Sunday, February 10, 2008

Magic World Brochure

(Updated 4-23-2012)

This 1979 brochure for the now defunct Magic World in Pigeon Forge Tennessee was not your typical tri-fold affair. Nope they spent some serious moola on this, and made it a 14 page booklet spectacular.

First, a very big thanks to everyone who has commented on this post so far. I never visited Magic World, but if anyone reading this has, please continue to leave a comment.  This post has became a Magic World internet hot spot, so if you're here because you're a Magic World fan you may wish to read the comments from other Magic World fans.

In fact, one of those comments was from Sonny Thrower.  Sonny was Magic World's General Manager from 1979 until it's close in 1996.  Sonny was much more than your typical GM, he was also a creative talent who worked on designing the attractions.  I've asked Sonny a few questions about Magic World's attractions, and was surprised to learn that many of the attraction were done in-house! 

Here's Magic World's "Land of Arabian Nights" with its Magic Carpet Ride pictured prominently. To me this ride looks like it wants to be Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean crossed with Peter Pan's Flight.

Here's what Anonymous had to say about the ride:
I visited Magic World once back in the mid 80's. The Magic Carpet Ride did suspend the ride vehicles from the ceiling like on Peter Pan, but you weren't that far off the ground. It was kind of like Peter Pan meets Pirates, but with an Arabian Nights theme. I remember the animatronics were seriously creepy. Their mouths would open and close but they didn't say anything and there was this freaky "woosh" wind blowing sound through the whole ride. It gave me serious heebie jeebies.
And here's Sonny Thrower's explanation of the flying effect:
"The Magic Carpet Ride" cars were suspended from a rail in the ceiling, with the scenes  getting smaller as the Carpet "flew" through the air (giving the illusion that the Carpet was going higher and higher).... Here again, all of this was done in-house. With Barbie dolls and Ken dolls toward the end!!!
I have no idea what's going on in the pictured show scene. I think it might be an interpretation of the Pirates of the Caribbean's "wench auction" scene without Marc Davis's clear staging, and a creepy edge. Check out the scary faces on those figures (especially the face of the woman who's being carried - it's the stuff of nightmares), and notice how the hands are not grasping the rope either. I'm assuming due to budget constraints they could only afford one style of hands.

The shot of the ride vehicle suggests the vehicles travel suspended high over the show scenes, but the shot is faked. This was a time before Photoshop, and if you look closely you can see cut marks at the bottom of the vehicle. Another clue is the same shot of the people in the vehicle is on the cover of the brochure, and in that photo it looks like the vehicle is only three inches off the ground.

Next is the Haunted Castle... I wish I could have ridden this, and in a way it feels like I have. Out of the four images on this page, only the executioner with the ax doesn't look like it came out of Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction. The largest picture shows a spooky organist (with a plastic looking hat) who looks very much like the phantom organist from the ballroom scene in the Haunted Mansion.

But it's the center picture of the coffin that wins the prize for looking most like Disney's Haunted Mansion. This scene is such a near perfect copy of the conservatory scene in the Haunted Mansion.

Now here's Jared's memory of the ride:

As I recall, the Haunted Castle was almost a beat for beat copy of Disney's Haunted Mansion. There was even a preshow area where you were gathered together in a room and menaced by a creature up in the rafters.
 And here's Sonny again:
The "Haunted Castle Ride" was completely done in-house, from the characters (made of chicken wire, cloth, hand carved stryofoam heads), to the recorded sound effects.   Some of the scenes were based on Disney's "Haunted Mansion"...
The "train" mechanism was actually a car used in factories which followed an electric wire embedded in the floor of the ride. It pulled 4 or 5 wooden carts for people to sit in. As the "Train" passed a group of scenes, there was a tripping bar that would activate and de-activate each set of scenes. Again ALL of this was done in-house.... Even the building itself....wood, foam and gunite!!
Merlin's Magic show featuring a costumed cartoon character with human hands. Moving along now...

Cartoon map overview of the park. Not a whole lot to do in 1979. If you click here, I found a 1991 cartoon map of Magic World which shows how they added a lot more amusement park style rides .

The Flying Saucer is another Disney-ish style attraction. Circle-Vision theater at the Disney parks featured 360 degree movies. Here it looks like they have a 180 degree theater. The fact the inside the theater picture is an artists rendering, and not a photograph makes me suspicious about what the actual attraction looked like.

Here's another of Jared's childhood memories :

I have fuzzy memories of the Flying Saucer attraction. Of course as a youngster I totally believed that we were flying around the Smokies in that crappy plastic and plaster disc! I also recall that it was surrounded by astro-turf. Weird the things that you'll remember.
I'm sure the Confederate Critter Show wanted to be like the Country Bears Jamboree, but probably ended up more like a Chuck E. Cheese show. Actually the figures here look like they came from a Showbiz Pizza (anyone remember those?), and according to an anonymous commenter they were manufactured by the same company who made the Showbiz Pizza characters - which is Creative Engineering, Inc. founded by Aaron Fechter.

Here's Sonny with more info on the creation of the show:

There was an international convention for amusement parks every year. One particular year (probably 1977) there was one guy at a table with an "animated" bear head. It was indeed Arron Fechter.  It was the FIRST of its type outside Disney. MAGIC WORLD bought it and created "THE CONFEDERATE CRITTER SHOW" with one bear, and the soundtrack recorded for a live person (a Yankee!! LOL) to interact with the bear.  Eventually, a Fox and a Hound dog were added to our show long before the pizza places.

These last pages of the brochure just throws a bunch of odds and ends at you. See our fiberglass dinos, see our fiberglass mountain, have your picture taken with our no-brand walk-around characters, eat our ice cream, buy stuff at our gift shop, etc...

Well this concludes my tour of the Magic World brochure. Magic World went out of business in 1996. I had a suspicion Magic World had been struggling for many years, and the growing popularity of nearby Dollywood was probably the final nail in the coffin for Magic World.  But according to Sonny this was not the case, it was because Magic World's 20 year lease was not renewed.  Why wasn't it  renewed you may ask? Here's Sonny with the sad story...

When MAGIC WORLD opened in 1976, there was very little in Pigeon Forge except fields and fields of corn, "Rebel Railroad", "Hillbilly Village" (which was mainly a big souvenir store and some Hillbilly artifacts).  So basically it was a huge empty area on the way from Knoxville to Gatlinburg. Property value at that time in Pigeon Forge was very cheap. The original lease was for $60,000.00 a year for 11 acres!!!

Well Pigeon Forge continued to grow and grow (with Rebel Railroad turning into Goldrush Junction, which turned into Silver Dollar City and eventually Dollywood.) We built the first Mini-Golf course in town, and with it's obvious success and MAGIC WORLD'S continued growth, naturally, property values sky rocketed.

When the "time" started to roll around to renew the lease, we knew the property would be high. I think our first offer was $350,000.00, but the land owner counter offered with a higher figure, which we accepted. BUT every time we would accept his offer, he would raise it again. The value of 11 acres (with FRONTAGE on the parkway) was pretty much out of our reach at any price. The owner's plan was to sub-divide the property into sections and have multiple lessee's. (There was a rumour for a while that SIX FLAGS was negotiating) I continued to re-work our operating costs and could still make it work at $650,000.00. But the reality was that no matter what we offered, he had his mind set on sub-dividing the property, so we stopped our offer at $650,000.00 hoping at the last minute, he would accept it. Likewise, he was assuming that we would raise it to One million at the last minute. (A restaurant down the road had made a deal for one million, and all of the land owners in Pigeon Forge got dollar signs in their eyes!)

Well, the deadline finally came.  With each of us thinking that some deal would be made since there had been no "hard" offers on the land, and (to both our surprise) deal was made......the lease was up. We closed.

One thing is for sure, from the comments I've been getting people who visited Magic World developed a strong emotional connection to the park.

Here's what Magic Butterfly had say:
When it closed, I cried. Gone was my fantasy park and my childhood.
I'm sorry I never got to see Magic World in person. I'm sure I would have loved it as a kid.

Please continue to leave comments folks. I love reading them.


Anonymous said...

I used to go there every summer as a child with my grandparents. We stayed a a hotel right next to this place and we would go there on our first night in town and every evening for that matter (we loved it so much that my grandma would buy season passes because it cost less than daily admission). Now that I have a daughter of my own, I wanted to take her to Pigeon Forge and almost cried when my grandmother told me Magic World had closed. It was a great time for me and my four brothers and sisters. I am sure it had struggled for many years because all through the 80's and early 90's, whenever we would go, it almost felt like a private party for those staying in our hotel.

Anonymous said...

Those characters from the Confederate Critter show WERE made by the same company that made the Show Biz Pizza characters!

I visited Magic World once back in the mid 80's. The Magic Carpet Ride did suspend the ride vehicles from the ceiling like on Peter Pan, but you weren't that far off the ground. It was kind of like Peter Pan meets Pirates, but with an Arabian Nights theme. I remember the animatronics were seriously creepy. Their mouths would open and close but they didn't say anything and there was this freaky "woosh" wind blowing sound through the whole ride. It gave me serious heebie jeebies.

Jared said...

I too visited Magic World as a youngster. Seeing that brochure brought back many memories. You are correct in that it was essentially a poor man's Disney World, but to a 5-year old kid who lived in nearby Knoxville, Magic World was tough to beat. I have scoured the internet for pictures and video of Magic World, and this blog is by far one of the most interesting Magic World pages I have come across. As I recall, the Haunted Castle was almost a beat for beat copy of Disney's Haunted Mansion. There was even a preshow area where you were gathered together in a room and menaced by a creature up in the rafters. And yes, the Magic Carpet Ride owed much to Pirates. It's amazing seeing the pics in that brochure to see just how cheap everything looked. And I have fuzzy memories of the Flying Saucer attraction. Of course as a youngster I totally believed that we were flying around the Smokies in that crappy plastic and plaster disc! I also recall that it was surrounded by astro-turf. Weird the things that you'll remember. Great site! I enjoyed looking around.

Magic Butterfly said...

I practically grew up in Magic World, so to speak. Every summer my family would go there, and the first time I went there it was nothing but a Dinosuar Park and they had a few fish you could view in underground tunnels. Then they expanded, and they did very well until Dollywood opened. I loved this park...and so many things there just came and went as they tried to compete with the other attractions in Pigeon Forge. From the "Clyde the Camel" show to the water show, and the Musical abd the Comedy acts they had on their stage. Merlin Rainbow always fascinated me, but the Confederate Critters was always my favorite!
I watched the decline of this much-beloved park, to where before it closed, the animataed characters in the Haunted Castle was losing their fingers! When it closed, I cried. Gone was my fantasy park and my childhood. In its place are restraunts and a Mini-Golf which uses the Magic World waterfall as part of their set up. I have lots of memeories, and visit the park many times in my memeories.

Jarrad said...

I went there every year with my parents starting in about 1989 when I was 5. I have a lot of memories from there. I remember the Clyde the Camel show that Magic Butterfly was talking about. And all the dinosaurs. I was really disappointed when it shutdown. I need to get out the old home movies from there and watch them.

Rae said...

My family visited here around 1980-81. I remember the park entrance -- mainly because we'd driven by it so often -- and I remember a ride called the "Earth Auger." You sat inside a chamber that made it seem you were drilling deep into the earth. Magic World did a LOT of TV advertising in the region. Maybe we have home movies somewhere.

John said...

Terrific page, I posted a link to this page on my Magic World page on my website dedicated to defunct attractions of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge:
I loved Magic World, wish I had gone there in it's last years and taken more pictures as I loved it growing up in the mid 80's. If anyone has any home videos of it I would desperately love to buy a copy. contact me at

Troy said...

I too remember Magic World. It was a fun place to visit. I remember the flying saucer and earth auger the best. I can remember my grandmother enjoying Magic World too! Thanks for reviving long ago memories!

Adam M said...

Yea I remember it as well...I grew up South of Knoxville. Came across your page after having the thought of their old TV ads pop into my head today. Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

I loved Magic World. I remember going on field trips there each spring in elementary school. I loved the flying carpet, the flying saucer, and the dinosaurs.

I think someone should re-open magic world with todays technology, it would be awesome. Gear it towards young kids and the parents who went there as kids will take their kids or grandkids there.

Grant, the Hipster Dad said...

I must have gone to Magic World the year before they opened the Magic Carpet Ride. Perhaps that replaced the Earth Auger, which Rae above mentioned, and which I recall. Here's a picture of my kid brother and me from that trip, with two of the dinosaurs and the entrance to the Flying Saucer:

Katherine said...

Seeing this, and everything that everyone had to say, brought tears to my eyes. My father and grandfather built, owned, and ran Magic World. My grandfather was a major person in designing and building a lot of the dinosaurs and other attractions (including the magic carpet ride.) I was just in grade school when Magic World closed, and I am just nw starting to see how hard my father and grandfather worked both on making smart business decisions and creativly. They really were years ahead of everyone else. Thank you all so much for your kind words.

Maggie said...

i had a history of magic world growing up. of course we used to go there as children, but one year, i was with a modeling agency. they hired us to do a brochure spread and a tv comercial. this was when they had the "spider" and i can remember spending hours on that ride.

the last summer it was opened, i was a female assistant in the magic show. of course it was nothing like i had seen in years past, cut down to about a 15 minute show, but we had fun...and i even have video somewhere. lol! great memories, and thanks for sharing!

franklin said...

this is great...thanks maggie...i worked @ magic world for the last couple of years that it was open...sonny ed and bart. the last year i was the male assistant in the magic show..that place was the might not know but underneath the volcano, was a house..they just built right over the place. well i have to go do some paper work in dubbs office... ;e)

Anonymous said...

I went to Magic World in 1979 and it scared me in a good way. "Inside" the mountain was creepy. The props and sounds always seemed a bit off-beat. The walking characters and dinosaurs seemed so real to me as a kid. Funny how I only remember bits of my visit there but I've always had a fascination with Magic World. I was a bit upset when I went back to Pigeon Forge as an adult and in Magic World's place was the Professor hacker's mini-Golf. I've taken my kids to the mini golf and told them all about what I remember of Magic World. Thanks so much for this site!

Anonymous said...

I remember this park very well, This place was awesome, I loved visiting and was very sad when it closed. If I had enough money I would buy some land and bring it back, everything as it was originally done. I really miss Magic World. I would probably only build the Magic Carpet ride, and the Haunted Castle just because they were so Creepy. Still I wish I could find video footage of the MCR and The HC that would be cool to see again. The Scene before you enter the Haunted Castle Was to creatures that moved back and fourth in the rafters. The Magic Carpet ride was Creepier than the castle. Once I was riding it by myself and it shut down and stopped and I was pretty nervous, I was afraid the figures were going to come to life. Great place, scary but great!

Rex said...

Awesome, I was talking about places we used to go as kids with my mom and dad just today! I had this vision in my head of a magic carpet type attraction but couldn't remember where I had ridden it. Did some searching and came across your blog about Magic World. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane! I have fond memories of this park, especially of the carpet ride and haunted castle. I too would love to find video of these!

Anonymous said...

This was a terrible park. I went there once, half the rides didn't work...the magic carpet rides audio was in spanish, the plastic ball tank (Chucky Cheese style) was dirty, my mom wouldn't even let me in it. We rode one of the carnival rides and a girl got sick, terrible experience.

It's since been replaced by Professor Hacker's Mini Golf. I actually have a brochure from one of the last years of the park's existance.

Joshua said...

I visited Magic World in either the fall of 1992 or spring of 1993. I was in Second Grade, and we went as a field trip. To this day, I still don't know why, there wasn't anything educational about it, but it was fun. Above all, I remember how horribly shaky the whole net tower thing was. They let WAY too many kids on it, and to this day I'd swear to you that it was swaying back and forth. There were also Go Carts, of which I don't see on the newer map you have. I was to small to drive, however they were two seater go carts, and my mom drove me. When we came to a stop on kid seemingly intentionall rammed us in the back full speed. Gave me quite a headache for the rest of the day. The magic carpet ride was pretty cheesy, even for a second grader. It was one of those rides, you didn't get much higher, so much as the scenes got smaller. I was sad to hear it closed, although I didn't find out for years later.

Anonymous said...

Magic World was such a fun experience as a child. I loved it. i only had the chance to go there one time but it was truly a fun time for my whole family. I really wish that it had not have closed down because it was a neat little park. I guess Dollywood growing kind of didn't help them any..

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's a coincidence that the last year Magic World was open Dollywood's admission was $20, now it's about $55

Jonathon said...

My folks took me to Magic World several times. As a kid, I loved it, better than Gold Rush Junction - Silver Dollar City- Dollywood.

When I first went there in the mid 70's, it had the earth auger, but a couple of years later, probably by 79, it was gone.

Later on the built a pretty tall cargo-net climber for kids. I always liked the dragon train and the haunted castle. Giant furry spiders.

You can still see part of magic world, it's a mini-golf course, now. I haven't been, but I hear it's still owned by the family of the man who built the original park.

The UFO ride was kind of lame. It was interesting up until the soundtrack kicked in.. Styx's "Babe", and reality came back in.

Anonymous said...

thank you for posting this! i grew up in pigeon forge. my dad worked at magic world when it first opened, and i had a birthday party there! i loved it so much and have very fond memories of it.

katherine, maggie, franklin, anyone else... do you have any idea where to get a magic world tshirt? i have been looking for years (asking around town, ebay, etsy, everything!) and i desperately desperately want one!
please email me at jadiesingleton at gmail dot com if you can help! thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I remember Magic World from when I was a kid. It was never as busy as Silver Dollar City (now Dollywood), was less expensive, and wasn't such a large park that you'd be lost. The Jurassic Park sorta ride from the brochure became an antique car ride after a while, the cars being guided by the same rail. In later years, that became a go kart track. The space ship thing I never recall. There were some climbings nets put up, a tilt-a-whirl, Ferris wheel, even a small dragon coaster put in. Eventually yes, Dollywood did have the upper hand, offering local workers free admission, which helped nix turnout for Magic World. Several of my friends were employed there, one being my exhusband! It was sad to see it go, but the most upsetting part was seeing the vacant lot there with the volcano still monumentally standing there as a reminder even with the for sale sign in the parking lot. Thanks to a friend who had access to some pieces left behind in a warehouse. I have a skull from the haunted castle sitting on top of my TV, and have Dracula's cape and tophat. Last I heard, all that was left in the warehouse was a few fiberglass camels.

Karswell said...

I've been researching Magic World for a post of my own, awesome stuff and great comments too. See another (earlier) Magic World brochure at my new blog here:

Andrew Bryan said...

Man I'm glad I found this! Brings back so many memories for me. I went there all the time during the 80's. I can vividly remember Clyde the Camel (and how at the end all the kids got to go up and pet him) and the High-Dive show, and Merlin. Man I wish there were more pics of that place. I am actually sitting here humming the Magic World "Theme Song" in my head, "Take a walk in the sunshine...or a stroll in the's a Magic's a Magic World...can't remember all the words though. Wish it was still around and revamped so I could take my daughter.

Rachel said...

I LOVED Magic World I just started talking about it to all my friends on facebook! I spent everyday at Magic World I lived in the neighborhood behind the theme park ! Never was there a safer place to grow up! Imagine being able to play in a theme park everyday like like that one ! It definitely curved me as a person and made me who I am today I am an art teacher who works with children with a flare for the strange and a love for the smokies. Kissing tourist boys behind the waterfall and running away to never meet them again and meeting friends for a day from all over the world. Magic World makes my heart warm thinking about and everyone that got to go there if forever luckier!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you can get a broucher I collect them. It is also one of the parks I went to as a child with my grandparents.

David W. said...

I'm sorry Anonymous, but I cannot get you a "broucher."

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh! i cannot believe that people loved Magic World as much as i did. SOOOO many memories! i wish i still had the grape shaped cups that u could buy. Man! im 25 so i only knew the later years, but we wore that place out! the spider, the bumper boats, the dragon coaster, the antique cars, the slides, the go-carts, the haunted castle ride, the tilt-a-whirl, magic carpet ride, that giant "ant" thing you could crawl through! wow! i loved that place! what i wouldnt give to see pictures and video from it! at least we're lucky to have gotten to experience that place! thanks for your awesome website!

James said...

I had the privilidge of working at Magic World in the music show during the 1980's. I was first in the American Music Show and later in the 1950's show for 2 summers. Those three summers were terrific. What a joyful experience. I will treasure those memories forever.

Anonymous said...

I went to magic world a lot as a kid as well as other parks in the smokeys. Did magic world have the huge rope climb or was that ghost town in the sky that was in Maggie valley NC?

Hecate RavenMoon said...

I too basically grew up with the Magic World theme park. My parents took me there when it first opened, and the Flying Saucer was my favorite ride. I took my daughters there in 1990 and they loved it. It is a shame that it is shut down now. I would have loved to take my grandchildren there one day.

Brown Mule said...

I worked at magic world around 1987-1990. There were so many secret places. The broom closet behind the information booth made out of fake rock, it was fiberglass sprayed with cement. The first year I worked there I really just thought it was a closet, then one day someone showed me that it just kept on going. It continued into an underground tunnel with fishtanks in the walls, some long ago closed attraction ending in a barricade because it was too dangerous. On those really hot days you could go down there and take a break and it would be a cool. No lights though. After a few minutes your eyes would adjust and you could see a little. To this day I remember the coolness and the chills it would give me, creepy! If you explored the Magic carpet ride on foot you would discover things not visible from the ride. There was this huge face made from fiberglass. I was told it was "Dub". One of the maintenace guys. It was probably like 6 or 8 foot tall! I never knew for sure why/who/for what purpose that thing was built. If you walked around behind the haunted castle ride, or opened the emergency exit door in the haunted castle ride you could see a huge dinosaur scene from the shut down train ride I think. There was a suspended terradactyl and lake or pond scent I think and all sorts of dinosaours. The scene was the entire length of the haunted castle, it was right behind it but not accessible to the public. Underneath the volcano was a house. It still had the mailbox attached next to the front door. There was hidden access to get to it but it was very old and looked dangerous. I remember down in the pirate ship where the offices were there were boxes upon boxes of old brochures. Long outdated, they were neat to look at to see the old attractions that were no longer there. There was this cool picture on the wall of the high diving act divers. I had friends that worked nightwatch and went up there and hung out. You think that place was creepy during the day? At night that place scared the hell out of me. I would get the feeling that someone was watching me, following me, BOO!

Jared said...

A Google Maps search of Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Mini-Golf Pigeon Forge will give you excellent street views and satellite views of what remains of Magic World. The volcano and the pirate ship are still there and are very recognizable as being the same structures from Magic World. Everything else is dramatically changed though. A Hardee's now stands where the Haunted Castle once did. The satellite view of the park shows that the property has been bisected by a small parking lot, but there are still remains of concrete foundations towards the rear of the property, which I can only guess was once part of the Arabia section of the park. It would be interesting to see if the structures that Brown Mule describes above are still intact underneath the volcano and the pirate ship. I would love to have some kind of aerial picture of Magic World to compare with the satellite picture, but info on this extinct park is so scarce I don't even dare to hope that such a thing is floating around out there. Anyway, I encourage any past employees to take a look at the satellite and map views and tell us what was where way back in the day!

Jared said...

One other thing to add, Professor Hacker's appears to have a mini-train circling the golf course, but it seems unlikely that this is the same track used for the Dragon Train back in the 1970's and 1980's. Old park maps show the Dragon Train following a different course, but it's interesting that the golf course has a similar attraction.

Anonymous said...

My dad used to take my brother and sister and I to Magic World almost every summer in the late 70's and early 80's. He was a college professor in a small town about an hour and a half away and some of his students worked there. They got us in free! We LOVED the magic carpet ride and I still think about that ride today. It was super creepy, but I loved how cool it was inside on a hot day. It just smelled dry, like a desert. It started out with life-size characters, then as the ride progressed, the scenery became smaller and smaller, as if the riders were flying higher and higher. Of course, that was way back when the Middle East seemed far more "magical" than it did dangerous, like it does today. I remember the diving show. It was quite good--one of my favorite things at the park. I didn't see it in the brochure. Wonder when it was there? Looking at the brochure, I have to laugh because it seemed like we used to spend all day at this place. How on earth did we do that, at such a small park? Must have ridden the Magic Carpet ride a lot in one day!

Love looking at the brochure and photos. Thanks so much for posting. Helps me remember some wonderful times. I wish it were still around so I could take my daughter. Somehow, I feel like she is missing out.

Magic Butterfly said...

Andrew Bryan-

Let me see if I can remember..

"Ive got an old feeling,
I know it so well,
Im caught in a daydream,
Merlin Rainbows spell

Its hard to believe it,
but when its true,
Miracles happen,
and dreams come true

Its a Magic World,
oh its miracles will astound you,
its a Magic World,
take a moment to look all around you,
take a walk in the sunshine,
or a stroll in the rain,
Its a Magic World, if you believe"

I think thats as close as my brain will allow me to remember :)

How do I remember this? Because i was so fascinated with Magic World that I took a cassette player in with me when I was 14 years old, and captured the whole magic show and the Confederate Critter show on tape...thats why. I wish that tape still existed today

Donna said...

WOW!!! Where to start...I worked at Magic World too, at a couple of different periods in my life. I originally auditioned for the Magic Show in 1982. Didn't get it. So I started out in the Haunted Castle. Later moved to the Magic Carpet Ride, and in the fall finally made it into the Magic Show. I was there 2 or 3 seasons. Met my ex-husband there!!! He did the Flying Saucer (I was always a sucker for a man in a silver jumpsuit.)

I came back a few years later, the summer before I started graduate school in FL. I did the Ball Crawl and the Frogger (!).

"The World" as it was called, sometimes "Tragic World," really shaped my life in my teenage years and early 20's. I also assumed Dollywood killed it. But I was told that their lease came due and whereas once it was a few thousand $, the owners of the land wanted a million $ or something and the owners - the Sidwells - were not prepared to pay. So you could say that Dollywood did kill it in that it further commercialized the area and drove up land prices. If someone has different info, feel free to comment. But this is the story I remember from the Director of Operations.

I experienced so much drama, love, friendship in that place. I had stress dreams about the Magic Show for YEARS afterwards! I am an artist/musician and I mention it in my bio and people think it's totally cool that I was once a magician's assistant! Thanks for posting the brochure and for all the comments. Magic World was a special place.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I thought I was one of the few people left who could recall Magic World. I live just over the NC border and my Aunt took me there every summer from the late eighties to around 1992 or so. Now that I take my own kids to Pigeon Forge for vacations, every drive past that golf course and the Volcano I used to walk through fills me with nostalgia. I wish there were more photos of the park online.

Anonymous said...

i don't think that the volcano and ship that are there now are really the same as the ones in magic world when it was open. the exteriors yes. but they have moved it and its no longer accessible. i have heard anyway. but ya never know

Anonymous said...

Remember the commercial? I am trying to locate a copy of it. Could anyone help me out??

Anonymous said...

The same people still own the property. Professor Hacker's Golf has several locations with the franchise to keep it in operation, plus the ultra-low cost of operation helps in this economy. Sadly, even though the pirate ship and volcano are in relatively the same location as the originals, they are not the same. All left standing was part of the volcano until sometime around 2000, I believe. This was demolished and reconstructed (remember, it had sat in a vacant lot for at least 5 years with no maintenance, who knows how long before that?) just before Hacker's was opened. The pirate ship, now green and yellow unlike the original red and yellow, was constructed just about 3 or 4 years ago, and was made in a manner to allow a golf green to be played through.

I've spent a good portion of my evening looking up childhood memories as far as theme parks go, and it's depressing. Magic World is gone. The only thing of Silver Dollar City that remains is a bit of 'track' on Daredevil Falls and the Blazing Fury (which has taken out the water splash!). Opryland has been turned into a mall. My first coaster, Paramount King's Island's Top Gun, is now just a renamed, unthemed shadow of what it once was.

If you are lucky enough, and if it's not been taken away just yet, if you take a drive up Dolly Parton Parkway/Newport Highway in Sevierville, as you near where you'd turn Left to go to Smoky Mountain Deer Farm, look to your right. There will be an unmarked beige building with a fence around it, gravel lot in front. There were about 2 of the smaller dinosaurs and one larger near the thing and a few camels propped against the building. This is where everything was put into storage. It's not much, but it's a glimpse of what once was.

Anonymous said...

Oh man! Magic World! We vacationed in Pigeon Forge every year (several times a year) when I was a kid and Magic World was like my favorite place on earth. We rode the Dragon roller coaster SO MANY TIMES. My memories are fuzzy on the rest of the park, but I do remember the magic carpet area. They also had a high-dive show that literally amazed me as a kid. They sold juice in plastic reusable bottles shaped like various things...mine was purple and shaped like a bunch of grapes and my sister's was a pink animal of sorts...anyway, we kept them forever. The entryway was awesome and I swear I can still remember how it smelled....they also had these big (at least they seemed big at the time) slides and a rope playground that scared me to death as a kid. Man, I have wonderful memories of this place! LOVE the brochure!

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to find this site...I went there as a child in the earlry 90's and when I took my children in 2009 I was so sad to find out that it wasnt there, I had so much fun there we went like 4 days in a row and I loved the magic carpet ride, we had way more fun there than we did at silver dollar city, it was quaint and you werent rushed and werent overcrowded. It was a wonderful place and anyone who worked there should feel privileged that we all have such wonderful memories and I wish that I could take my kids there.

Anonymous said...



Sonny Thrower said...

1979-(CLOSE) 1996

As GM I had my hand in every aspect of the park. From operations to entertainment production to marketing to research and development.....everything.

I was there for 17 years ad gave my heart and soul to "my" world (even though I didn't own it.

I can answer just about any question anyone would like to know about MAGIC WORLD.

I still miss it and dream of it often.


VLTampa said...

I went to Magic World only once as a child. I remember the Haunted Castle and having been to Disney World, comparing it to The Haunted Mansion and how similar the rides were. I remember being "nervious" about the Augur ride, that I might get sick on it (I didn't). My mom thought it would make a good picture for me to put my head through one of the holes in the spaceship. I tried and ended up hitting my head really hard! I had a lump and a headache the rest of the day. In the photo shop were different scenes where you could take pictures. I had mine made in the hands of King Kong. The other picture I can remember taking was of my grandpa, with his arm in the mouth of a dinosaur and him pretending to be yelling in pain. I wished I had gotten to go there again. It was a fun park.

Ebeth said...

We lived in Maryville for a time and going to Magic World for us was HUGE! I was very young and don't remember a whole lot. I loved the magic carpet ride, somewhere there was a giant furry spider - I don't remember which ride but I was scared that it was real and hide behind my sisters from it!

Wish it were still there! What a wonderful cheesy place!

Crystal said...

My parents took my brother and I to Magic World every summer when we were kids. We always went in the afternoon because my bargain conscious parents wanted to get the "Next Day Free" special you got when you went in after 4. I remember going through tunnels or walls of some kind to get into the park. It seemed so mysterious at the time. My favorite ride was The Magic Carpet ride. I remember there was a man with a knife to a guy's throat, and he said something like, "Your mother looks like a camel." I loved that part, and I can remember looking at my dad and smiling when we went through that part of the ride. I also loved to ride the bumper boats because, unlike other places in Pigeon Forge, you could ride again and again. Mom, Dad, my brother, and I would ride the bumper boats until we were soaking wet! I loved the Spider ride, the Tilt-a-whirl, and the Scrambler. I was terrified of the rope net thing. There were beach balls bouncing all over, and I never made it very far because I was and still am afraid of heights. My brother; however, showed me up by climbing all the way to the top. I remember watching my parents through the net openings and being mad that my brother wasn't afraid. My parents had just gotten their first video camera when we first started going, and I remember them videoing us at Magic World and Ogle's Water Park . I'll have to try to look for the video casettes, which of course are unmarked and jumbled together at my parents' house.

I was so sad when Magic World and Ogle's Water Park closed. We went to both attractions every year, and I felt like I'd lost a part of my childhood once they were gone.

I'm always telling my husband and stepsons how much fun both parks were. I was talking to a man at Food City tonight (yes, I still come to Pigeon Forge over 25 years later). Anyway, he is from the area, and I mentioned Magic World. He said he used to go there just to ride The Magic Carpet ride! I couldn't believe it. It made me so happy because he is the only person, outside of my parents and brother, who I've ever talked to who actually knew what I was talking about. Hooray! I felt validated and vindicated at the same time as I told my husband, "See, I told you!"

At least the Magic World waterfall is still there in Pigeon Forge as part of the Archaeology Professor's Mini-Golf, I can't remember the actual name of the golf course, but many of the tunnels that you go through on the top of the course are part of the original Magic World.

Farewell Magic World. To a kid who never went to Disney World until she was in her late twenties, you were amazing and thrilling. Thanks for the memories.

Lisa H said...

Magic World...what can I say about this bygone era of a local amusement park?I can say alot,since I basically lived there!! My mother worked in the gift shop and this gave us free entrance to the park.

I was a mere 12 years old during this time(the early to mid 1980s)and spent the entire day there,at least on the weekends and when I wasnt in school.Id ride every ride multiple times and tried to keep these images in my mind because I knew this park wouldnt last forever!! Im extremely saddened by the closing.Pigeon Forge would never be the same without this fun place that I could escape to most of the time.

I remember pretty much everything about Magic World.My favorite areas of the park were the Magic Carpet ride area.This area had a couple of rides and a couple of shows.the shows were Merlins Magic Show and Clyde The Camel Show.At the time these shows were really neat and fun to watch.They wouldnt be so much fun nowadays but back in the 80s it was an enjoyable time had by thousands of visitors each year.

There was also an area that I was especially fond of and that was "Maze Craze" It was a sometimes dizzying and confusing maze that youd have to meander through to find youre way out.It only took me a few tries to figure out the correct path.I did cheat a little by crawling under the walls which were suspended or built up off the ground by about 1-2 feet!!

To this day I miss Magic World and the fun times I had there.I knew alot of people that worked there.I knew the guy that played Merlin a few times and I knew Sonny Thrower.I also knew a few of the guys that were on the "Great American High Dive Team" Yes,life in Pigeon Forge Tn during the 80s and early 90s was a whole different world than it is today.I enjoyed it so much more.I will be forever saddened that this place closed.But I guess it was an inevitability because once the chain names moved into the area all the locally owned places moved out.Its never been the same since.And not necessarily in a good way.

Well,I could go on and on about Magic World and all the memories I have but Ill end my comments here.Thanx for reading my comments.

Anonymous said...

I have very vague memories of Magic World but it left a lasting impression. I remember visiting this park with my mom when I was a kid probably around 1989. The Magic Carpet ride was awesome! I am so excited to find a website dedicated to the park as well as to read comments from other fans of the park. I thought I was the only one that remembered this forgotten gem.

Ken said...

Wow, My wife and I went there in the 70's, when the flying saucer was still there, and then in the early 80's we took my oldest son there. There was more to do later on than there was in the 70's. It was a very neat place. I thought I was the only one who looked up there where it had been and missed the place! And Jared, the foundations behind the park; if you look at the 1991 map, it looks like they are the remmants of the ice creme shop and teacup ride- yes, formerly the Arabian section, the little octagonal piece on the left of the building shows up, as well as the circle where the teacup ride was located. Cool getting to relive some good old memories!

Anonymous said...

Sonny, if you read this, THANK YOU! Magic World was my favorite place to go when I was young in the early 80s. I never grew tired of it. My last visit was right after the big net climb thing was installed toward the front. Thank you so much for these childhood memories. I still have a photo album with nothing but Magic World pics. My favorite is one with my head in the shark's mouth. I'm crying, scared to death, of course. Again, Thank You!
Scott in Kentucky

Jenny Enloe said...

Magic World was a staple of my youth. Growing up in Sever County, we didn't have much in the way of children's entertainment, unless you count rocks and sticks. My family and I went all the time, and no matter how tattered and worn it looked at the end, I only ever saw beauty. I cried when Magic World shut down and still believe it should b resurrected. we can always use a little more magic in the world.

Anonymous said...

The website mentioned in the comments section with old photos of Magic World is a long out of date link, it is now:

Magic Butterfly said...

I was wondering if anyone ever found where some of us could buy Magic World merchandise? I still have a mug from the park, but I wish I still had all of the goodies I bought from there through the years!

Anonymous said...

I used to love Magic World! The reason I even found this site was because I saw a Peter Pan commercial and it reminded me of the Magic carpet ride. As a child, I thought this ride was SO cool. Yes, it didn't really get any higher, but you felt like it did since everything got smaller. My mom would take me and my cousins a lot. I always remember it when I pass by where it was located. I do think the Space Ship looked a lot like the brochure... but my memory is foggy on the details. I think we have pictures of us with the dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Magic World for a couple of years in the early 70's as an artist. I was just out of college and it was a fun job. At first the Magic World volcano was built on the bones of an older attraction, some sort of zoo,and was mainly narrow concrete paths arched over with chicken wire and cheesecloth sprayed with styrofoam and a thin layer of concrete. The tunnels led past poorly made replicas of cavemen and borrowed heavily from the Flintstones.
Jim, the owner/creator, had a talent for sculpting dinosaurs out of styrofoam and fiberglass. He built the large dinos that stood in front of the park as well as the ones at Jolly Golf in Gatlinburg.
There was an aquarium that contained some large freshwater fist caught locally. The catfish weighed 45 pounds and some of the carp were nearly as large.
While I was there I was sent, along with a co-worker David, to Disney World so we could see how the haunted house effects were done. Most people thought that Disney used holograms but instead it is done with reflections and projected films. We returned and built the haunted castle, but on a budget of thousands instead of millions. Jim hired Ralph, a sculptor from Disney World, to show us how to carve skeletons and gargoyles. I stood on ladders to carve the stonework on the outside of the castle walls.
We also built the Dragon Train which was put together by some very capable local fellows. The cars were cast fiberglass that were pulled by a jeep which had been disguised with a Buck Rogers looking shell. The train went through Dinosaur Canyon with rubber dinosaurs on wires that moved in simple ways.
We also built the Flying Saucer, a round theater that had five screen across the front. A film had been made by flying over the Smokies in a helicoptor with five cameras rigged beneath it. The editing could have been better because at times the scene would tilt as the helicoptor turned but the angle on the screens would not remain synchronized. Also, people always laughed when they saw the shadow of the chopper.
We built things during the off season but when summer came along I had to sometimes wear a silver lame spacesuit and pilot the Flying Saucer or put on a Safari outfit to drive the Dragon Train.

Anonymous said...

I used to be taken to Magic World in the late 70's, I have my picture at 13 with my best friend at the Magic Carpet ride, which I rode several times and it was fantastic! Always loved the haunted ride too, and when I went to DisneyWorld years later, I was so unimpressed, I had seen it all before at Magic World! I have my picture with the wooly mammoth, and I remember the earth auger, the spaceship, and the critters, they got off track once and started to close the doors while still singing, and big fish in a Coi pond, and when you went in, there was a caveman exhibit, and if you looked through one hole in the rocks, a caveman popped his head up right in your face, scared me to death, as my Mom laughed.
I thought that place was the greatest place ever, and I too was very sad to see it gone. I once played the mini golf there and a couple of the miners at one hole were from the Magic Carpet ride, redressed. So sad to know its gone, I loved that place, we live in western NC.

Jason from Elizabethton said...

I have lots of memories at Magic World. I remember being about 7 years old and Magic World seemed absolutely HUGE! My favorite was Volcano Mountain. I really loved walking around exploring and hiding in it. Pigeon Forge was really neat back then. Great nostalgia there!

Invaderson said...

This time of the year was always "bitter sweet" for me, as the park closed for the season,I would reflect on the past season and the
'MAGIC" that we shared with so many people.......and all the employees who worked so hard to make it all come to life..Now I would change hats and start focusing on what new and wonderful things we could create for the next season. It was the end of our fiscal year, so I had tones of paperwork to do..My design desk would be piled with designs. It was all sooo quiet........I dreamed of it all again just the other night!!

Invaderson said...

This time of the year was always "bitter sweet" for me, as the park closed for the season,I would reflect on the past season and the
'MAGIC" that we shared with so many people.......and all the employees who worked so hard to make it all come to life..Now I would change hats and start focusing on what new and wonderful things we could create for the next season. It was the end of our fiscal year, so I had tones of paperwork to do..My design desk would be piled with designs. It was all sooo quiet........I dreamed of it all again just the other night!!

Mac said...

Im sure magic world was around long before 1976. I graduated high school in 1976 and have home movies made in the late 60s or early 70s of one of our many vacation visits and remember it well

Mac said...

So that musta been you thst kissed me n ran

T. Gorbach said...

I visited Magic World many times as a kid from the early 1970's to about 1980. I loved it ! and always insisted on going to it when we visited Pigeon Forge. However, my parents weren't impressed and thought it was too expensive (over the years they eventually sent my sister and me in and waited outside). It's hard to remember specifically how the park was laid out when I visited, but it seems to me that you entered through a pirate boat in a lagoon (with life-size dinosaurs standing in the background!) and moved up into a large volcano facade which had a waterfall pouring out near the top of it. If I remember correctly, just before exiting the interior of the volcano you passed a rather large aquarium with fresh-water fish in it. You exited the volcano into a open area which also contained numerous dinosaurs. From what I remember, originally the whole park revolved around dinosaurs and cavemen, with a prehistoric train ride as the centerpiece, but by the late 1970's they had added a number of Disney-like rides including a rather cheap version of the Haunted Mansion (you could tell it was heavily influenced by Disney – although the special effects were'nt as good), a 180 degree I-max like flying saucer ride (which was actually pretty good, with the saucer flying over the Smokey Mountains in autumn), and an Ali-Baba Magic Carpet Ride (which was something like a crude version of Disney's Peter Pan Ride). For the life of me I can't remember if the globe was a ride or not, but I do remember that it was added at about the same time as the other upgrades. I also remember the Earth Auger Ride made me nauseous – this shouldn't surprise anyone since it was essentially a carriage that moved its passengers into a spinning rock-covered cylinder. The effect was that of a spinning tunnel and was meant to create the illusion of boring through the earth. I haven't been to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge since the early 1990's but it seems to me that Magic World was still there, although it had changed substantially (I see on this blog that it closed a few years later). I didn't go in, but it appeared that they eliminated many or the original rides and replaced them with what looked like generic carnival rides. Unfortunately all my photos of Magic World were taken with a cheap Kodak Instamatic camera (a large block-like camera that printed out a developed picture just after you took the photo) and they've faded completely out.
PS -- Somewhere in my storage I have a Magic World pamphlet shortly after it was built in the (I guess) late 1960s (the pamphlet shown here is from the mid or late 1970's I think). If I ever find it I'll upload it.
PPS – As a child I was so impressed with Magic World that I attempted to build a miniature version in my yard (we lived on a farm with a lot of land). Unfortunately I never completed it ,although I did have a room full of 2 foot tall paper mache dinosaurs I planned to populate it with!!

David W. said...

Wow great post T. Gorbach! Thanks for sharing your lengthy memories of Magic World.

Daniel Gabai said...

Wow! I was searching the internet trying to remember the name of this place. We lived in Asheville NC and visited Pigeon Forge many times over the years. I remember begging my parents to take me there everytime. The place looked so cool from the outside up on that hill above the main road. Finally my folks caved and took my sister and I probably in the late 80s. I was disappointed because we were the only ones there. I barely remember the Arabian thing and the flying saucer thing. I think a lot of the attractions were closed. Anyway...thanks for your blog or I would still be going mad trying to remember the name :)


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