VINITA, Okla. — Behind a backdrop of a small shower of firework sparkles, Heartland Theme Park and Resort officials broke ground for the first phase of the $2 billion Disneyland-like theme park.

Three Ponies RV Park and Campground hosted dignitaries on Monday morning as theme park officials hosted a ground-breaking ceremony.

“Today is the shared journey,” said Kristy Adams, Mansion Entertainment Group Sr. Exec. VP Sales and Marketing.

The more than $100-million project will create more than 300 jobs.   

Adams said the journey with northeast Oklahomans will attract visitors across the country to Oklahoma.

“Today’s groundbreaking marked a pivotal moment for Vinita and the entire northeast Oklahoma region,” said Vinita Mayor Josh Lee. “It is a statement of our commitment to enhancing the quality of life for every resident and visitor. Three Ponies RV Park and Campground will be a place where memories are made, families come together, and the beauty of our region is celebrated.”

The RV park will feature a clubhouse with a snack bar, a general store, swimming pools, multipurpose trails and a dog park. 

The clubhouse will include a café and snack bar with indoor and outdoor dining service as well as pick-up and swim-up service options from the pool. 

The recreation building will house a restaurant serving lunch and dinner, a fitness room, an arcade, and a game room with pool and foosball. 

The general store will offer all types of camping provisions including easy-to-prepare food, snacks, drinks, a coffee bar and supplies. Amenities include a dog park and dog-friendly hiking trails. 

“Tourism is the third-largest industry in Oklahoma which generated a record-breaking $10.1 billion in direct visitor travel spending in 2021,” said Shelly Zumwalt, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Executive Director.

Three Ponies will be a welcome addition to northeast Oklahoma, increasing employment numbers and benefiting local economies, she said.

“The location along the historic Route 66 will inspire travelers from all over the world to visit. As we continue to add top-tier tourism destinations, we expand the opportunity to highlight the best of what Oklahoma has to offer,” Zumwalt said.

With the first turn of dirt Crossland Construction is turning 320 acres into the largest campground in the region, Adams said.

The RV park will house 750 RV spaces and 300 cabins.

Earlier this month, the Vinita City Council approved by a 7-1 vote to annex six square miles near the proposed $2 billion theme park and resort site being built east of town. Ward 1 City Councilwoman Stephanie Hoskin cast the lone nay vote.

American Heartland Theme Park and Resort is a 125-acre theme park located on Route 66 built like Magic Kingdom Theme Park and Disneyland Park. The proposed theme park is expected to feature rides, live shows, family attractions, waterways and restaurants, a 300-room hotel and an indoor water park.

On hand for the ceremony were State Rep. Rusty Cornwell, State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, American Heartland Founder Gene Bicknell, American Heartland President Larry Wilhite, American Heartland Founder Producer of Project Development Steve Hedrick and American Heartland Director of Acquisitions.

The theme park is a project under Branson-based Mansion Entertainment.