Anyone can announce a $2B theme park — building it is another story

A proposed theme park in Oklahoma faces a tough opponent: business realities.

theme park

Vinita, Oklahoma used to claim the world’s largest McDonald’s, but its 29.1k-square-foot, turnpike-spanning point of pride is no more.

Last week, the town’s spell of obscurity appeared to lift: Mansion Entertainment Group announced plans to plant a $2B theme park about the size of Disneyland in Vinita’s backyard.

The American Heartland amusement park, Mansion says, will soon bring “Americana-themed” entertainment — and 5m+ visitors per year — to Route 66.

With rides spanning six themed lands, such as Liberty Village and Electropolis, American Heartland looks like a good time — in the renderings.

Will it ever be more than fanciful artwork, though?

Mansion says the park will open in 2026. That’d be grand for the families (and economy) of northeast Oklahoma, but it may be a tougher road ahead.

Industry expert Robert Niles runs Theme Park Insider, and his analysis raises questions for American Heartland:

  • How’s it getting financed? “$2B? That’s the current market cap of the entire Six Flags chain.” Niles says “even a $100m park would struggle to make back investment.”
  • … because how are millions getting there? The site is “miles away from any major city or airport.”
  • How can a park without popular tie-ins attract enough visitors? Disney World attendance is slumping despite the pull of Mickey, Marvel, Star Wars, and more. American Heartland’s biggest IP is… freedom?

The best news here: We all win no matter what.

  • If American Heartland gets built, we’ll have fun in a few years with the inevitable fried monstrosities on its concession menus.
  • If it doesn’t materialize, we’ll get to revisit the long list of foiled theme parks, including our favorite pipe dreams: Kansas’s Land of Oz and Virginia’s Disney America.

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