Less than a year after the fatal Ride the Ducks Branson accident on Table Rock Lake, owner Ripley Entertainment Inc. is planning a new attraction at the amphibious vehicle depot.
Suzanne Smagala-Potts, public relations manager for Ripley Entertainment, this morning said the company is targeting a Memorial Day opening for the newly formed Branson Top Ops at the 2320 W. Highway 76 site.
“Branson thrives on tourism. That’s what makes that community run,” she said. “Our first thoughts are with the community and what we can do. We wanted to make sure we were contributing to the community economically.”
Branson Top Ops, she said, would feature indoor laser tag, an outdoor maze and other amenities at the patriotic-themed attraction.
Smagala-Potts said the more than 47-year-old Ride the Ducks Branson will not operate during the 2019 season but did not disclose whether the attraction would close for good.
“Right now, we’re just focused on getting this new attraction up and running and we’re only looking at the 2019 season at this time,” she said.
Smagala-Potts said crews are expected to start this week transforming the property into Branson Top Ops. She was unsure of Ripley Entertainment’s expected investment in the venture.
Branson Top Ops was registered with the Missouri secretary of state on March 13 by Ripley Entertainment.
BransonTopOps.com indicates 10 percent of all 2019 proceeds — with a minimum amount of $100,000 — would be donated to first responders, including local police, fire and EMS officials “who put their lives on the line to make the Branson community a safer place to live, work and play.”
Ride the Ducks Branson and parent company Ripley Entertainment have come under intense scrutiny following the July 19, 2018, accident that killed 17 people on board as stormy weather conditions descended upon the vessel traversing Table Rock Lake. The vessel capsized, causing several passengers to drown.
Multiple civil, state and federal lawsuits have been filed since the incident, and as of this morning, a dozen active suits against Ripley Entertainment were listed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
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