The now-abandoned water slide. Source: (Wikipedia).
A Perfect Storm Of Events Led To Its Closure
Unfortunately, the park met a series of unfortunate events: attendance dropped, the energy crisis kept people from traveling, the popularity of hillbillies waned, and a mild winter devastated Marble Falls. In 1974, Odom tried to work with the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts at the University of Arkansas to create a repertory theater in the park which unfortunately was a disappointment. By 1976, Union Planters Bank started to foreclose on Odom’s $3.5 million in debts, and things only got worse when Al Capp retired, bringing an end to Li’l Abner. In 1977, Odom announced the permanent closure of the ski slopes at Marble Falls, although they did advertise new activities there in subsequent years. By 1979, the operating expenses for the park were more than they brought in. However, they continued to add new attractions in 1980, including a trained bear act. With the heatwave of 1980, Dogpatch USA filed for bankruptcy, and Union Planters Bank, which had taken possession of both Dogpatch USA and Marble Falls, put Dogpatch on the market to pay off $7 million in loans. Ozarks Entertainment Inc. (OEI) bought Dogpatch USA in 1981 and began to take the park in new directions, including hosting stars such as Reba McEntire in the amphitheater. That year, Bruce Raney bought Dogpatch Caverns and Old Man Moses Cave and renamed them, renovating Old Man Moses Cave (now called Crystal Dome) and opening both as attractions. Dogpatch continued to face trouble and changed hands as it struggled to survive and faced competition from other parks. In 1991, they even offered free admission to attract visitors; instead, they charged per attraction and kept the arts and crafts aspect. They also dropped the Li’l Abner theme so they no longer paid the Capp estate and changed the name from Dogpatch USA to Dogpatch, Arkansas. Two years later, on October 14, 1993, the park was permanently closed.