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Old West comes alive: Old Tucson movie sets

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Celebrate summer by visiting Old Tucson’s Mescal set for the last day of the season. Come see the movie set on Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1, 2014 for guided tours beginning hourly from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Cost is $10 per person – cash only. There are no restrooms or other convenience facilities at Mescal.

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Tip: If you go bring water and a hat.

Directions to Mescal: From Tucson, follow I-10 East. Take exit 297 for J-Six Ranch Rd toward Mescal Rd. Turn left onto South J-Six Ranch Rd (signs for Mescal Rd). Continue onto N. Mescal Rd (dirt road). Turn left into driveway for Mescal.

Historic Highlights: Originating way back in 1938, Old Tucson was built as a film set to resemble an adobe town from 1860, specifically for the film "Arizona." Depression-era workers made 350,000 mud blocks and 50 building in 40 days. Old Tucson opened as a tourist attraction theme park in 1960.

From 1970 to 1980 Old Tucson and its Mescal property hosted 77 film and television productions. Little House on the Prairie (1977-1983) starring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert and Karen Grassel; Old Tucson and Mescal home as well as Gunsmoke (1972-74) with James Arness; The Mark of Zorro (1974) featuring Ricardo Montalban.

Some of the western films became classics and there is a new surge of interest in the Old West. Many people consider Tombstone (1993) with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer the best western of all time. With the success of The Quick and the Dead (1994) with Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, sales showed that westerns were popular again.

Don’t miss a chance to experience the Old West yourself as it is seen on television and in the movies. There is much to see in this theme park that continues to grow during the winter tourist season in Arizona.

Unfortunately at the end of May Old Tucson is closed to the general public for the summer season but is open for private and corporate events. It will re-open beginning Friday, October 4, 2014 on weekends. Operating hours will be Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. For more information on group events call 520-883-0100 Ext. 261.

Directions from Interstate 10: Take Exit 257-Speedway Blvd and head west following signs to Old Tucson.

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