- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) - A proposed multimillion-dollar western theme park in Deadwood would include three themes: miners, cowboys and pioneers, and Native Americans during the days of the Old West.

Developers unveiled more specific plans for the Gold Nugget Theme Park during a public meeting this week, the Black Hills Pioneer reported (https://bit.ly/29YayMm ). The facility would cost at least $40 million and up to $80 million, according to International Theme Park Services President Dennis Speigel.

The idea will be to recreate the experience of an Old West gold mining town of the late 1800s, Speigel said. Deadwood was born in a gold rush and is now known as a destination for 2 million gamblers and other tourists each year.

The park is to differ from traditional ride-based theme parks, with attractions designed to immerse tourists in an Old West experience. Ideas include a water park, dinner theater, lodge, log cabin camp, tepee camp, travel coach tours, a steam train with train robbery re-enactors, and possibly staged arrests of tourists whose pictures are snapped as they enter the park and put on “wanted” posters.

“We want to give people an experience they can remember,” said David Johnson, a part of the development group. “It’s an opportunity we think we’re missing out here in this part of the country right now.”

Speigel said tourists today “want fantasy.”

“They want you take them somewhere they’ve never been taken before, and you certainly have the ability to do that in the Black Hills,” he said.

An updated feasibility study and business plan are expected to be complete in about two months. Developers hope to break ground for the theme park next year and open it in 2019. Deadwood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lee Harstad has said the proposal would be among the largest private projects built in Deadwood since legalized gambling came to town nearly three decades ago.

Mayor Chuck Turbiville said the theme park’s plans are exciting.

“I agree with a lot of what was said during the presentation in regard to this area. It does need something for families, and I hear this on a daily basis,” he said.

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com


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