|A brief history about Thrillhunter
In 2003, I started looking around the net for information or sites about my favorite theme park
Opryland. The more I looked around the more disheartened I became. There wasn't really
anything about the park on the web. It was like it had never existed. Opryland is where I had
so many fond memories, my summers were spent there (thanks to my season pass) from
around 1984 until the park closed in 1997. I couldn't let a very happy part of my past go quietly
into the void of nothingness. So Thrillhunter was born. When I first started building my site I
had no idea what I was doing, as I really didn't have any web building experience up to that
point. So I bought a domain and got a web host and so it began. I had no major plans as far as
what I wanted the site to be,or what I wanted to talk about, I sure didn't realize the impact I
would have on people's lives down the road. I simply wanted to build something to preserve my
memories of my childhood playground. And I am beyond thrilled to share those with you, and
that you all are sharing your amazing memories of Opryland with me.
Slowly but surely my (our) site has continued to grow thanks to people like you, who have
shared your memories, pictures, and home videos with all of us. I was amazed once I started
getting feedback from site visitors about their feelings on the park, their thanking me for
building my site, and the overall good feelings they get when looking back. I am thrilled that
what started out as just a simple thought, has not only made be happy but countless others, it
is a great feeling knowing you are bringing happiness to people you've never even met.
Sometime in 2004 I got an unexpected phone call, it was someone at Gaylord's corporate
office. They wanted to discuss my site, needless to say I was quiet concerned given the
circumstances. They own the rights to everything Opryland related, from the names of
attractions, logos, to basically anything and everything concerning the park. I was happy to
cooperate in any way I could. Once they had time to look into my site, they decided not to ask
me to close my site, which they could have very easily done. From what they told me, there
had been a few sites before mine that had focused on the negative publicity that the company
had received after closing the park. I took this as a good omen to continue in the same
direction I was going, from the beginning, I made a choice to focus on the park's history and all
the fun times that were had and the memories that remain.
In late 2007, I received an email from Ed Stone who was the former VP of Marketing and PR for
Opryland. We talked about the park, my site, and several other things. This led to him inviting
me to attend the Opryland Employee Reunion in 2008. I was thrilled that he had asked me to
attend and I appreciated the invite very much. So far I've attended the 2008 and 2010 reunions
and have met many wonderful people. They can tell you stories like it was yesterday from their
time working their going all the way back to the 70's, when the park opened. I enjoyed listening
to them talk about the flood and the efforts it took to get the park back to "ready" in just a few
weeks, and their behind the scenes stories that were really funny, and all the other stories and
memories these people shared were throughly enjoyed by all. It has been a truly great
experience getting to meet the people that were the reason that Opryland was such an
amazing, fun, clean family place.
Over the last several years, I have continued building and adding new material as it becomes
available to me. My once little site has really started to take off. As you can imagine, I am very
happy to see it grow.
Also in 2008, another great experience came by way of Justin Harvey from WNPT Channel 8
here in Nashville contacting me about a show he was planning called "Memories of Opryland"
and asked me to be a part of it. It was a truly fun experience being a part of that. I remember
the day I went in to do my interview, I was so nervous. I had never done a sit down interview
like that before, much less in front of a camera. I will say this, Justin was truly great to work
with. He did a great job of leading me through the interview while keeping things very relaxed.
From what my friends and family tell me, they couldn't tell that I was nervous at all which I credit
to Justin, that is him doing what he does best. He is a credit to the station and a very pleasant
person in general. I filmed my part in August, and then the wait began. On November 30th, the
show debuted to a great response. I was very pleased on the great job they did putting the
show together and I really enjoyed watching it.
In the weeks following the show's debut, my site blew up. I had more visitors to this site than I
could have ever imagined. It made all the effort I've put into this site well worth the time, money
and heart that I have put into it.
During 2009 and 2010, I've seen the advent of Youtube and Facebook really becoming a new
source for people to share their memories. I've been really busy with my personal life during the
past couple of years and really have not done much with the site. But as you can tell, it's time
to grow again. With all the wonderful people I've had the pleasure of getting to know and meet,
I'm looking forward to growing my site and sharing many ,many more memories and media with
everyone. I hope everyone continues to enjoy what started out 8 years ago as one guy's simple
tribute to the park he grew to love.
My sincere thanks goes to everyone who has supported and enjoyed my site over the years.
It's been a blast!
Steve "Thrillhunter" Spencer