What is Old Tucson?
Old Tucson is a well-known film set and Western-themed family theme park located just west of the Tucson Mountains, and just south of Saguaro National Park West and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It was constructed in 1939 as a film set, and was opened to the public as a theme park in 1960. Over the years, it was used as a location for hundreds of western movies and TV shows, and grew to be one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Arizona. A fire destroyed most of the original property in 1995, but it was rebuilt and continued operating as a theme park until 2020, when restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic forced its closure. The property has remained dormant ever since.
Scenes from the 1993 film Tombstone were filmed at Old Tucson, in addition to over 400 other productions. This still, from left to right, features Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, and Kurt Russell.
About the New Operator
In April of 2022, American Heritage Railways created the subsidiary Old Tucson Entertainment, and entered into an agreement with Pima County to operate the property. American Heritage Railways is based in Colorado, and operates the well-known Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado, as well as the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad in North Carolina. They also own and operate a scenic bus tour line, and a historic frontier hotel. American Heritage Railways also has significant experience hosting live, themed events, based on popular movies, as well as holidays and other special events; at their own railroads, as well as over 50 other scenic and excursion railroads. They have expressed a deep interest in preserving the heritage, character, and importance of Old Tucson; and are working closely with Pima County to do so.
Old Tucson will be reopening on Thursday, October 6th, 2022, with the park’s signature event, Nightfall, serving as the grand reopening. This fall, Old Tucson will be open Thursdays-Saturdays, and will be closed on Halloween. A Christmas-themed event is also planned after Nightfall. The park is planned to return to a regular operating schedule sometime in 2023, with similar entertainment offerings as before its closure. Old Tucson Entertainment has been working behind-the-scenes with Pima County to make upgrades, repairs, and refurbishments to the buildings and facilities in the park, in preparation for re-opening, and the eventual return of film production. Old Tucson Studios will be hiring 130 local actors and employees for special events, such as Nightfall. Stay tuned to Discover Marana for more updates on the reopening of Old Tucson!