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.
5 4 votes
Article Rating
Liked it? Help AOK take action to save some of these places on Patreon! Donations will help fund clean ups, securing of buildings and hopeful restorations as we work with the owners who want to bring them back to life.
Share.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
41 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Athena Reich
Athena Reich
6 days ago

Anyone remember Camp Cute and Spooky? Such a fun time for Halloween on this property with my “city kids” A magical forest, campfire, smores, horses, and pumpkin painting! I also remember going to the plays every year! Please restore this for future generations!!

Richard
Richard
8 days ago

When I was in 7th grade, my junior high school spring play was Oklahoma. I played the character Will Parker. That summer, my parents took me to Discoveryland to watch their production of Oklahoma. After the show, we were allowed to come on stage and meet the performers. I immediately found the actor that played Will Parker. I’m 53 now. That’s something I will remember forever.

James Reed
James Reed
10 days ago

My mom worked there for so many years. She loved it! She passed in 2012 and it’s like a part of this place passed with her.

Tena Trotter
11 days ago

Worked at Discoveryland for a few summers. Some early mornings and sometimes into the wee hours of the night. Always great fun and always unexpected adventures. Robberies and overnight camping. Horse wrangling and wildlife management. Lots of BBQ and strawberries with ice cream. Not to mention coworkers and visitors. These things combined made for a lifetime of memories and unending stories.

Helen Jennings
Helen Jennings
11 days ago

Our daughter performed here for six years. We enjoyed every performance. It was a wonderful event with something for the whole family!
It was sad when it closed.

John D. McCracken
John D. McCracken
12 days ago

I performed there a few times. They always failed to pay us so we stopped coming.

Pansy Pritchett
Pansy Pritchett
12 days ago

I actually live by this. We use to be able to hear the plays in our back yard and our parents took us to their halloween event. Its sad what the new owner tried to do with it and I hope the new new owners can revive it

John Owens
John Owens
12 days ago

I helped build the place when I was a kid!

Terry Wright
Terry Wright
12 days ago

So sad to see this once-thriving venue now in ruins. My wife and I saw their production of Oklahoma! twice and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. We really enjoyed the dinner meal and pre-show entertainment and activities. As I remember it was really hot the last time we visited but their ice cream was a welcome relief if eaten before it melted! At least we still have our good memories of visiting this family oriented place!

David Conrad
David Conrad
12 days ago

Pretty sure one time i went there years ago and they were selling snake meat at the concessions. I liked that place it had character

Lori Sexton
Lori Sexton
12 days ago

Oh no! We went and saw Oklahoma! the musical there years ago. It was wonderful

Lea Ann Friend
Lea Ann Friend
12 days ago

Every summer dad wanted us to go finally one summer my family went we got there in our seats waiting for it to start and in came a huge storm we all had to leave and never got to go!

Beth Williams
Beth Williams
12 days ago

I wihs it had hung around long enough for me to take my kids! I loved going when I was a kid!

Sheri Borg
Sheri Borg
12 days ago

That place was so cool and had some decent bbq sandwhiches. It was such a great place to take friends and family from out of town. So bummed it shut down.

Leslie
Leslie
12 days ago

Loved this place!

Carla Barrett
Carla Barrett
12 days ago

I regret not visiting the place before it closed. It is in my town and intended to visit when I moved here but never got around to it. My vet and her husband purchased it. I am happy that a very nice family have got it, it will be interesting to see what they will do with the place. I did hear it was going to be turned into a working ranch.

Bridgette
Bridgette
12 days ago

LOVED Discoveryland!!

Helen Orcutt
Helen Orcutt
12 days ago

Ive seen Dust on Her Petticoats there several times!

Copyright 2008-2020 by AbandonedOK.com - info@AbandonedOK.com - Designed By Michael Schwarz - Disclaimer

41
0
Have history here? Would love hear your stories or your thoughts.x
()
x