Utah’s fantasy-themed Evermore Park has closed permanently

The ‘immersive’ theme park in Pleasant Grove is done, less than six years after it opened.

(Palak Jayswal | The Salt Lake Tribune) A glimpse inside Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove on April 8, 2024. The fantasy-themed park is officially closed, its founder and its landlord have confirmed.

Evermore Park, a fantasy-themed amusement park in Pleasant Grove, is permanently closed, according to its landlord.

Brandon Fugal, chairman of Intermountain operation of the global investment management company Colliers International and owner of the 12.7-acre property on which the park sits, confirmed the news Monday to The Salt Lake Tribune.

The property’s tenants, Fugal said, “failed to make their business plan and operating model work.”

Those tenants include the park’s founder, Ken Bretschneider, who expressed “deep sadness and gratitude” over the park’s closure in a statement emailed Tuesday morning from Evermore’s management team and board of directors.

“The past decade has been filled with its share of trials and tribulations, but also many moments of magic and imagination,” Bretschneider wrote. “After careful consideration by our management team and board of directors, we have made the difficult and heartbreaking decision to close the park indefinitely.”

On Monday, the closed park had an eerie, abandoned feel, with orange parking cones scattered around to block access to the parking lots. There are no closure notices at the park’s entrances. In front of one side of the park, a chain attached to a rusting piece of moving equipment sat in the middle of the pavement.

A peek through the small cracks between the entryway doors allow glimpses of the silent, empty park. The rustic doors are draped with greenery that was meant to add a charming, whimsical environment — but now just adds to the spookiness.

(Palak Jayswal | The Salt Lake Tribune) A glimpse inside Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove on April 8, 2024. The fantasy-themed park is officially closed.

Fugal is an investor in the original operating company and park. He purchased the property in December 2021, a time that he said was “difficult,” coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As an investor in Evermore Park, I did not want to see it fail and wanted to give it a new lease on life, both literally and figuratively,” Fugal said. “As the new landlord, [I] restructured a new lease at that time with Evermore Park, LLC, and paid off the construction liens.” He added that he “personally settled millions of dollars that had accumulated.”

“Evermore Park faced significant challenges from the beginning, which intensified in 2020 with the COVID pandemic closures, followed by reduced consumer spending in 2021 and even more so in 2023, coupled with inflation, gave us little to work with,” Bretschneider wrote in his statement. “Coming out of the new year we had a few promising opportunities that would have provided needed bridge capital and potential to grow revenue in 2024. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, things changed and as a result we are unable to continue.”

(Palak Jayswal | The Salt Lake Tribune) Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove on April 8, 2024. The fantasy-themed park is officially closed.

As of Monday, state court records listed 47 cases in which Evermore Park has been involved over the last five years — 40 of them as a defendant. Of those cases, 23 of them were tax liens, one of them filed Monday; the rest included contract disputes and debt collections.

Bretschneider and his team attempted to continue operations, Fugal said, but the park kept defaulting on its lease. Fugal said he had not received rent since last December.

During the pandemic, Evermore Park took out two loans under the federally backed Payroll Protection Program (PPP), totaling just over $1 million — and both loans were forgiven, according to a database maintained by the nonprofit journalism outlet ProPublica.

Fugal said that, as an investor, he received a formal notice of the park’s closure, sent on March 28 by certified mail.

The majority of the park’s employees were seasonal workers, Bretschneider wrote in his statement, and their contracts ended in December with the end of the park’s Aurora Winter event. A small number of full-time employees stayed on during the off-season, he wrote, “to maintain the park as the management team and board focused on trying to save Evermore.”

Bretschneider wrote that management kept team leaders informed of “our continued challenges” in January and February — and notified them and seasonal staff in late March “immediately once it was known/decided to close the park.” The statement does not mention how many employees are affected by the closure.

The park’s fate has been a discussion topic on social media for the last few weeks.

On March 14, Landry W. Hyde, a vendor with White Stag Hydeaway, posted on Facebook that he was seeking a new location after being asked to move out of the park.

A day later, another vendor, Fawn Ashby, wrote on Facebook that “all the vendors have been asked to move out.”

A Reddit thread, begun in late March, alleged that employees found out about the park’s closure through a Discord channel. A commenter on that thread who claimed their child worked at the park said the child was informed the park was “permanently closed.”

In 2022, Utah Business Magazine reported that the park had a “brush with bankruptcy.” The magazine reported at that time that Bretschneider was optimistic that the park would be profitable.

In February 2021, Evermore Park made news when the park sued Taylor Swift, claiming the name of the pop star’s 2020 album “evermore” infringed on the park’s trademark. Swift filed a countersuit later that month, accusing the park of illegally performing her songs. Both sides dropped their suits in March 2021.

When Bretschneider was preparing to open Evermore Park in 2018, he said he aimed to re-create a European village of the 18th or early 19th century, one that “lends itself to the idea of fantasy and romance” and a “theatrical immersive entertainment” experience for visitors — with costumed actors, special effects and more.

“This is really the future of entertainment,” he told attendees at a 2018 real estate conference.

(Leah Hogsten | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Evermore, a theme park in Pleasant Grove with an old-Europe fantasy atmosphere, opened in September 2018.

Fugal — who is also owner of Skinwalker Ranch in Utah’s Uinta basin, a reputed hotspot for UFOs and paranormal activity that is the centerpiece of a History Channel reality series — said he felt “heartbroken” as an investor and friend that Evermore Park couldn’t succeed, but is excited for the next chapter.

Fugal owns 27 of the “unique old world structures” in the park, he said, including a mausoleum, a medieval pub and a Victorian confectionery.

Something new is coming to that space, Fugal said, without giving any details.

“As I evaluated the future positioning of this unique property, I started engaging several parties that are preparing to unveil exciting new plans for the project in the weeks to come,” Fugal said, adding that fans can be assured that the “special nature of the project will be preserved.”

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