Bedrock City!(All photos: Michelle Enemark for Atlas Obscura)
At one point in the 1970s, there were at least six different theme parks inspired by The Flintstones in North America. Although the animated sitcom set in the Stone Age only aired from 1960 to 1966, new attractions inspired by the Flintstones, the Rubbles, and their respective pet dinosaurs continued to pop up well into the cartoon’s second decade of syndication.
One of the kitschiest is Bedrock City, in Williams, Arizona, which has a tram chugging through a man-made volcano and a slide that looks like a brontosaurus’ tail. It is dotted throughout with huge statues of cartoon characters, and brightly painted concrete models of their dwellings. But after more than four decades of operation in the middle of the desert, the family that built Bedrock City has decided to sell their open-air Flintstones park.
The 30-acre property is currently listed for $2 million, and comes with a gift shop, restaurant, convenience store, RV park and campground, all with a prehistoric theme. According to the listing, “the Hanna-Barbera license does not convey,” so using Flintstones likenesses is, sadly, off-limits for the next owner.
For many years now, the eerie and almost entirely empty park has served as one of America’s weirdest roadside attractions, as it continued to pipe 1960s cartoons through giant loudspeakers, offer rides in foot-pedaled cars, and serve Fishasaurus sandwiches at its themed diner (according to a public Google Plus review, “Fred’s cafe has the best prices in the area.”)
Opened in 1972 on the side of a dusty highway about 30 miles from the Grand Canyon, Bedrock City once offered live-in actors playing Fred Flintstone and his bone-head neighbor, Barney Rubble. This diversion did not last long, however, as the site was so remote that hiring local workers to play cavemen became too challenging. The Flintstones park was open for business every day of the year except Christmas, and even though an estimated five million visitors drive through the corridor each year, it was never a big sensation.
By all accounts, the remaining structures at Bedrock City are in disrepair, with crumbling pavilions and character replicas that need more than just a fresh coat of paint after baking in the desert sun for 43 years. The brochure offered a few suggestions about what the property could be developed into. Ideas included a casino, a cultural center, or an outlet mall. Before the derelict theme park is broken down and carted off, we wanted to celebrate it with a selection of photos taken by the Atlas Obscura staff.