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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Belly up to the Old Tucson Studios

    There is one place in Arizona that lonesome cowboys, can-can girls and grubby miners can call home: Old Tucson. This historic location may seem like a tourist trap, but Old Tucson Studios, 201 S. Kinney Road, offers an authentic slice of America’s Old West for visitors and locals alike in an amusement park-like setting.

    Manny Camacho, a Tucson native, had not made a trip to the studios since he was young.

    “”It’s been about 10 years, and I wanted to come back with some pals. They’ve heard about how cool it is,”” Camacho said.

    Camacho, like many others, enjoys the so-called “”Hollywood in the Desert”” city setup of the active film studio. Many Western movie stars, including John Wayne and Bing Crosby, have walked its dirt roads.

    The Western town sits on 320 acres and both wooden and adobe buildings line the dirt streets, mimicking Western culture of the 1800s.

    The stunning desert scenery and mountain backdrops act as picturesque settings for Western classics such as 1956’s “”Gunfight at OK Corral.””

    Old Tucson Studios has entertainment for visitors such as musical shows, studio tours, exhibits, horseback rides, dining and shopping. A majority of the buildings display portions of actual movie sets and props, which makes this venue perfect for movie buffs.

    Don’t worry if you hear a gunshot or two; they are hourly occurrences around the studios. One show, “”Law in a Lawless Land,”” features an Arizona territorial ranger taking on a lawless desperado. A dramatic shootout opens the show, and from that moment, it resembles an old Western movie – but even better, because the show is live.

    Old Tucson Studios puts on eight different shows throughout the day and between looking at exhibits around the town, it’s worthwhile to grab a seat and watch the live Western drama unfold. “”The Old Tucson Stunt Showdown,”” gives a close-up look at how Western action stunts are performed. The show is thrilling onstage and keeps excitement floating in the air among the audience.

    If nail-biting excitement is what you’re after, take a guided tour of the “”Iron Door Mine,”” as tour guide “”Terrible Tom”” explains the story behind the haunted, abandoned mine. A truly chilling and dark tour will leave you running for the light at the end of the tunnel.

    John Wilson, a visitor from Olympia, Wash., was entertained by the mine tour and laughed at his own frightfulness.

    “”At times I couldn’t see anything, but that made it fun and almost like a real mine,”” Wilson said. “”I was holding on to my wife so I wouldn’t get lost.””

    If a spooky mine tour is not your cup of tea, try taking the reins with a horseback ride around Tucson Mountain Park. A trip in the saddle will surely stir up the cowboy inside, but be sure to book a reservation in advance, because tours fill up fast.

    Old Tucson Studios has delicious dining options perfect for putting a rumbling stomach to rest. Big Jake’s, famous for barbecue, is the town’s main dining attraction with tasty ribs and barbeque classics such as pulled pork and chicken. If your mouth is feeling dry, stop into Rosa’s Cantina to sip on a frozen margarita and experience exotic tequilas.

    Sweet-toothed tourists should head over to Phoebe’s Candy Shop for a variety of homemade fudge and cotton candy.

    Old Tucson Studios has proven itself to be a successful attraction and a well-known Western movie studio home to more than 350 films.

    Both local and international visitors take pleasure stepping back in time for an authentic Western adventure. One couple made a trip across the Pacific to experience the Old Tucson Studios.

    “”We are very, very excited to be here,”” said Japanese native Yoshi Fujita. “”We think that it is better than Tombstone.””

    The friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere guarantee a good time for guests of any age – just ride with the idea of a Western wonderland and you will be pleased.

    For every student who claims to have nothing to do on weekends, this is the perfect opportunity to stop complaining and try something new. Take a few friends down to Old Tucson and spend an hour or two. An adventure awaits, and it’s one you probably won’t find in the calculus book collecting dust on your desk.

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