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Dec. 7, 2022

Creative Visions to Update the Haunted Mine Drop in Glenwood Caverns

Creative Visions to Update the Haunted Mine Drop in Glenwood Caverns

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs CO was home to the Haunted Mine Drop. Built on the side of a mountain, the ride drops you 120’ under the ground. The ride has been closed since a guest died on the attraction in September 2021. But...

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Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs CO was home to the Haunted Mine Drop. Built on the side of a mountain, the ride drops you 120’ under the ground. The ride has been closed since a guest died on the attraction in September 2021. But now, Creative Visions is retheming the entire ride and the park plans to reopen it. Today we’ll hear a preview from Mark McDonough, Founder of Creative Visions, on what the new ride will be like. This interview was recorded during the IAAPA Expo on the show floor. Subscribe:


Mark McDonough: If you remember the Haunted Mine Drop project, so we're retheming that. I don't know if they've announced the new name yet, so I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut. I got in trouble for saying the name too early last time and had to have a podcast yanked off the internet. I don't want to do that to you. So, anyway, we're doing a retheme and it's really cool. I can't say the name because I don't know if it's officially released, I can tell you it involves crystals.

Philip Hernandez: Yeah, we can see, yeah.

Mark McDonough: Figured that out, OK. So, everything we did on that old ride, the essence of the ride remains. It's still an underground drop ride, you start at ground level and you drop 120 feet underground, it's a very cool experience. It's the only one of its kind in the world. So, we are going from being a dark and gritty, and haunted feel attraction to the exact opposite. We're earthy and fun and flighty and hippie, and shrooms are now legal in Colorado, and this thing is perfectly timed for that. People can be like, "Colorado, right?" Yes. But the key thing is we wanted something really fun. So, there's a lot of crystals involved in this that might or might not be involved in the name of the attraction that I can or cannot name yet.

Philip Hernandez: Don't get yourself in trouble.

Mark McDonough: Exactly, like I said. So, this is kind of a centerpiece that's going to be in the front of the building about 20 feet off the ground. We have a giant crystal structure where, if you remember in the old attraction, there was a giant rotating gear. Gear has been yanked, this replaces it. Glenwood Caverns though, we all know this, that's what's happening. So, this is like a kind of centerpiece in the front of the building. It is made out of fiberglass and it's a really unique crystal structure where the lights change colors. 

Mark McDonough: So, the whole attraction has a crystal theme to it we'll say. For those that know about what the ride was, you start at ground level and it's a drop ride, you freefall drop about 120 feet into a hole in the mountain underground. only one of its kind in the world. So, once you land at the bottom you will encounter other crystal structures, cause everything's crystal based. This little guy right here is an example of one of the pieces that you will find underground after you have had this terrifying fall 120 feet underground, and just because the new version of the ride is a little more light and fun and airy, the drop ride itself is still scary as ever. So, it's going to be awesome. 

Mark McDonough: Basically, everything about the old ride, we're doing a 180. Everything that was dark is now light, everything was scary is now fun, everything that was, honestly, male is now female. Just for a variety of reasons we decided, let's make everything the exact polar opposite of what we did the first time around, which is making this a really fun challenge for me because we've got all these constrictions. We always have constrictions with what we build, this has its own unique set of things that I have to work around, but it's a lot of fun because I get to figure out, "Hey, how are we going to make this as different as possible?" In the old ride, while still paying tribute to what it was, because the original version of this thing was awesome.

Philip Hernandez: It was awesome.

Speaker Hate to see it go. Gotta go, bye-bye. What can we do that is at least enough to pay respect to what it was and create new identities for years to come. So, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park was cool enough in Glenwood Springs, Colorado folks, about 2 1/2 hours out of Denver. You should all go there, they're open year-round. So, this is going to be the whole new experience there. We're going to have this thing open probably by late March is the plan. These are literally pieces that go into the park. The clients came by this morning, they loved it, first time they saw it in person.

Philip Hernandez: Wow, that's a fast timeline.

Mark McDonough: Yes, well, we actually started...

Philip Hernandez: It's been a work in progress.

Mark McDonough: Yeah, this has been a work in progress. We started, actually, at the beginning of the year, and two things happened. They opened a roller coaster, I don't know if you guys knew about the new roller coaster, and originally, we were going to do a theming package on that. Ultimately, when it came down to it, my only contribution to the roller coaster was I picked the colors. So, if you don't like the colors, sorry, that's me. We didn't do any of the other stuff we were talking about. We shifted the emphasis over to the retheme for the drop ride. So, now that the roller coaster is basically done, they're going to make some more enclosures, buildings, and things. But it's essentially done. It's been open all summer. So, now we're switching emphasis to this. 

Mark McDonough: So, after the trade show is over in December, I go back, we start working on the install for this by, let's say late March. They say early March, but I know realistically late March, April-ish, before the spring season we'll have this puppy up and running. It's going to look beautiful, and you can be like, "Oh my gosh!" In a way you look at it like, "Oh yeah, that's the old Haunted Mine Drop building," and another way you going to look at and go, "wow, this is a very different experience." Considering it's the exact same drop ride, minus with a few tweaks to the right itself.

Philip Hernandez: Yeah, but it still plays into the park and the feeling of where they are and the caverns.

Mark McDonough: Yeah, and you know, that's the thing, we're looking at the future of Glenwood Caverns because this park's been around 22 years at this point. So, we're looking at the future of, what does the future hold for this park, and how do we create identities that are going to help bring it forward? So, characters that are going to be involved in this, I'm hoping will become part of the park's ecosystem. So, things that will happen here, that I can't necessarily talk about because we haven't got final approval, you may find in other aspects of the park down the road. So, I like that. I wanted to do that with the Mine Drop originally, that was the plan. We were going to take just little pieces of what was experienced in that ride and start peppering it into the rest of the park. Then as new rides and things happened suddenly this whole thing would come together. So we're shifting focus real quickly.

Philip Hernandez: But still on the overall goal of staying on track.

Mark McDonough: Yeah, because that's the thing Glenwood Caverns started out, it had a lot of Westerny stuff, and it still has a lot of, but now as it grows and expands, we're going beyond that a little bit while also paying tribute to what it still is and has been and will be for a while. But we're adding more layers of nuance to what we're doing here. So, things like this are things that we want people... I remember when people came through and did the Mine Drop the first time, they were just amazed at this underground drop ride existed. I can't take credit for that. The only thing I can take credit for is the owner calls me up and is like, "do you think it's a good idea?" I'm like, "if you could do it, sure." I can't take any credit for the fact that exists, that's the owner of the park that had the guts to dig a giant hole in the ground and hope you could build a drop ride that could go under the ground. I just made it look neat, that was my contribution. So, it's cool that it exists and I want to make sure that 10 years from now we've got something that people are coming back and it's like their giant swing, it's an iconic piece of the park. This is our next contribution. So, come spring, we'll probably be talking some more, and I'll be able to, like, say names and talk details.

Philip Hernandez: And give us more of the story and all that.

Mark McDonough: Yeah, which I haven't finished writing yet, so come on, let's be honest here, Mark's still got scripting to do.

Philip Hernandez: We'll wait. Details incoming.

Mark McDonough: Details to be announced, yes.

Philip Hernandez: Thank you so much.

Mark McDonough: Not a problem.


Mark McDonough

Mark McDonough has a vast wealth of experience across the entertainment industry starting at the age of eleven when he participated in theater productions. He has degrees in both Technical Theatre and Advertising. He is the President of Creative Visions where he offers services from just creating singular iconic pieces to complete reworks of theming.