By Allen Wolfe
Roswell, New Mexico was made famous in 1947 when a supposed Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) crash-landed just outside of the city. The U.S. government claimed it was a weather balloon, but the city of Roswell has been enjoying the alien-related tourism ever since.
“Our instant and worldwide name recognition for being famous for UFOs and aliens is priceless,” said Zach Montgomery, planning director for the city of Roswell.
Recently the city of Roswell has begun planning for a UFO theme park. Many residents of Roswell see the contruction proposal as a positive stimulus for the local economy.
Some people might relate the projected success of the theme park to the success of the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell.
“With the creation of the International UFO Museum and Research Center in 1991 and 1992, Roswell now has a tourism sector of the economy,” Montgomery said, predicting a positive future for the UFO theme park.
Dirk Vander Ploeg, editor and publisher of UFO Digest, believes “if the theme park is in Roswell, it should do well, like the museum.”
Since the early ’50s, UFOs have been an appealing part of American culture, engendering various movies, television shows and pilgrimages to what is referred to as the Mecca of UFO enthusiasts.
Within the UFO research world, many are hesitant to support “gimmicky” business endeavors concerning UFOs or “Star Visitors,” as Dr. Richard Boylan calls them.
Dr. Boylan is an internationally noted researcher of UFOs/Star Visitors and owner of the UFO-Star Visitors website.
Dr. Boylan expressed a concern common among many UFO enthusiasts.
The theme park could be detrimental to UFO research “if it follows the usual cartoonish and non-respectful presentation of Star Visitors,” he said.
Vander Ploeg explains the universal appeal of UFOs as representing an attractive unknown in a well-understood system of knowledge.
“The thought that other intelligent life is visiting Earth means we are not alone in the universe,” he said. It is this magnetism to the mysterious that will always draw a crowd.
One hope of the park is to encourage tourists to elongate their stay in the city.
Kim Elliot, the Parks and Recreation director for the city, foresees new business building up around the proposed theme park, providing increased tourist attractions and an inevitable boost to the local economy.
“The out-of-town visitors would also stay, eat and play in Roswell, all of which would help the economy,” she said.
The proposal of the UFO theme park is seen as a positive incentive for tourism, an economic stimulus for local business overall.
“The theme park would act as a routine draw to Roswell from communities as far as 500 miles away,” Montgomery said. “This would provide existing businesses a much larger consumer base to sell their goods and services to.”
Montgomery added, “Roswell now has a tourism sector of the economy that is the fourth-largest sector of the overall economy that currently employs around 3,000 people city-wide.”
The city of Roswell is a very unique section of the earth that has become a “household name,” according to Montgomery.
He does not view the theme park as necessary to the return of tourists to Roswell, but this “one-of-a-kind attraction will be changing with the addition of new rides and attractions all the time to keep people coming back year after year for decades to come.”