Fort Mill, SC

This Abandoned NC Christian-themed Park Was One of the Biggest Parks in USA

Diana Rus

Heritage USA was a Christian-themed park that was opened in 1978 and closed in 1989.

Heritage USA was located in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and was founded by Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker.

The park's 2,300-acre location was built by church builder Roe Messner. Since its closure in 1989, projects have been built on the area it originally covered, with portions of it sold to several companies.

When MorningStar Fellowship Church bought the former Heritage USA facilities in Fort Mill, South Carolina, in 2004, they were given the new name Heritage International Ministries (H.I.M.).

About Heritage USA Park

The PTL Club's founders, televangelist Jim Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye Bakker created Heritage USA, a water park, theme park, and residential complex with an American Christian theme near Fort Mill, South Carolina.

When Heritage USA first opened its doors in 1978, it had around 2,500 employees and attracted over 6 million visitors yearly.

With 4.9 million annual visitors, it was the third-most-popular theme park behind Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Heritage USA park had a 501-room Heritage Grand Hotel.

Some of the park's attractions are the attraction Main Street USA, an indoor shopping complex, the Heritage Village Church, Upper Room, a 400-unit campground, The Jerusalem Amphitheater, conference facilities, King's Castle, a skating rink, prayer and counseling services, cable television production studios, and Bible and evangelism school.

The park also offered visitor retreat housing, staff, and volunteer housing, timeshares, and the Heritage Island water park and recreational facilities.

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Falwell on the water slidePhoto byHeritage USA/ Wikipedia

Most famous attraction - Falwell's slide

In order to fulfill a pledge made during a fundraising campaign that brought in $20 million for the indebted PTL, televangelist Jerry Falwell, dressed in a suit, went down a 163-foot water slide nicknamed the "Typhoon," according to the September 21, 1987, edition of Time magazine.

The drive eventually took the PTL Club and Heritage USA from Jim Bakker.

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Heritage USAPhoto byHeritage USA/ Wikipedia

Why Heritage USA Park Was Closed?

The IRS canceled Heritage USA's tax exemption at its highest point when the company was making $126 million annually.

Attendance at the park decreased shortly after Bakker was charged with federal crimes. Falwell argued that the park unfairly competed with attractions that required payment of taxes and that the tax-exempt ministry should be divided from PTL's commercial interests.

With debts estimated at $72 million, Heritage USA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy under Falwell's direction.

165,000 people had contributed $1,000 to Jim Bakker's proposed Heritage USA hotel tower in exchange for a lifelong guarantee of a four-day vacation stay; each donor received $6.54 in return.

Bakker's legal and personal issues first made news in 1987, and in September 1989, Hurricane Hugo severely damaged several of the structures. Shortly after the hurricane, Heritage USA closed.

In 2018, Rick Joyner, a public speaker, and author expressed interest in rebuilding the theme park.

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