The Mansion Entertainment Group (MEG) is establishing a world-class theme park that rivals the Disney theme park franchise. MEG is sinking $2 billion into a 1,000 acre complex. MEG predicts their American Heartland Theme Park and Resort will bring 4.9 million visitors to far northeastern Oklahoma in the Cherokee Nation.
What Amusement Park Is Coming to Northeast Oklahoma?
MEG is building the American Heartland Theme Park and Resort a few miles southeast of Vinita, Oklahoma, and a few miles west of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees between Craig, and Delaware Counties.
Where Is the American Heartland Theme Park?
As of 2021, the population of Vinita, Oklahoma, was 5,189. Vinita is the county seat of Craig County, Oklahoma. Vinita is only 12 miles west of Grand Lake’s northern border, where Grand Lake meets a wide swath of the Neosho River. Craig County abuts the Kansas border in far Northeastern Oklahoma, and Delaware and Ottawa Counties on the east.
MEG is building the American Heartland Theme Park and Resort off Historic Route 66 and Interstate 44, only a few miles west of Grand Lake between Craig and Delaware Counties. The theme park will be built on 125 acres of the 1,000-acre complex. The Three Ponies RV and Campground will be adjacent to the park.
The Three Ponies RV Park will offer an estimated 750 RV sites and 300 rental cabins. This will be the one of the largest campgrounds in the Southwestern U.S. Mather Campground in Grand Canyon National Park offers over 400 RV sites. The planned American Heartland Theme Park and Resort is comparable to the size of Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park® in Florida.
Is There a Theme Park for Oklahoma Heartland?
MEG considers Oklahoma as part of the American Heartland. The American Heartland is generally thought of as the American Midwest, and Oklahoma is more a part of the American Southwest. However, many people in the Southwest and Midwest U.S. think of Oklahoma as part of the American Heartland.
No, there is no theme park portraying Oklahoma as an Oklahoma Heartland. The American Heartland Theme Park will showcase six geographic regions of the American Heartland. There are no geographical boundaries of the American Heartland, the sentiment typically extends to rural and farming regions of America’s Great Plains, which Oklahoma is a part of.
Is Disney World Coming to Oklahoma?
The theme of the American Heartland Theme Park and Resort is sticking to American Heartland values. According to MEG, the American lands theme, “…aim to take visitors “on a journey through the best of the American Story.” The park will be broken up into six “distinctly American lands,” including the Great Plains, Bayou Bay, Big Timber Falls, Stony Point Harbor, Liberty Village, and Electropolis.
No, Disney World is not coming to Oklahoma. MEG is a completely separate company. The confusion is because Disney, Oklahoma, is named for Former Oklahoma U.S. Congressman Wesley E. Disney. Disney, Oklahoma, is close to the theme park property, but MEG has no affiliation with the Walt Disney Company or Walt Disney.
This $2 billion theme park is considered so economically stimulating and thrilling that it made it on NBC News in Chicago on July 23, 2023. The economic opportunities and wealth to the Cherokee Nation, Craig County, Oklahoma, and beyond are infinitesimal at this point. There is much to report on here, so we begin with…
Who Is Mansion Entertainment Group (MEG)?
In 2023, MEG encompasses a well-defined brand of creative production entities including Mansion Sound, Mansion Animation, Mansion Film & Television, and Mansion Studios. MEG operates entertainment venues across the U.S., including venues in Branson, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee.
MEG established its headquarters in Dixon, Tennessee, but began its empire with the creation of the iconic “Mansion Theatre” in Branson, Missouri, on January 12, 1992. Today, this historic 3000 seat venue is called The Mansion Theatre for the Performing Arts and home to an array of world class entertainment of numerous genres.
MEG defines its company profile in its mission statement on its homepage as “…on the verge of becoming the most powerful entity in family entertainment, with its unparalleled expertise across film, television, animation, music, theatre, and family immersive entertainment experiences. This includes an impressive roster of talents, cutting-edge technology, and innovative storytelling techniques of talents.”
According to Larry Wilhite, CEO, MEG, “It’s overwhelming and humbling to have been able to develop and grow these facilities, encompassing our studios, sound stages, stage for television, and live performances. MEG founder and chief creative officer Gene Bicknell said, “There is so much to celebrate about our country: its landscapes, its cultures and most importantly, its people. No matter where you’re from, you’ll feel right at home at American Heartland.”
What Is the American Heartland Theme Park and Resort Going to Offer?
American Heartland Theme Park and Resort (AH) is planned as a family-friendly park that promises timeless fun. The park offers a collection of six American geographical regions that will welcome guests on a journey through American stories and history. The park will feature sensational rides and uplifting and heartwarming shows as they explore the park’s six American lands.
MEG utilized a team of Six Flags and Universal Studios design firm staff and over 20 Disney Park’s builders and Walt Disney Imagineers to create American Heartland’s themes. The park will create a predicted 4,000 jobs. There are not that many homes available in or near Vinita, Oklahoma, with a 2021 population of just over 5,000. The following descriptions are from MEG American Heartland (AH) webpages.
AH defines Electropolis as, “A bright, bold vision of the American age of innovation. Rising like palaces from the greatest World’s Fairs, the towers and structures of Electropolis stand for high voltage stories and high-powered thrills. The inventions of great American figures carry you swiftly and smoothly throughout this sparkling testament to the power of American genius…This land will intrigue guest with teasers around every corner and a peak into the future.”
Liberty Village & Stony Point Harbor
At Liberty Village, AH reports that visitors can, “Walk the streets of this charming American town, where friendly shopkeepers are always glad to see you, and hard-working residents welcome you into their bustling daily life. In every corner of Liberty Village, the warmth and entrepreneurial spirit of classic small-town America shines through.”
AH invites guests in Stony Point Harbor to, “Cast off for daring exploits in this timeless coastal town, where feisty “old salts” tell tales of wild adventures at sea. Plunge into the abyss in search of a legendary sea monster. Set sail on a scenic excursion. And enjoy fresh seafood and hand-pulled saltwater taffy, as you work up the courage to explore the mysteries of the haunted lighthouse.”
Big Timber Falls & More
AH showcases Big Timber Falls as, “The mist-shrouded forests of the Northwest promise a rugged American adventure full of rushing rivers, soaring peaks and ancient legends. Dare to explore white water flumes with brave mystery hunters, and marvel at the aerial feats of the forest’s masters of the skies. All throughout this bold land, you’ll find bravery, brawn and inspiration.”
At Bayou Bay, AH features the land and culture of the Southeastern U.S. that is Louisiana and Mississippi and beacons guests with, “Welcome to the languid waters of Bayou Bay, a swampy hideaway where you can find mystery, magic, and some of the cutest critters this side of the Mississippi. Wander in for home-cooked gumbo, enjoy some boot-stomping Zydeco music, or get a taste for adventure on the gator-filled waters of the bayou.”
At AH’s Great Plains, visitors can, “Experience the heart of the heartland, where big land and big skies invite the spirit to soar. Native American traditions and stories, an enchanting Charlotte’s Web barnyard adventure, and high-flying thrills with one of the great American barnstormers add up to heartfelt fun and discoveries for the whole family.”
But that is not all there is to American Heartland. The Three Ponies RV Park is slated for an estimated 700 RV sites and 300 rental cabins on 325 acres. AH will offer a 300-room hotel. Plans for a modern indoor water park are underway. The Three Ponies RV Park will open first in 2025. The theme park will open in 2026.
American Heartland’s Economic Impact
According to businesswire.com, “The 1,000-acre resort destination is expected to attract over 4.9 million guests per year to Oklahoma.” Visitors are expected from around the world. American Heartland will attract new business to the Vinita area and the Grand Lake Region. At this time, we do not know how many of the predicted 4,000 jobs will be professional positions, minimum wage jobs, or jobs that pay better than minimum wage.