Discoveryland

41
City/Town: Sand Springs
Location Class: Theater
Year Built: 1976
Year Abandoned: 2014
Status: GuttedUnder Renovation Private Property
Photojournalist: Billy DixonJohnny FletcherEmily Cowan

Since 1976,  the Discoveryland amphitheater has brought family fun and musicals to Sand Springs and the surrounding area. Most popularly known for its showing of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!”. Construction was underway in the area of “Coyote Trails” with architect Frank Wallace, contractors F&D Construction Co., and developer World Changer Inc. After completion, it would feature seating for 2,000, parking for 800, and a “trading post” where one could buy tickets, knick-knacks, concession stand, and camping area.

Ad from 1977

The debut musical was Dust on Her Petticoats with a cast of around 80 and a crew of 45. In addition, it was the first production in the area to feature womanhood while having a woman director. More popularly known, was its production of Oklahoma! The success was what put Discoverland on the map, so much so that they were awarded the 1979 Governor’s Tourism Award. It was because of the success that in June of 1980, the musical found its way back home from Broadway to Discoveryland. It was proclaimed home of the “Oklahoma!” production. “Naturally, we’re delighted and honored that Rodgers and Hammerstein have paid Discoveryland the tribute. But equally important to us is the fact the show will now be presented in its “home” state on an ongoing basis,” Bill Jeffers, General Manager of Discoverland said. The seasons lasted 13-weeks from June-August, for dinner and a show it would run you about $10 per adult making it the ideal spot for a whole summer full of family entertainment.

Troubles

Taken in 1993 by Jim Argo

In 1987, Discoveryland hit some bumps in the road when the IRS seized the property threatening to sell it at auction unless the owners paid the more than $173,000 they owed in back taxes. World Changers Inc., the owners of the property, paid the amount shortly after causing the auction date set for the amphitheater to be canceled. They also owned the state more than $130,000 and over $30,000 in penalties and interest from a suit filed in February for withholding tax. Shortly after all the money troubles began, in 1992, the owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect creditors from closing the production.

Closing/New Life

DiscoveryLand came to an end in the summer of 2011 unknowingly. Owners at the time said record heat and money were to blame. It would stay closed for two more summers after that before announcing official closure in 2014. The amphitheater held the production of Oklahoma! there every summer for 34 years, making memories for hundreds of thousands of people.

Rendering provided by Discoveryland Range and Resort

In 2018, a $20 million dollar membership-only “Discoveryland Range and Resort” were attempted at the Discoveryland grounds quickly becoming a failed endeavor. But then Jason & Kayla Shipman bought the property in 2019 for $1.7 million dollars in hopes of making the 525 acres their dream property. A vision for a wedding venue, events center, as well as build their family ranch on the property.

Article by AOK Photojournalist Emily Cowan.

Gallery Below




Bibliography
“14 JUL 1980, 1 – Sapulpa daily herald at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/662121851/?terms=discoveryland.
“18 Nov 1987, 3 – Sapulpa daily herald at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/662121757/?terms=discoveryland.
“20 JUL 1992, 1 – Sapulpa daily herald at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/662245229/?terms=discoveryland.
“20 May 2018, 19 – the Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/452687079/?terms=discoveryland.
“31 JUL 1977, 165 – the Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/451613028/?terms=discoveryland.
“31 JUL 1988, 11 – Sapulpa daily herald at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/662214352/?terms=discoveryland.
“6 Jun 1976, 7 – Sapulpa daily herald at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/661838181/?terms=discoveryland.
“7 Jun 1980, 24 – the Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/452470209/?terms=discoveryland.
Jeffers, B. “Discoveryland in sand springs closed permanently.” KOKI, 31 July 2014, www.fox23.com/news/discoveryland-sand-springs-closed-permanently/109231533/.
Argo, Jim. Discoveryland, photograph, July 1993; (https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc1641587/: accessed July 10, 2020), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, https://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.
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Jamie Covey
Jamie Covey
12 days ago

So sad to see it gone! Always loved going to Discoveryland

Jennifer Newton
Jennifer Newton
12 days ago

We went several times during my childhood. I absolutely LOVED it. Wish they could revive it again

Sara Hembree
Sara Hembree
12 days ago

I remember going there with my grandma when i was little i always loved it

Maggie Shiroma
Maggie Shiroma
12 days ago

What a great place that was!!!! And the musicals were such quality performances!

Arron Comer
Arron Comer
12 days ago

I grew up not far from here and attended each summer. This makes me so sad.

Adrienne Baehler
Adrienne Baehler
12 days ago

Went several times as a kid. Big open BBQ dinner where you’d meet new people and kids could play while adults talked. Then the show kept all ages enthralled!

Debbie Johnson
Debbie Johnson
12 days ago

They put on alot of wonderful show. Lots of great talent.

Becky Dismuke
Becky Dismuke
12 days ago

I worked there during a summer and my mom worked in the ticket booth for several summers

Alyssa Dougan
Alyssa Dougan
12 days ago

Sooo sad that this closed! Loved seeing Oklahoma! and also Seven Brides for Seven Brothers there. What a gem lost.

Loret Holland
Loret Holland
12 days ago

This was a great venue for a night out. The dinner was fabulous! And the production never disappointed. Someone please reopen this gem in green country!!!

Wendy Slavin
Wendy Slavin
12 days ago

I miss going there during the summer. Now my granddaughters are old enought to enjoy the play, its so sad its not there anymore. I hope someone will revive Discoveryland with all the fringe and horse

Beverly Killebrew
Beverly Killebrew
12 days ago

Im so sad this sint around anymore for our grandkids to enjoy. We LOVED going to see the shows there.

benny baker
benny baker
12 days ago

brion and jennifer owned it be for shipmans. i used to go over there every day and ride my 4 wheeler and help steve over there

Lisa riggs
Lisa riggs
12 days ago

I was an usherette the first season it opened. I was 15. Enthralled by the behind the scene production. Loved it!

Catherine Lacky
Catherine Lacky
12 days ago

My dad made us go and as a teen, I’d have rather cut off my pinky finger than go here. I didn’t realize the seating capacity, pretty cool!

Camillia
Camillia
12 days ago

I saw 7 Brides for 7 Brothers there

Brenda Imel
Brenda Imel
Reply to  Camillia
12 days ago

I took my son to see that there. He loved that play/movie.

John t
John t
12 days ago

So many good memories. We went every year and lived around the corner on 209 W. Avenue. -former part of Tulsa Boys Home old ranch. Anyone remember that from early 70’s?

Crystal blue
Crystal blue
12 days ago

When I went there, they didn’t have seats like that.

Jayne C
Jayne C
Reply to  Crystal blue
12 days ago

I would have sworn they were orange

Crystal blue
Crystal blue
Reply to  Jayne C
12 days ago

I thought they were just wood planks.

Kelly C
Kelly C
12 days ago

I worked there for 2 summers in 2009 and 2010. All the trash left there is sad to see.

Donna
Donna
12 days ago

I only went once but I have great memories.

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