Heritage Square Amusement Park in Golden, CO: Abandoned Victorian Dream

The Origins of Heritage Square and Magic Mountain

In the late 1950s, a group spearheaded by prominent Wheat Ridge businessman Walter Francis Cobb and Denver sculptor John Calvin Sutton set out to create a theme park in Golden, Colorado.

Inspired by the success of Disneyland, they hired Marco Engineering, Inc., led by original Disneyland vice president C. V. Wood Jr., to build Magic Mountain.

The team included several veteran Hollywood art directors who had previously worked at Disneyland, such as MGM veteran Wade B. Rubottom and Disney veteran Dick Kelsey.

The park’s original concept included a rainbow gateway guarded by giant genies, an enchanted forest, a Queen’s Castle towering atop the mountain, themed refreshment stands, and a monorail.

However, after encountering opposition from nearby residents, Cobb relocated the project to a new site at Apex Gulch southwest of Golden.

Magic Mountain’s Themed Areas and Attractions

Designed with Colorado’s history, development, and future in mind, Magic Mountain was intended to have six themed areas:

  • Fairgrounds
  • Cavalry Post and Stockade
  • Storybook Lane
  • Magic of Industry
  • Forest River
  • Centennial City

The park was also planned to feature a ski slope on Jackson Hill to its west.

Construction and Demise of Magic Mountain

Between 1957 and 1959, the core of Magic Mountain was built, including the Magic Mountain Railroad, Cavalry Post and Stockade, and Centennial City.

However, financial difficulties led to many plans being changed or scaled back.

After opening to the public in 1959, Magic Mountain faced continued financial difficulties and closed in 1960. Its rides were sold off to the newly forming Six Flags Over Texas.

Rebirth as Heritage Square

In 1970, the Woodmoor Corporation acquired Magic Mountain and resurrected the park as Heritage Square, a theme shopping village of artisan shops and attractions.

The newly reopened park 1971 featured several popular places, including the Metal Master, General Store, Glassblower, Gasthaus beer garden restaurant, and Cedar Chest.

In 1972, a group of comedy melodramatic players, led by G. William Oakley, took possession of the Magic Mountain Play House and formed the Heritage Square Players.

They opened the Heritage Square Opera House and later retrofitted a building for an auditorium theater.

Heritage Square also saw the construction of the second alpine slide outside a ski resort in North America on Jackson Hill in 1973.

Under actor T.J. Mullin’s direction, the Heritage Square Music Hall became one of the most popular dinner theater establishments in Colorado before closing in 2013.

Storybook Architecture

Heritage Square is known for being one of the world’s best-preserved examples of Storybook design, a unique and artistic form of architecture translating screen buildings to real life with whimsical distortions and forced perspectives.

The designers thoroughly studied and drew upon historic Colorado styles to create this friendly and creative atmosphere.

Ownership Changes and Closure

Over the years, Heritage Square’s ownership changed hands multiple times. After the 2015 season, the Alpine Slide and the Town closed, and the Amusement Park, including the Garden Grill, the Corporate Picnic Areas, and the Victorian Event Center, remained open until 2018.

The Amusement Park at Heritage Square

The Amusement Park at Heritage Square featured various kiddie rides, such as Himalaya, Ferris Wheel, Crazy Bus, Tea Cups, Python Pit Roller Coaster, Swings, Balloon Ride, Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl, Miner Mike Roller Coaster, Carousel, and Banana Squadron.

These attractions catered to families and young children, providing a fun and engaging atmosphere for visitors of all ages.

In addition to the rides, the Amusement Park at Heritage Square offered various entertainment options, such as live performances, interactive games, and seasonal events.

The park also included several dining options, from casual snack stands to sit-down restaurants, ensuring guests could enjoy a full day of fun and excitement without leaving the park.

One of the most iconic features of the Amusement Park at Heritage Square was the Miniature Train, which took visitors on a scenic tour through the beautifully landscaped grounds.

The train ride offered a relaxing break from the more thrilling attractions and allowed guests to appreciate the charm and whimsy of the park’s unique Storybook architecture.

Throughout the years, the Amusement Park at Heritage Square continued to evolve and expand, adding new attractions and amenities to keep visitors coming back.

Unfortunately 2018, the park was closed permanently due to financial difficulties and declining attendance.

Despite its closure, Heritage Square’s memory and enchanting Victorian theme hold a special place in the hearts of those who experienced its magic.

Legacy of Heritage Square

Today, the former site of Heritage Square serves as a reminder of the incredible vision and creativity that went into creating this one-of-a-kind theme park.

Although the park is no longer operational, the remaining buildings and structures continue to showcase the unique Storybook design that made Heritage Square a cherished destination for families throughout its years.

As a testament to the enduring impact of Heritage Square, the park has become a subject of interest among historians, architecture enthusiasts, and amusement park lovers.

Many hope that one day, the park’s enchanting spirit may be revived, allowing future generations to experience the magic of Heritage Square once again.

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