The future of the Ghost Town in the Sky theme park in Maggie Valley, North Carolina is once again being called into question, with a proposed takeover deal reported to have fallen through.
In May, a court approved a rescue bid for the bankrupt park from part-owner Al Harper, which would have seen his newly-formed American Heritage Family Park LLC pay $7 million to the park's creditors. However, the Smoky Mountain News reports that deal has come unstuck due to the failure of Harper to secure a loan from an offshore lender.
If the collapse of the deal is confirmed, Ghost Town in the Sky will remain bankrupt and could still face foreclosure proceedings from creditors. These would see the park sold off to the highest bidder, and assets (including the park's rides) offloaded to pay off as much of its estimated $12 million debts as possible.
Even if the deal can be revived, or an alternative buyer found, Ghost Town in the Sky will not reopen during 2010. As Theme Park Tourist reported last week, damage from a mudslide in February will prevent the park from reopening, with repair work yet to begin. Ghost Town's management are being blamed by some local residents for a delay to reconstruction work, after it favored a different plan to the one put forward by Maggie Valley authorities.
When the problems caused by the mudslide are fixed, Ghost Town in the Sky still faces further challenges before it can reopen. The park's incline railroad requires repairs, as does its headline attraction - the Cliffhanger rollercoaster. The chairlift that links the park to its car park also requires a safety inspection to check for faults.
The proposed takeover deal by Harper was a controversial one, as it would have seen the park walk away from nearly $5 million in debt - much of which is owed to local small businesses. Instead, Harper's company would have paid a total of $300,000 to small creditors, plus $105,000 to Haywood county in back taxes. The majority of the $7 million on offer would have gone to the park's largest creditor, Branch Banking & Trust.
Harper was one of the three owners who bought Ghost Town in the Sky in 2006, some 4 years after a previous bankruptcy forced its closure. However, the park plunged back into bankruptcy in November 2009, just two years after reopening.