After spending the majority of the winter and spring months working at a breakneck pace, the folks behind the newest Branson attraction, America’s Fun Park, finally opened Friday afternoon.
“That was a ‘soft open,’ and we’ll have our big ‘Grand Opening’ event next Friday,” said America’s Fun Park Manager Jason Reynolds.
Next Friday’s grand opening will include a ribbon-cutting, as well as all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies opening a business. There will also be special rates available for the first folks in the park.
“The first hundred people that come in will get armbands for $5 apiece,” Reynolds said. “The second hundred people that come in will get armbands for $10. We’re working hard with business owners and community leaders to come out and enjoy that big day with us.”
America’s Fun Park is a nine-acre amusement park set to bring back memories of state and county fairs of the past.
“That’s exactly what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Director of Operations Joe Cadmus said.
America’s Fun Park is located where the former Branson Heights Shopping Center once sat, which has been vacant since the 2012 Leap Day tornado. According to Cadmus, the 2012 Leap Day tornado has played a large role in his Branson experience so far.
“The morning after the tornado, I just happened to fly into town to visit Celebration City to buy a roller coaster,” Cadmus said. “I was driving up ‘The Strip’ and it was just mayhem, with power lines and debris in the road. I was just in awe.
“It’s completely crazy that I just happened to arrive that day, and now we’re opening up on a spot the tornado destroyed.”
So far, America’s Fun Park is home to several dining options, midway games, and more than a dozen rides. In addition to the “big coaster,” the Windstorm, the park will also feature a handful of other “major” rides in the Fujimi Wacky Worm coaster, a 50-foot Grand Carousel, the Zierer Wave Swinger, the Eyerly Spider, the Majestic 90-foot Bumper Cars, a Mac 90-foot Dark Ride, the Sellner Tilt-A-Whirl and the giant Manco Slide.
As far as kiddie rides, the park features the SBF Duck Boat, Venture Granny Bugs, the Eli Bridge Little Scrambler, Hamptons Motorcycle Jump, the Satori Road Runner and the Allen Herschell Sky Fighter.
While the park is slated to open featuring those rides, Cadmus and Reynolds said they’ll be bringing new attractions in with regularity. Even though there will be a rotating lineup of attractions and rides, Cadmus said there are two things the park will always feature.
“We’ll always have a carousel and we’ll always have a roller coaster,” he said. “We’ll probably always have a few kiddie rides, too, but we’ll always be bringing in new things.”
“We’ve learned you have to keep it fresh,” Reynolds added. “You can’t stay stagnant with the same old rides, especially with an attraction we want the community to visit. We all know the best marketing is word of mouth, and we want to give the locals reasons to keep coming back.”
According to Cadmus and Reynolds, the biggest attribute the park has is value.
“First and foremost, our niche is the value,” Reynolds said. “We’re a value-driven attraction right here on ‘The Strip,’ and we feel that’s a very good price point for this area.”
“We really want to focus on families, and that family experience,” Cadmus said. “Our layout, our rides, our attractions, our pricing, everything has been targeted to the family unit.”
Admission to the park and parking are free, and armbands can purchased for $20 to ride every ride with the exception of the Wind Storm, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., or between 4 p.m. and closing. To include the Wind Storm in the unlimited ride bracelets, folks will pay an additional $5.
“In addition to all that, what we feel will keep the people coming back is the quality of service we deliver,” Reynolds said. “That’s kind of the aspect I bring to the business. We’re trying to be the Chic-fil-A of attractions here in town. We want people to leave talking as much about our employees as they are the rides and the experience.”
The park will also feature different rides and attractions for each season.
“We’re planning on some Halloween things right after the summer,” Cadmus said. “Then we’ll fall right into Christmas in November and December. We’re also negotiating with different people about featuring some live music, and several different events as well.”
“Right now, we’re getting dialed in and focused on which acts would be best for what we’re trying to do here,” Reynolds added.
“We’ve got some plans for the fall, and we already have some new pieces coming in next week,” Cadmus said. “We’re going to integrate them during the hours we’re closed,so we’ll have things constantly happening.”
Even though the park opened yesterday, they’re already looking to the future.
“We’re already looking at different rides for next year,”Reynolds said. “As far as these rides, we’re going to gauge popularity by the ridership. Right now we’ve got something good for every member of the family, but some rides will be more popular than others, so those rides will stay, and we’ll focus on bringing in more rides that are similar to the most popular ones.”
“Also, we may bring in some rides on a limited basis for a month or so,” Cadmus added. “We’ll have something extreme and fun, folks can come out and experience it for a short run, then she’ll be on her way down the road.”
Reynolds said the frequency of changes, as well as the type of rides, are all predicated on the park’s success.
“We know this is going to be a home run, so we’ve got some amazing things lined up,” Reynolds said. “But if it’s a grand slam, which we think it’s going to be, then the sky’s the limit for what we can do here in Branson.”
“Everyone has embraced us, and they seem to be excited for what we’re bringing to Branson,” Reynolds said. “We’re going to try our best to deliver an experience where people will want to come back over and over again.”
“Branson is a great place, and we want to help enhance this community, rather than taxing it. I can’t even begin to explain how well-received we’ve been by this community.”
Visit americasfunpark.com for information.