Wild West. It’s been a fundamental part of our American culture for more than a century. But today we’re going beyond the old Wild West to a new creation: Wild West World. That’s the name of a new theme park that is being built in Kansas. It is the first ever cowboy- themed park in the world, and it’s found in rural Kansas.
Thomas and Cheryl Etheredge are owners of the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper, which is a wonderful tourism attraction they created on their home farm near Wichita. The Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper built its success by offering hearty food, great cowboy music, and family entertainment.
Now Thomas and Cheryl are taking this concept up to a whole new level. A few years ago, Thomas conceived the idea of a theme park based around the American cowboy. It was an incredible vision: Creating a modern theme park based on the values and persona of the cowboy and the old west. It sounds like Disneyland in cowboy boots, and what better place to put it than along the Chisholm Trail in the heart of Kansas. After a lot of hard work and effort, this dream is about to become a reality.
In May 2007, Wild West World will open to the public. Thomas says, “Wild West World is all about family entertainment.” The $30 million park will feature approximately 24 rides, including two roller coasters, a 50-foot high water log ride, numerous thrill rides and family rides. It will also include skill games, food concession areas, gift shops, craft and artisan shops and music throughout the park.
The first part of Wild West World, which opened in summer 2006, was the Johnny Western Theatre, named for the award winning country singer and Wichita radio personality, Johnny Western. Appropriately enough, this theatre is a great venue for live performances. In fact, it is designed for perfect acoustics. The ductwork is made from cloth rather than metal so that the listener doesn’t hear the metal creaking with heat, for example. It is decorated in a classic, patriotic design and includes exhibit space or seating for more than 1,100 people.
In May 2007, the theme park itself will open adjacent to the theatre. Visitors will enter a spacious parking lot and then cross a footbridge to enter the park. Then they will walk along what looks like a historic street in an old western town, with old-time storefronts containing dining and shopping alternatives.
The street connects to a circular drive which goes around a manmade lake. The lake is circled by an old-time train which will continuously circulate and carry passengers. The various thrill rides, family rides and gazebos for free, live entertainment are located in easy walking distance around the circle. Wild West World will also include a catering area and pavilion seating for corporate or family retreats and meetings with room for some 3,000 people.Located in the rural town of Park City, population 5,944 people, Wild West World has the advantage of being located next to I-35 just north of Wichita, with a regional population of some 1.2 million people. It is estimated that Wild West World could attract 500,000 visitors in its first year. For more information or tickets, go to www.wildwestworld.net.