A new 125-acre theme park is being pitched to be built outside the small town of Vinita, Oklahoma by 2026, with its backers comparing the project to the likes of Disney and Universal.
The press release for American Heartland Theme Park and Resort said the complete development, backed by Branson, Missouri’s Mansion Entertainment Group, LLC, would span 1,000 acres. A 320-acre RV park and campground would open first in spring 2025.
An Americana-themed park would follow in 2026, if all goes according to plan. While the press release did not detail any planned attractions, concept art shows at least two roller coasters, two outdoor theaters, and a log flume.
“At the crossroads of the heartland, Oklahoma is an attractive location for a family entertainment destination,” American Heartland CEO Larry Wilhite said in a statement. “The state’s business-friendly approach and innovative partnership efforts have helped make this possible. We look forward to bringing unforgettable generational experiences to Oklahoma.”
The press release estimated that the park could draw more than two million out-of-state guests. However, Vinita is not close to any major city or airport (Tulsa is about a 60-mile drive), and local attendance would be sparse; its planned home of Craig County, Oklahoma actually saw its population decline by 6 percent between 2010 and 2020. In contrast, planned Universal, Peppa Pig, and Mattel theme parks are being built in booming metro areas like Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix.
It’s also worth noting that theme park history is littered with parks similar to American Heartland which never came to fruition. Many of those unrealized parks came from experienced theme park operators such as Disney. Mansion Entertainment Group, on the other hand, has no experience in the industry and is most well-known for running Branson’s Mansion Theatre.
The company has hired experienced theme park design firms to work on the project, including THG Creative, headed by Phil Hettema, who led the team which planned Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.
As veteran theme park journalist Robert Niles wrote on Theme Park Insider, “I do hope that the team at American Heartland can get this built. But this proposal reads like too many failed new American theme park projects for me to get too excited about it just yet.”