New Operator of Old Tucson Studios Approved

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously 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 picturesque Tucson Mountain Park, the property has served as a major tourist attraction. OTS closed its doors in 2020, when its former owners notified Pima County they would be terminating their lease. 

The county began searching for a new operator and, in 2021, negotiations began with American Heritage Railways. Founded in 1998, AHR 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, COO 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 beloved 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 “Night Fall,” which will be followed by a Christmas event.

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