-loops, called The Cannonball. All kinds of state fair-type foods were available, as well.

    From years 1973 to 1976 I had a season pass. Our parents would just drop us at the entrance of the park in the morning and pick us back up in the evening. We loved the shows. ‘I Hear America Singing’ was a Broadway-type musical covering all eras of music. In a replica of a 1900-era Showboat, contemporary songs were performed. One day they filmed several scenes for Robert Altman’s movie “Nashville” in this setting. Included with the regular performers were Ned Beatty, Scott Glenn, Geraldine Chaplin along with Yours Truly and Friends right on the front row. It is not unusual to find a star today who got their start at Opryland. Cynthia Rhodes who played “Penny” in “Dirty Dancing” and ‘Tina Tech” in Flashdance, got her start singing and dancing on the stages of Opryland.

    As you can see, Opryland was built on MUSIC, with the Opry House there on the site. However, there were many more things to do, see, enjoy, eat, and remember fondly.

    The summers of 1977 and 1978 will forever be ‘the good old days’. Those summers I worked in the State Fair and Mod area games. I came to know Opryland like the back of my hand and love it for the unique gift it was to music lovers everywhere.

    • Peg says:

      What a great history lesson! Thanks!

    • Cross bow says:

      Did ya copy and paste this from Wikipedia??? Holy crap!!

    • IAmNoOne says:

      I still the remember the year I had a season pass and the person at the gate asked me for a photot I.D.. I was ten and yelled at him, “what do I need a drivers license to drive the tin lizzies?”

    • Tocsnai says:

      Thank you for taking the time!

      My favorite birthday as a kid came on the day we attended our local amusement park in a pouring rain. The family pictures we took standing next to “You will get wet on this ride” signs that were themselves knee-deep in water are priceless to me.

      Keep those memories alive. They’re sweet things.

    • Krista says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your memories.
      While I was never able to enjoy Opryland in personl, your vivid descriptions made the park come alive.

    • Denise says:

      I’m glad you loved Opryland, but that was awkward to read/skim.

    • Annette says:

      I was a kid in the 70s living in Memphis, Tennessee. The highlight of my summers was our annual trip to Opryland. It was heaven on earth to us. Disneyworld was a world away. Too expensive. And besides, we loved music — any kind of music. Thank you so much for a wonderful post that makes me fondly remember the park, the fun and even the names of some of the shows I loved to watch year after year.

    • Tori says:

      I completely forgot about all the wonderful things about the Opryland of long ago until reading your blog. Thank you for taking the time to reminisce and remind us of how wonderful that time in our lives really were!!!

    • Andrea_TN says:

      Update: Opryland (how I still refer to the complex that includes the Grand Ole Opry, the Opryland Hotel, and the mall Opry Mills) has flooded again–May 2010. Apparently, the levy was not high enough. The good news is that everything has finally been renovated and reopened, with Opry Mills finally reopening earlier this year.

      I do miss Opryland the Park. My friends and I had lots of fun there during the summer.

      Some of the rides were bought by Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

  15. Yep says:

    Wouldn’t you be this mad if you had to go to Opryland?

    • Olson says:

      Absolutely NOT!!! Did you ever get to go??
      I went a few times before it was closed down to put in a mall (yeah, the world needs more MALLS…..sheesh) and it was AWESOME! Chaos, The Hangman, The Wabash Cannonball, The Grizzly River Rampage……all great rides. I don’t even live in TN anymore but it still makes me SO SAD that this park is gone.

    • ferfer says:

      You obviously never went to Opryland. It was one of a kind.

      • hs says:

        you’re all forgetting Ole Mill Scream & the bridge!! best place on earth on a sticky, hot, southern, summer day.

  16. Joanne says:

    Mom’s a little bit country, the rest of the family-a little bit rock n roll!

  17. Jeb says:

    Opryland WAS a great amusement park. I have a lot of great (and a few sucky) memories from there.

  18. jessD says:

    Guess Dollywood was closed this year…darn.

  19. paydawg says:

    The only happy one is the one not holding a ticket. Go figure.

  20. Marigold says:

    What’s gracing Mom’s shirt? Postcards? Playing cards??

  21. Insanewiches says:

    Actually, it looks like Mom lost her ticket.

  22. Heather says:

    When you draw straws to decide on the family vacation, one person is going to win their choice and everyone else just has to go along. This year, mom won.

  23. Lindsey says:

    ‘Tis a shame Opryland no longer exists for we’ll never see another jewel just like this…

  24. Allison says:

    Opryland was the best f****** thing ever. They replaced it with that horrendous mall Opry Mills and should be severely punished for it. I miss the Wabash Cannonball >O.

    • Allison says:

      Also, Opryland had nothing to do with country music — it was just a purely awesome amusement park.

      • Greg says:

        Umm, ACTUALLY Opryland was COMPLETELY themed around music, both Country and other. The Rocking Roller Coaster? The Little Duece Coupe? The Wabash Cannonball? Plus, there were redneck themed shows and games EVERYWHERE. So, sorry, but it did have a country music theme. That being said, it WAS awesome, and it was a GREAT spot for awkward photos like this one.

    • Doc says:

      I loved Chaos, the indoor roller coaster.

    • Mel says:

      Can you just imagine Dad saying “hey kids, let’s pack up the minivan and drive 300 miles and go to the MALL! Yeah!! How’s that sound?”

      Nope, me neither… 🙁

      RIP Opryland… 🙁

    • Peg says:

      I loved Opryland. It had great water rides. I hate to shop….

    • Robert says:

      Agree 100%. I grew up near Nashville and going to Opryland was the highlight of the summer for us kids. GREAT amusement park. They put up the horrible Opry Mills mega-mall after I moved away and when I found out it was like a piece of my childhood got, er, replaced by a shopping mall, or something.

      Wabash Cannonball was terrific. My favorite was the Flume Zoom and the gondola rides across the park. Sigh.

      • Mel says:

        Robert – on the north end of the mall parking lot, there is still the rock wall and the remnants of the canal that was the Grizzly River Rampage… I park out there when going to the Opryland Hotel (beats paying $17 to self-park at the hotel) and seeing that always makes me sad… They closed the park just a few months before I moved here. 🙁 I will never forget the time we rode the Rampage six times in one day, just to get wet and cool off.

        • Richard Davies says:

          Apparently Opryland closed because the river flooded the site most winters & caused damage to the attractions.

          I went to the Mall twice when I was there, we only really needed to go once but we turned up for the Grand Old Opry 24 hours early & had time to kill.

          My Mum & jetlag are a dangerous combination when planning things!

          • Ron says:

            The park did not flood yearly. the biggest flood in recent history was in May of 2010. The mall is still not opened. Bass Pro is back and a few stores are opening this month. I’m with everyone they should have kept Opryland,

    • sydsmom says:

      Oh wow, the Wabash Cannonball was my favorite!

  25. Heidi says:

    Walley World must have been closed.

  26. laurie says:

    I bet they wish there was a mall there instead.

    Oh wait.

  27. jenjen says:

    “Does everybody have their ticket?”
    “Alright, everybody remember where we parked”

  28. Maya B says:

    Apparently Mom’s the only one who likes country music.

  29. girlgeek says:

    Well, I guess this proves the point that country music makes people sad.

    • Trev says:

      You’ve got no idea. That place was not just about country music. Sure, they did some shows and stuff but there was roller coasters, awesome food, and you couldn’t beat the staff. Everyone there was genuinely happy to be there. This family’s faces were broken.

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