A Nashville-based boutique development company is attempting to bring Middle Tennessee its first major amusement park since Opryland closed 24 years ago.
Guerrier Development, comprising business partners (and wife and husband) DeLisa Guerrier and Elde Guerrier, announced Tuesday they are assessing site selections for what will be called Storyville Gardens. To sit on at least 100 acres if it materializes, the amusement park will feature education and world travel themes suitable for young people, according to a release.
Once the land is secured — an announcement is expected by year’s end — the Guerriers are hoping to see construction begin in mid-2022.
The first phase (of three) of Storyville Gardens is estimated to carry a $300 million price tag — funded from silent investors the Guerriers said they have secured, Nashville Business Journal reports.
“Investors across the country are very aware of Middle Tennessee’s growth," Elde Guerrier said in the release. "They also know the history of Opryland in Nashville and that it closed despite being profitable with stable attendance.
“There is a great deal of excitement and energy around Storyville Gardens, and we are looking forward to delivering it to the region,” he added.
Elsinore, California-based Storyland Studios, which has worked on projects for Disney, Legoland, LucasFilm, Marvel and Universal Studios, will oversee design work. The park will focus on cultural elements of Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.
“The potential for Storyville Gardens is limitless, both in terms of its ability to become a global attraction as well as its expected impact on children and families that will embrace reading and stories through world-class, experiential attractions,” Storyland Founder and Chief Creative Officer Mel McGowan said in the release. “The theme park industry will have never seen a park quite like this one. Tennessee families and tourists to the region are in for an experience they won’t be able to get anywhere else.”
In addition to rides, Storyville Gardens will offer more than 220,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment spaces, NBJ reports. It would be Nashville’s first theme park since Opryland, which closed in 1997 after a 25-year run.
NBJ, which was the first local media entity to report about Storyville Gardens, notes the Guerriers said an economic analysis estimates that the attraction could spur 2,260 construction jobs and, once operational, more than 1,700 jobs.
Storyville Gardens would offer a “highly immersive ‘edu-taining’ experience,” with its goal “to ignite and foster the desire to read beyond what is necessary in the classroom.”
According to various sources, Opryland during the late 1980s attracted almost 2.5 million visitors annually and remained profitable up until its closing. The park, which offered various rides and music-themed shows, operated on 120 acres off Briley Parkway and hugging the Cumberland River in East Davidson County.