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Jessica Logan, left, 10, and Kathryn Logan, 6, both of Nashville, scream with delight on the Rocking Roller Coaster at Opryland theme park. The park opened for it 20th anniversary season March 31, 1991.
Delores Delvin / The Tennessean

Opryland USA theme park closed more than 20 years ago, and it is still dearly missed by the Donelson, Tennessee, community. 

There are several Facebook pages today where people reminisce about the good times they enjoyed at Opryland. Here are five reasons why the park is missed:

1. 120-acre babysitter

Opryland opened in 1972. It was operated seasonally when school was out. It was during an era when parents were comfortable leaving their kids unattended. Opryland season passes were available, so parents would often drop their kids off at the park and leave them for the day. 

2. New attractions

Each year new musical shows, restaurants and — most importantly — rides were added to the park. The new attractions were promoted during the winter months, which elevated the anticipation level. It meant long lines for the new features at the start of each summer, but attendees didn't seem to mind.

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Visitors to Opryland U.S.A. theme park enjoy one of the newer rides at the entertainment complex on the first day of the 1977 season April 9, 1977. Opryland will be open weekends only until May 30, when it will be open seven days a week.
Dale Ernsberger / The Tennessean

3. Summer jobs

Teenagers looking for part-time work in Donelson were usually limited to finding employment cutting grass, babysitting or working at fast food chains in the 1960s and early '70s. That all changed when Opryland opened, with hundreds of seasonal positions. Many of the gigs were filled by high school students, who not only earned extra money, but also developed new friendships with their co-workers.  

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One of the sure signs of spring in Nashville is the opening of Opryland U.S.A. amusement park, and visitors line up to enter the gates for the first time March 20, 1985. The park, which hopes to attract more than 2 million visitors this year, kicked off its 14th season.
T.J. Hamilton / The Tennessean

4. Grooming ground

Aspiring musicians jumped at the opportunity to work in the shows at the park. They knew talent scouts would routinely check out the performances. The stages helped launch the careers for many local singers, artists and actors.       

 ► Nashville fixture turns 40: How Gaylord Opryland Hotel transformed Music City

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Rodd Sovar of Bristol, Tenn., practices his dance steps in a lobby of the Acuff Theater to music played by a cassette player Jan. 15, 1985. A steady stream of people hoping to be hired by Orpyland for it's upcoming 14th season of live stage shows at its theme park.
P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean

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5. Another mall, seriously?

After Opryland closed in 1997, the announcement came that the park would be converted into a retail shopping mall. Opry Mills would replace it. This was not welcomed news for most Donelson residents. They already had 100 Oaks, Rivergate and Hickory Hollow malls nearby and CoolSprings was not too far away. Add to that, mall shopping had become increasingly less popular.

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Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.