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Plans for Ghost Town property begin to emerge

Ghost Town remains one of the most unique parcels of land in the country. Cory Vaillancourt photo Ghost Town remains one of the most unique parcels of land in the country. Cory Vaillancourt photo

There is perhaps no parcel of land in Haywood County that generates as much interest as the one that’s home to long-shuttered mountaintop amusement park Ghost Town in the Sky, but as social media misinformation continues to arise, the property’s developers are now revealing tantalizing details of the incredibly complex plan for the venture and the progress that’s already been made. 

“We can’t put the cart before the horse,” said one developer, who has been speaking exclusively with The Smoky Mountain News on the condition of anonymity since October 2019. 

First, as to the park itself, the financial ramifications of the Coronavirus Pandemic did indeed get in the way of speedy progress during 2020. According to developers, a number of the water and sewer issues that have plagued the property in the past have now been resolved, clearing the way for improvements.

The park’s quaint main street, home to fanciful establishments like the Red Dog Saloon, a jail and several cafes, will be gutted and completely rehabbed.

The disused, weathered buildings have done little more than rot over the past few years and had also been subject to vandalism before a high-tech security system and a stepped-up law enforcement presence was recently put into place. 

The buildings, however, will be rehabbed — faithful 3-D renderings will ensure that the new main street remains almost indistinguishable from the facades lovingly remembered by generations of tourists and locals since the 1960s; at this point in time, it’s cheaper to start from scratch with ADA-compliant modern amenities than it is to attempt to salvage what the ravages of time have wrought on the structures.

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Ultimately, what’s next for the main street is very similar to a Biltmore Village concept. The ground floor of the buildings will be home to unique shops and boutiques, and possibly even some brand-name retail or dining outlets as well. The second floor of those buildings will eventually be sold or leased as condominiums for residential use. 

At the base of Buck Mountain, a new hotel will be constructed on the west end of the parking lot, facing east. According to developers, a major national chain is interested, but regardless, the building will have a “lodge-like” appearance so as to blend with the environment. Behind and above that, just to the west, will be a smattering of vacation rental cottages. 

As it turns out, the plan for Ghost Town doesn’t just involve the former amusement park; there exists in Maggie Valley a critical need for all manner of infrastructure to support the project, especially in terms of workforce availability and development. 

More than 200 employees will be needed to operate and maintain the park, but those people can’t just walk off the street and start working. They’ll need training to operate new rides, and whatever rides remain after renovation. 

Those employees will also need somewhere to live. The housing crisis that’s plagued Western North Carolina continues in full force, so a number of new affordable housing developments in the vicinity of, but not on, the property itself will begin to appear.

There are also plans for a new manufacturing facility that will build modular homes to populate these affordable housing developments. 

Maggie Valley also lacks other essential businesses that would be needed to support the new venture, including a high-volume restaurant or two. Plans are underway to remedy this as well as two other critical needs that would make Maggie Valley more of a live/work community than it is today — a grocery store and an urgent care facility. 

There are some big names associated with the project — instantly recognizable to most — but ongoing discussions prevent their disclosure. 

Further details on the Ghost Town revitalization project will be released by The Smoky Mountain News as they become available in the coming months. 

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  • There are lots of past employees who would gladly take their jobs back...and we already live in the no new housing required.

    When I worked there for many years...older people would tell me they had visited when they were kids, then with their own children, and were back with their they were lifetime visitors...So changing it to anythihng but the original Ghost Town would lose those tourists.

    posted by TB

    Saturday, 05/28/2022

  • Sounds like once it’s done, it will no longer be anything like the Ghost Town we all knew and loved. Nothing at all like an amusement park. From the sounds of these plans it seems that it will be more like The Island in Pigeon Forge. It’s actually sad in my opinion. I have fond memories of Ghost Town from my childhood and always hoped it would be reopened do o could share the experience with my kids. Glad I have pictures I can share. So sad.

    posted by JP

    Sunday, 04/03/2022

  • I so miss ghost town in sky I have so many memories of going there with my family in my childhood ? I would have loved to be able to take my children and grandchildren there. Even my husband whom never got to go.I hope it reopens .I would love to visit again in my lifetime

    posted by Mglidwel

    Friday, 02/18/2022

  • I really hope that this gets reopen because it would be amazing to return as an adult with my child now because I used to come as a child myself and it was amazing day and I can't wait to see what guys can do with it now I know that if anyone gets it and put some faith and ingenuity to it it can't be done and I pray that the sky opens up to the heavens above and brings that Grace because there's nothing better than what ghost town was and can be again

    posted by Crystal G G Graham-Goins

    Friday, 12/10/2021

  • I would love a job there will to relocate .

    posted by Barbara parsons

    Friday, 09/10/2021

  • Is Ghost Town open for business if so what time and days

    posted by DavidGwynn

    Wednesday, 07/14/2021

  • Open it and we will come in droves!

    posted by Ginger Mullinax

    Monday, 05/31/2021

  • Chain restaurants are considered vital infrastructure in this plan? Not what Maggie needs..

    posted by Jason

    Thursday, 05/27/2021

  • I’m sooo excited that Ghost Town will live on. We as a family came every year for our vacation for many years and enjoyed going to Ghost Town. I can’t wait to take my grandson back to “my old familiar Loved Ghost Town”.

    posted by Pam Henderson

    Monday, 05/24/2021

  • I would like to be kept updated on progress in reopening. Went years ago and have grandchildren and children anxious to go.

    posted by Enos Lawson

    Friday, 05/14/2021

  • We took our kids when they were little to ghost town in the sky. We now live in Tennessee in the smoky mountains and our kids are all grown and we would love to see that area booming again before we get too old so we could visit.

    posted by Phyllis Burr

    Saturday, 05/08/2021

  • I was GT's honky-tonk/Can-Can pianist for sev years in the late 80's. We also did Shows in the Mad Dog Saloon alternating with the Big shows across the street.

    I'd be interested in playing again. No housing required, I live in Asheville. My contracts were for 180 days with no days off.

    Avail for an interview.

    Kind regards,

    Steve Becker
    828 254 1178
    828 712 7851 c

    posted by steve becker, pianist

    Friday, 04/30/2021

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