Old Tucson Studios

Old Tucson is a movie studio and theme park just west of Tucson, Arizona, adjacent to the Tucson Mountains and close to the western portion of Saguaro National Park. Built in 1939 for the movie Arizona (1940), it has been used for the filming of several movies and television westerns since then, such as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Rio Bravo (1959), El Dorado (1966), and Little House on the Prairie TV series of the 1970s-1980s. It was opened to the public in 1960, and historical tours are offered about the movies filmed there, along with live cast entertainment featuring stunt shows and shootouts.

In 2011, Old Tucson embarked on a project to build new movie-quality sets that fill out the park, and restore the pre-fire feel of close-together buildings, providing the look and depth of a genuine old west town circa 1865-1900. “After the rebuild of Old Tucson following the 1995 fire, the town just didn’t have the same look and feel,” says Old Tucson CEO and General Manager Pete Mangelsdorf. “We started discussions with Bob Shelton several years ago to develop a plan to fill the empty space in Town Square with movie quality sets that bring the magic back.”
The Heritage Square Project, a 5,000-square-foot spread with three new streets lined with 12 new buildings, was completed in November 2011 at an estimated cost of $300,000. The design and construction of the new sets was led by Production Designer Gene Rudolf, credited with creating sets for movies including Young Guns II, The Great Gatsby, The Right Stuff, Raging Bull, Marathon Man, and Three Days of the Condor. The project added dressmaker shops, a general store and a blacksmith, and are part of “living history” presentations. One of the goals of the Heritage Project was to add “more programs that have to do with the different cultural aspects, the Hispanic culture, the Chinese culture, the Native American culture,” said Mangelsdorf. Along those lines, another new exhibit now open to the public features a Tohono O’odham village as it would have appeared in the 1860s. It includes traditional houses, a garden and other facets of village life
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Address Tucson, Arizona U.S.A.