Ripley’s and Guinness attractions leave Alamo after 20 years to make way for a museum

Asia Blooms was walking to the Alamo with three friends when a sign drew them to the Guinness Museum of World Records.

In town for a gaming and anime convention in San Japan, the Californian and his friends spent more than two hours immersing themselves in the exhibits before even setting foot near the iconic church at the site of the mission and battle. They were among the last patrons of one of three amusement rides that will close for the last time on Monday. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, a square fixture for two decades, and Tomb Rider 3D will also be shut down permanently.

“It’s kind of sad because they’ve been there for 20 years and now they’re closing on Labor Day weekend, which is kind of ironic,” Florece, 25, said.

Davis Phillips, president and chief executive officer of Phillips Entertainment, the family-owned company that operates the three attractions with about 100 employees, said there’s an undertone of melancholy mixed with excitement about what lies ahead. His grandfather and his father, who were his mentors, taught him to always have a contingency plan.

“It’s the end of an era, but it’s not the end of Phillips Entertainment. I’ve been working for probably 13 or 14 years to prepare us for life without these attractions,” he said. “A family business is almost like a member of the family. Help provide the life that everyone enjoys. So it’s a big deal when it changes and when it goes away.”

If there is any pleasure to be derived from this change, it is that the three attractions will not close because they failed financially, like dozens of other businesses across the street from the famous Texas sanctuary. His company accepted an undisclosed offer from the Texas General Land Office and the nonprofit Alamo Trust to buy out his lease, which runs through 2028.

The Land Office owns three historic commercial structures on the square, including the Palace and Woolworth buildings, where Phillips has been leasing space. The three buildings, which sit in part on the footprint of the historic Alamo mission fortress, will be renovated to serve as a $140 million, 100,000-square-foot Alamo museum and visitor center, opening in March 2026.

Phillips, whose company still runs four other businesses downtown, including two on the south end of the plaza, as well as two Extreme Escape locations on the north side, will continue to serve on the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee, providing comment on the mass public: Alamo’s private makeover.

See also  Southern Vermont Correctional Cafeteria Encourages Good Behavior – NBC New England

“The project is going in the best direction since it all started” in 2014, he said. “The city of San Antonio and the travel and tourism industry need this to be a victory.”

His family’s connection to Texas tourism dates back to the 1960s. Phillips’s grandfather, Gene Phillips, was president of Aquarena Springs, then one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state. Her father, William “Phil” Davis Phillips, worked there and later ran the Southwest Historical Wax Museum in Grand Prairie.

“Those two gentlemen specifically were instrumental in helping Texas tourism flourish,” Davis Phillips said.

Phillips, who started working at the wax museum at age 11, said both men taught him “confidence with humility” and the importance of putting the health of the business before personal desires.

He credits his grandfather for being among the first Texans to support state and local travel industry groups to share information and advocate for issues to support the tourism economy.

His father, who received formal musical training, pioneered the use of different tunes in each room of the gallery to establish an “immersive experience,” Phillips said. He helped establish a wax museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Alamo Plaza in the late 1980s before retiring in 1997. He died in 2007.

The family started their own business in 2000. They opened Ripley’s Haunted Adventure in March 2002, then the Guinness museum in 2003, and Davy Crockett’s Tall Tales Ride and Interactive Outpost in 2005. The $3 million Crockett-themed ride was “excellent” in concept, but it lagged behind in ticket sales because it was aimed at kids under 13, Phillips said. So in 2008, the company changed to the Tomb Rider brand, complete with 3D glasses and laser lights wrapped in an Egyptian adventure motif, and became “the best we operate.”

Since 2002, the three attractions have sold more than seven million tickets.

Now, it’s time for a new chapter.

Phillips has until October 31 to vacate the Palace and Woolworth buildings. He will return Guinness and Haunted Adventure items to Florida-based Ripley Entertainment, sell Tomb Rider parts to the manufacturer and dispose of most of the rest.

See also  Oh, Canada: Top 20 Canadian Trips for Solo Travelers - National

His company, under management agreements, will continue to operate the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum and the Texas Rangers Museum on Houston Street and the Amazing Mirror Maze in Alamo Plaza. He recently opened Viva SA.TX!, a souvenir retail store in the former La Tienda location on the plaza, and is part of a group soon to open a new ’80s-’90s-themed concept bar called Be Kind and Rewind. at the former Fuddruckers location on the square.

Both of Phillips’ sons, ages 25 and 17, have worked for the company, and their mother, Janet Phillips, is the chairman of the board.

“There is a lot of success and a lot of pride in what our family has done and will continue to do,” Phillips said.

Although the north end of Alamo Plaza has been closed to traffic and is now treated with more reverence in recognition of its history as a battlefield, cemetery, and the first permanent local Hispanic-Indian mission, Phillips believes the plaza should always remain “the heartbeat of San Antonio.”

“It’s the center of our city, and it’s a place for people to come and have fun. It is a place for people to come to remember. It is a place for people to come and speak their minds. And I hope it stays that way in the future.”

Jaz Ramirez, a 27-year-old from Midland who joined Florece as part of the group of four that recently visited the Alamo, was pleased, having spent $25.99 to see the Guinness World Records museum with her friends. After reading about things like the world’s biggest man and mountaineering feats, then playing the games and attempting to record the world’s loudest scream in the attraction’s popular scream room, it was bittersweet to learn that the days of the three attractions were numbered.

“I grew up coming to San Antonio and the Alamo to do things,” Ramírez said.

“Growing up, I never had the money to be able to go do all of that. And to go and do it now as an adult and know that I can’t do it again, it makes me a little sad.”

[email protected]

Leave a Comment