'Theme park' set for South Rim
There's a theme park in northern Arizona's future, and it will be a lot closer to the Grand Canyon than Williams. In fact, it will be right on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Requests for proposals are going out Monday that call for a "tram-like mining railway," an "ore recovery water flume with rescue boats" and an "elasticized human recoil apparatus" east of Grand Canyon Village at Mather Point.Conservationists say the projects seem suspiciously similar to a roller coaster, a water slide and a Bungee jump platform, three staples of traditional theme parks. Park officials said federal budget cuts forced them to think creatively. "We're operating in a federal funding environment in which growth has to pay for itself," said Park Superintendent Joe Allstunned. "If we hope to grow from 5 million to 6 million visitors a year, somebody has to pay the bills." Outgoing Interior Secretary Gale Norton approved the construction during her last days in office
Allstunned denied that the new attractions would amount to a theme park on the edge of one of the world's Seven Natural Wonders. He called them "historical family amusements" designed to fill the dead time between the 15 minutes initially spent looking over the railing and the first seating for dinner at Bright Angel Lodge at 5 p.m. "We're already letting more planes through the canyon and more motorized rafts down the Colorado," he said. "This is just a logical extension of that mass tourism model."
DEVELOP OR BE ANNEXED
Analysts said Allstunned had little choice. It was either generate more revenue through concession contracts or face annexation from the community of Tusayan, much like the Wahweap Marina/Hotel complex in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is facing an unfriendly annexation bid by the city of Page.
The South Rim RFP is also seen as a pre-emptive move against a proposed theme park in Williams that has yet to solidify its financial backing. "We decided that if the same tourists were going straight from the Grand Canyon to a roller .... er, tram railway in Williams, why not give them the whole package right here?" said GCNP spokeswoman Mary O'Hugme.
Entrance fees, which had been scheduled to increase this May from $20 to $25 a car for a week inside the park, will now be raised to $100 and cover all attractions. To stave off annexation attempts by Tusayan, park officials have offered to build a 5,000-car parking structure in the middle of Tusayan's strip mall, with Tusayan allowed to keep all parking fees and build fast-food restaurants on each level.
BULLET TRAIN IN WORKS
O'Hugme said the Park Service will encourage the successful park bidder to also take over the historic Grand Canyon Railway, which has been put up for sale by its owners. Park officials would like to see the old locomotives replaced with a bullet train. "Imagine rapid transit service from Williams to Grand Canyon Village," she said. A new rail line also would descend from the South Rim alongside Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch, then ascend to the North Rim. "If New York City's subway trains can plunge through the East River, why can't we traverse the Grand Canyon?" Allstunned said.
O'Hugme said once the Rim-to-Rim rail lines are built across the Canyon, lighting the canyon at night will follow. "It'll be similar to the setup at Niagara Falls," she said. "But more awe-inspiring, with strobe lights and changing colored beams. Like a fireworks show." Victoria Radstenberg from Chicago said she was disappointed with her nights spent recently in a cabin at Grand Canyon Village. "It was fine during the day, and the sunset was nice, but the nightlife here is horrible," she said. "It was just so dark."
Richard Holda Mayo, spokesman for the Grand Canyon Trust, said his organization supported the rail plan as long as the train engines ran on recycled hamburger grease from the Tusayan fast food restaurants. "You've heard of biodiesel? Well, this is burger diesel," Holda Mayo said. As for the water flume ride, the Trust will insist on using the recycled wastewater during the summer that Arizona Snowbowl doesn't need. The cars in the roller-coaster-like tram mining railway will need to be solar-powered, Holda Mayo added. U.S. Rep. Rick Forent noted that the Grand Canyon represents the last unguarded entrance into Arizona from Mexico for illegal aliens.
Development of a theme park, he said, might publicize that loophole and prove too much of a distraction for Homeland Security agents, who currently work the river as undercover rafting guides. He suggested attaching mini cameras to soaring California condors, enlisting them as a kind of avian "eyes in the skies." "I will fight to provide the extra protection needed to allow Americans to enjoy their national park without intrusions or distractions," he said.
If revenue falls below expectations, however, the Park Service bid packet includes a Mississippi-style gambling boat to float from the Phantom Ranch to Lake Mead. River levels may need to be adjusted accordingly. "The Canyon would be a great place for a paddle-wheeler, if only they could bump up the water to smooth out the ride. Otherwise, the rapids could really interrupt a poker game," river runner Lee Oarl said.
HA HA, April Fools!!!! This is a ficticious story written by the Daily Sun staff. Dont worry there are absolutely NO plans for a theme park in the Grand Canyon. Although they are talking about creating one in the town of Williams, a small town on I-40, the major highway that most tourists take to get to the Grand Canyon.