Jackalope Junction StoryPark hopes to open in Williams, Ariz., with a Steampunk Western adventure theme and a message of courage and perseverance.
Jackalopes — those elusive antelope-horned jackrabbits rumored to inhabit the wilds of Wyoming — may be mythical, but they are a long-standing part of American Western legend and the basis for storytelling in a brand-new Steampunk-style theme park coming to Arizona in 2024.
Imagine an 1800s town straight out of a cowboy movie, with an abandoned gem mine that claimed 13 lives when it collapsed, though their bodies were never found. The town was restored by a wandering lawman, Jackalope Jim, but mysteries abound in this place where gem mining may not have been what it seemed.
With one cohesive theme running through the entire 10-12 acre park, adventure and excitement are around every corner, and the local characters are eager to get visitors to their town involved.
“There’s a certain element within the stories of the American Western genre as well as those of Jules Verne,” says Greg Shumsky, creator of Jackalope Junction and founder of its parent company, Acorn Entertainment Group. “Each touches on the innate human need for adventure and exploration into the unknown, and include true tales of perseverance, courage, sadness, loss, and victory despite all the odds against the heroes.”
Shumsky was inspired by movies based on the Old West, Jules Verne books, and iconic artworks he remembers from his childhood. “My dad had numerous Olaf Wieghorst paintings and some Remington sculptures, as well as what I’d consider him being somewhat of a cowboy himself; and I was equally intrigued by movies based on Jules Verne’s books, as most of the characters started off as just your average person, yet they were able to overcome so many challenges rolled into those stories. We have an innate need to persevere.”
Designed as a mash-up of 1800s architecture and Steampunk style, the town will feature intriguing shops and restaurants, including robot-owned and operated Java Joe’s handcrafted coffees, who, within the story, get their beans from small roaster Expedition Roasters.
Visitors can then head out into the “Back Country” section of the park, where they’ll find a turn-of-the-century county fair, a gem mine experience and Mine Cave Adventure Tour, and thrilling treetop ride, Baron VonZümski’s SkyRunner Rocket Planes, plus more attractions and the exclusive VIP dining spot, the Time Crystal Club.
Other dining options within the park are the Lucky Rabbit grand saloon restaurant, Paula Pigg’s quick-serve picnic counter, Pasquale’s Pizzeria, Señor Molé’s Tacos N Tamales, Big Bog’s Barbecue, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and soda fountain, and a candy shoppe, plus several food carts.
Retail outlets include Gurdy’s Mercantile and General Store, Ma Gurdy’s Toy Box, McCowan’s “Jackalope Junction Town Cryer” newspaper office, and Professor Ping’s Emporium of Magic and Science, and more.
A Native American Village and a campground are also expected, with grand plans for future expansion.
For a deep dive into how themed parks are created, guests can take a tour of the nearby Acorn Entertainment Studios to see animators working on future animated television series, and artists and crafts-persons working in the fabrication facility.
Jackalope Junction StoryPark will be set in the heart of Historic Williams, Ariz., known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.” The park will be part of a 500-acre parcel designated for a future planned community, and while its own footprint will be small, at just 10-12 acres, with an attendance limit of 3,000 guests per day, Shumsky hopes it will tap into the five million tourists who visit Williams each year.
If funding is attained, Shumsky expects the park to open by Summer 2024. Attendance will be by reservation, but walk-ups will also be accepted.
For more information, visit AcornEntertainmentGroup.com.