Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Fitz's Opinion: Pima County can revive Old Tucson with the right entrepreneurs
editor's pick

Fitz's Opinion: Pima County can revive Old Tucson with the right entrepreneurs

Pima County’s Old Tucson Task Force is currently evaluating proposals for Old Tucson, the Western movie set theme park that’s up for lease. I imagine the bids are intriguing.

“Tell us your name and your proposal.”

“Pete and Hilda Popper. We’re from Patagonia. Originally Pottstown. Here you can see an aerial view drawn up by our son, Pauly Popper, of our proposal, ‘Hilda Popper’s Javelina Petting Zoo.’”

“Next.”

“Tarantula Petting —”

“Next.”

“Gila Monster Pet —”

“Next.”

“Knott’s Huckelberry Farm.”

“Next.”

“Name’s Buster Disney. No relation.”

“Go ahead.”

“Paint the town red. Make ‘Satan’ the sheriff. Add a ‘Lake of Fire’ for ‘Beelzebub’s Bumper Boats.’ Throw in our summer heat and you got ‘Hell on Earth’ the amusement park! We expect our ‘Snowball-in-Hell’ snow cones to be big sellers —”

“Next.”

“Imagineers of Barrio Hollywood. We envision a theme park based on life out West here in modern-day Tucson centered on our daily performance of ‘Melanoma: The Musical’ featuring a cast of —”

“Next.”

“Kiki Rickles. Why not celebrate Old Tucson itself? Imagine the voice of Samuel L. Jackson narrating the tour: ‘And then the fire happened. The theme park known as ‘Old Tucson: Twelve Miles and a Hundred Years from Town’ became known as ‘Old Tucson: 100-Miles from a Fire Hydrant.’”

“Next.”

“John Doe. Your park should definitely have a ‘Kon-Tiki Room’ featuring an animatronic Joe Bonanno and other —”

“Next.”

“Howdy. Lurleen Laveen here from Wagon Wheels East RV Park. I call my idea ‘Little Mexico,’ or ‘Mexico-cito.’ I sketched my first ride idea here on this Arroyo Cafe napkin. I call it ‘Border Wall Catapult!’ Ain’t been tested yet but I’m pretty sure it can lob up to 300 pounds clear into Pinal County.“

“Next.”

“I got another one. ’Border Tunnel!’ It’d be like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ without the Caribbean. And our scary pirate robots would be mules and drug lords and —”

“Next.”

“Greta Pickle. Good afternoon. Picture a Western ghost town of the future, devastated by climate change with attractions like ‘Extinction Express,’ ‘Carbon Land’ and ‘It’s a Hot World’ — with animatronic Polar Bears singing ‘It’s a hot, hot world.’”

“Next.”

“We’re Dale and Roy. Two words? Camel rides!”

“Next.”

“Ostrich ri —”

“Next.”

“Kangaroos?!”

“Next.”

“Steve call me ‘Steverino” Sanchez. Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down? I was in my car listening to 101.7 and the idea just came to me! ‘Margaritaville!’ Take it! Free of charge. Just name it ‘Steverino’s Margaritaville.’”

“Next.”

“Pepe Pinkerton of Pinkerton Design. Our proposal? Real Old West thrill rides that push the envelope. We’ve got three so far: ‘Runaway Buckboard,’ ‘Flash Flood Escape’ and ‘Cattle Stampede.’ We are confident ‘Cattle Stampede’ will do for Tucson what the ‘Running of the Bulls’ did for Pasadena.”

“Pamplona. Next.”

“Chuckie ‘Chewbacca’ Wang. I have bitcoin investors lined up. Upgrade your gunfighters to stormtroopers, add giant sandworms and call it ‘Old Tatooine.’ I have friends who’d camp in line to get in.”

“Next.”

“Snowbird Aviary.”

“Next.”

“I’m Candy Samples, from the Save the Hill and Pond Coalition. Relocate the Reid Park Zoo ‘Pathways to Asia’ expansion to Old Tucson’s Chinatown Alley.”

“Next.”

“Glenda Gladiola. As you can see on this schematic our proposed park will feature an array of fun high-stakes games. Like scorpion hopscotch, rattlesnake wrangling and bobcat roping. Plus we’re in talks with the Discovery Channel to shoot a season of ‘Naked and Afraid’ in an adjacent cholla forest.”

“Next.”

“Popeye Portillo. Three words. Yul Brynner Cowboy Robots.”

“That’s four words. Next.”

“Coyote Windwalker. Has any amusement park ever celebrated the true history of the Old West? We begin our visit with ‘Genocide: The Ride’ which takes guests to ‘The Indigenous People’s Relocation Merry-Go-Round,’ where a live-action re-creation of Wounded Knee —”

“Upbeat! Next.”

“Mariah Candles for ‘Madame Tussaud’s Solar-Powered Wax Museum.’”

“Next.”

“Ellen Musk. No relation. My backers and I propose to rebuild the original pre-fire movie set, restore the train, revive the stagecoach rides, and add guided biking, horseback riding and hiking. Additionally our plan includes constructing state-of-the-art soundstages with CGI capability, a huge water park using reclaimed water and a spectacular climate-controlled adventure dome filled with Western-themed thrill rides.“

“Very funny. Next.”

“William Madison III. Williamsburg Foundation. We propose re-creating a living Tucson of the 1870s with residents portraying murderers, drunks and prostitutes. Throughout the day visitors will learn about Tucson’s past by witnessing assaults, hangings, massacres and —”

“Next.”

“Ruby Sands. I’m by myself. I was hoping to sing ‘The Night They Burned Old Tucson Down’ by Mike Sterner. Where’s Simon Cowell?”

“Next.”

David Fitzsimmons: tooner@tucson.com.


Subscribe to stay connected to Tucson. A subscription helps you access more of the local stories that keep you connected to the community.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News