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Southwest Missouri News--Branson

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by Carol Harris, Branson area, and Mary Engler-Guccione, Joplin area

Silver Dollar City Inc. has announced it began a long-term lease Jan. 3 to manage the operations of Georgia's Stone Mountain Park.

Silver Dollar City and its partners, Marriott International and Zoo Atlanta, have entered into a 30-year lease to privatize many of the operations at Stone Mountain Park, previously managed by Stone Mountain Memorial Association and the state of Georgia.

Stone Mountain Park, located just east of Atlanta, comprises 3,200 acres and is the site of the world's largest exposed granite formation, often called the "eighth wonder of the world."

Upcoming improvements to the park include upgrading many of the park's existing attractions such as the train, riverboat, antebellum plantation, guest dining areas and restaurants. Plans also include adding world-class events such as a summer children's festival and a new Christmas festival.

Marriott Conference Centers, a division of Marriott International, will oversee and operate the Evergreen Conference Resort and the Stone Mountain Inn. Marriott Golf will maintain the park's championship golf courses and the International Tennis Center. The park's wilderness preserve will be managed by Zoo Atlanta.

According to Silver Dollar City, long term plans for the park call for additional development to be phased in over the next several years, subject to the approval by Stone Mountain Memorial Association, which retains final decision-making authority over all future development proposals.

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