There are two great mysteries when it comes to the Opryland complex just off Briley. One is large and I cannot answer it–why did it seem like a good idea to close down Opryland and put up a mall? Could a mall and an amusement park not have worked hand in hand? I take comfort in knowing that everyone who works at Gaylord is haunted by this same question.
The other is smaller. Why would you ever pay to park at the hotel when you can park at the mall for free and walk over?
That I have an answer for.
Because some folks do. You go to the movie theater side of the mall, park way out at the end of the parking lot, and then it’s just a short walk over to a back entrance to the hotel.
But it’s not exactly a nice walk. You are literally walking over the corpse of Opryland. There’s an old gate, old sidewalks, old light fixtures, and to your left, the old cave that featured prominently in the Grizzly River Rampage, a water ride in which you and eleven others were seated in a round barrel like contraption and set off down a fake river, to get wet.
And sure, if you’re filled with nostalgia for your Nashville childhood, it’s kind of heartbreaking.
But what keeps people out is that you’re walking along, in broad daylight, and you can see your car behind you if you turn and look and if you crane your neck, you can see the hotel in front of you.
And there, on the path, coming towards you, looking suitably tired and excited after a day’s outing, is a family of four. At first, nothing at all about them seems that weird. And then you realize that the parents are both smoking and you can’t remember the last time you saw people looking so at ease smoking in public. Or those shorts that the men are wearing. Sure, fashions come back, but shorts that short on men?
It’s disconcerting. To the point where maybe it’s just easier to pay the parking fee.
And I imagine that, as fashions continue to change, and it becomes less and less easy to convince yourself that those could be people from your time, paying for parking becomes easier and easier to justify.