A couple of weeks ago it was finally announced that the famed Ozark Wildcat roller coaster at the former Celebration City amusement park would be torn down (My apologizes for being sluggish lately with the news updates). Since then we’ve had been holding out some small hope that perhaps an announcement was on the way regarding something new on the property, but later statements and releases from HFEC spokespeople have adamantly shot down any prospect that an announcement is coming anytime soon.
Ozark Wildcat was the crown attraction at the short-lived Celebration City amusement park. The park was supposed to be a sister attraction to Silver Dollar City, and focused on nighttime activities such as a gigantic fireworks show that could be enjoyed after a day at SDC. Numerous factors led to the park’s demise, including a change in the HFEC CEO position, complaints about the fireworks, traffic issues, and not achieving an overall increase to Branson tourism that led to “gate cannibalization” between CC and SDC. The property was gutted of all useful things in the years following its closure, but some of the buildings are now used for a church and a few non-profit organizations.
Ozark Wildcat is thought by many to be among the very best, if not the best, creation by the wood coaster firm Great Coasters International. The ride started off with a signature curving pre-drop that led into a dive underneath the lift hill structure. Several enormous sweeping turns followed, which wound the course around the lift and drop structure in a tight, disorienting frenzy. The highlight of the ride came towards the end, as the train hurtled through a narrow canyon underneath the lifthill and between two taller curves. Two or three small airtime bumps practically threw riders out of their seats, which at that point in coaster history was somewhat unprecedented for this type of ride.
Ozark Wildcat was stripped of all its useful parts long ago. The trains originally went to Wild Adventures, but were apparently eventually cannibalized for parts or reused at Dollywood. Parts of the station system and gates live on at Silver Dollar City at the Outlaw Run roller coaster. Let’s hope that someday HFEC will build a new Ozark Wildcat with the same layout somewhere else.
As for the rest of the Celebration City property, it sounds like Silver Dollar City has some major projects on the way for the next several years (though not much for 2016), and HFEC corporate has stated that any major project isn’t viable on the site until the state of Missouri completes the Ozark Mountain Highroad a little farther into Branson proper. That highway project has been stalled for decades with much political fighting. The terminus of that road would have led directly to Celebration City’s gate.
Discuss this development Here on our forums.
Relive the Ozark Wildcat experience with This POV Video on YouTube.