County supervisors approve contract for Old Tucson Studios operator

Nightfall to return as 1st planned event under agreement with American Heritage Railways
Old Tucson Studios has been a landmark in Pima County since 1939, serving as the backdrop for...
Old Tucson Studios has been a landmark in Pima County since 1939, serving as the backdrop for hundreds of film and commercial shoots.(Gerry Loew | Pima County)
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 1:09 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday, April 5, to approve an agreement with American Heritage Railways as the new operator of Old Tucson Studios.

Old Tucson Studios has been a landmark in Pima County since 1939, serving as the backdrop for hundreds of film and commercial shoots. Located in the Tucson Mountain Park, the property has also served as a tourist attraction. The studios closed in 2020, when former owners notified Pima County they would be terminating their lease.

Founded in 1998, American Heritage Railways specializes in the railroad, entertainment, theatrical, and hospitality industries. Its subsidiary corporation, Old Tucson Entertainment LLC, will manage and operate the property as a public Western Frontier-type recreational and entertainment venue.

“Old Tucson Studios has so much rich history that needs to be preserved and shared with the world,” said John Harper, Chief Operating Officer of Old Tucson Entertainment. “We look forward to working with production companies to provide a real western town experience in an amazing location that has all the characteristics any company is looking for.”

Pima County Attractions and Tourism Director Diane Frisch said the company’s ties to the film industry can help bring movie magic back to the popular landmark.

“This marks an exciting new phase in Old Tucson’s storied legacy,” said Frisch. “We are so excited to see this enormous economic driver for our region brought back to its full glory, and are confident American Heritage Railways is the company to help make that happen.”

The first major event planned for the studios is the Halloween attraction “Nightfall,” which will be followed by a Christmas event.

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