Route 66 News

Precious Moments park will close some attractions

The Joplin (Mo.) Globe reports today that the Precious Moments Inspiration Park, located in the Route 66 town of Carthage, Mo., announced it will close several attractions because of a steep decline in bus tours.

Among the attractions slated to close and likely won’t reopen are the Fountain of Angels, Wedding Island, an RV park and Super Sam’s Restaurant. The company says it instead will concentrate on “core operations,” including the Precious Moments Chapel.

Park attendance is down only about 1 percent, from 205,476 visitors through 2005, compared to 203,053 through Thursday in 2006.

But the number of motor-coach tours had dropped about 21 percent in the last year, while the number of tickets sold at the Fountain of Angels had declined by about 15 percent, according to information provided by the park.

“Our traffic historically consisted of bus tours and people driving in cars. The people in bus tours wanted sit-down meals and booked tickets to the Fountain of Angels,” Huwel said. “Those in cars wander the grounds, stop at the chapel and gift shop and leave. To eat, they would either want to just get a sandwich, or choose to go someplace else.”

In response to the changing patterns, Huwel said Precious Moments is shifting operations “to mark sure the parts of the park that are visited most often are well-maintained and supported.”

The Precious Moments park was created by Sam Butcher, who came up with the popular, angel-like child figurines during the 1970s. The park is not on Route 66, but it’s such a big attraction that it’s inextricably linked to the road.

My wife and I visited Precious Moments park a few years ago. I feel bad for the 11 full-time employees and 29 part-timers that will be laid off. But it struck me at the time that Sam Butcher’s park was way too sprawling for its own good. Does it really need two restaurants? And what red-blooded American male would want to get married at a Precious Moments Wedding Island?

Another problem is Precious Moments’ audience. By a wide margin, we were the youngest tourists at the complex. By our reckoning, most visitors are senior citizens, plus a small fraction who read the irreverent Roadside America and admire/mock Precious Moments for its tackiness and kitsch.

We didn’t see any Roadside America hipsters at Precious Moments the day we were there. That leads me to believe that the park’s audience is starting to die off, literally.


46 thoughts on “Precious Moments park will close some attractions

  1. Dave

    I think you’re right that most people who visit Precious Moments tend to be seniors.

    I’ve seen the Fountain of Angels light show and would miss that if it closes as it was a nice attraction (tho we visited with free tickets).

    To me, the Chapel is the real draw.. the mural paintings and the story behind them are incredible.

  2. Dawn

    Glad to have stumbled upon this info as I was puzzled about why I couldn’t find any Fountain of Angels info on the official PM site. I visited PM (including Fountain of Angels show) several years ago and am currently working on a fictional story set in PM. Gives me more to think about as I write…

  3. Anonymous

    Keri – January 25, 2007

    I just found out about the closing of PM Wedding Island by calling to speak to JoEtte, the wedding coordinator, and being informed that she no longer works there. The lady I spoke to told me the sad story of the cutbacks at PM. My husband and I held our dream wedding there in 2005 and were planning a trip back to see JoEtte before we have our little one who is due in April. My husband wasn’t too sure about getting married there when I first mentioned it, but we made a trip out to see the island and he knew it was the perfect place for our wedding. He thought it was absolutely beautiful and unique. We are very sad to hear that noone else will be able to have their fairytale wedding at the island. JoEtte was truly amazing and her heart belonged to that island. We are very fortunate that we were able to work with JoEtte and experience our dream wedding at PM Wedding Island.

  4. Kimberly Sears

    I visited both the Fountain of Angels and wedding Island and was in awe. I got married in 2005 here in Texas and then honeymooned in Disney World. The release of the Disney figurines definately caught our honeymoon. With being married 2 years now, my husband and I were looking forward to planning a trip and hitting the Fountain and Wedding Island. He’s only heard me speak of these a million times. I dreamed of the day he and I could be together and experience the glory of wedding island. I am very sad to hear these have closed

  5. marilyn

    My 5 year old grandaughter, myself and grandpa were so heartbroken and dissappointed to see cubby bear park closed down. we had planned this for a month. we stayed ther for the last 4 years and were very impressed. i could understand the fountain closing down, but to be able to stay close to the store and chapel, will be no more. needless to say we will not be coming back because it was a tradition with my grandaughter to go there twice a year and stay at cubby bear park, go shopping and buy her dolls and other merchandise at the shops. so sad , now we need to find another tradition.

  6. Cyndy

    My husband and I were married on the Wedding Island in 2000. I’m really very sad to find out that it is closed. The wedding coordinator was just an angel. She is really a special person. We always planned on returning there for our 10th anniversary, so now I guess we’ll make other plans.

  7. Heather

    I am 26 years old and visited the Precious Moments chapel about 6 months ago. I talked my boyfriend into stopping there on our way back to Oklahoma from Missouri. He’s not exactly the type of guy you would normally think of enjoying something like this.You know, one of those “red-blooded American male” types. However, he did. Except that he REALLY wanted to explore wedding island. I did as well. After seeing pictures of others tours, I can see how a fairytale wedding could be created there. My boyfriend also expressed interest in using it as a possible venue for our future wedding. Too bad we’ll never get to experience it for ourselves.

  8. Amy Adlebush

    I am 34 years old and love the Precious Moments Wedding Island, I was proposed to on May 16 1999 and was married down there September 14 2000. My husband and I worked together to set the arrangements with Joette, she was my maid of honor!!! I am very disappointed that they closed the island. I was hoping one day to bring my daughter and son there for a visit when they get older!!
    All that I can do now is say “Thanks for the memories!!!”

  9. -Wendi

    I am 34 years old, and my husband and I visited the Precious Moments chapel, as our last weekend together before his all expenese paid Goverment paid trip to Iraq. He is back now, and we thought it would be ideal to renew our vows at Wedding Island (our five year anniversary is next year), and I just learned on this site they are closed. I find it interesting there was a lack of interest, because so far everyone that has left a comment has been VERY interested!! Our prayers go to whomever wishes to see Wedding Island Reopen… We believe dreams can come true…

  10. Clint

    I visited Precious Moments SEVERAL time while traveling in the Midwest and am sad to hear of the many park attraction closings. I have on tape probably one of the LAST showings of the Fountain of Angels show which was truly stunning. In the background on the tape you can hear our kids oooing and awing to the lights and music. It was a truly magical show that we all miss so much.

    I hope the powers that be will read this and perhaps reconsider reopening the Fountain Of Angels for the next generation to ooo and awe over.

  11. Terry

    I got to visit the Precious Moments park only once with a friend a few years ago. Before the Fountain of Angels show, we saw Sam Butcher and asked for a picture and he asked one of the employees to take one of all three of us. This is a treasured picture. I am very sad to see it and Wedding Island closed, as they were definitely highlights which I was planning to see again this week….so sad, but I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to see the park at its peak. I hope there is renewed interest for the future to open these attractions.

  12. Jamie

    ever since the wedding island was created i always imagined a beautifull wedding there…i wonder if they will ever reopen that again…it would b incredable…

  13. Mayra Lugo

    Mayra – Orlando Florida – Jnauary 22,2009
    I just visited the Precious Moments Chapel and park. I never though I would have the opportunity to visit the chapel. The new park hours are from 9am to 4pm seven days a week. I could not beliebe how punctual they are with closing time, after going taking the tour I had no time to visit the gift shop. I was sad not to be able to buy something special for my 6 year old. Since ity os winter time, there was no vegetation sourrounding the premises, I look forward to be able to travel to Joplin, Mo sometime in the future and be able to visit the Precuious Moments Chapel.
    I have to agree that the park needs love and care, this may be due to the decline of visitors to the park. There is no fee to visit the chapel, they financially support the park by donations and gift shop sales.

  14. Priscilla

    April 26, 2009

    WOW! We are extremely shocked that the Precious Moments Wedding Island is closed. My husband and I married there in the year 2000. We were excited to start making our 10th year anniversary plans to come back. Very SADDENED to hear this news. This was certainly a beautiful, unique, fairytale dream wedding. Unlike no other. When showing my photos and video, people were amazed that there WAS such a place. To: SAM BUTCHER: Maybe Precious Moments couples should have a special advantage. This was indeed a Memorable Precious Moment Wedding.

  15. Terri Smith

    I was so sorry to hear the closeing of the best place to visit in Mo. Have been their twice and I still love it. I loved the R.V. park and so wanted to come again for a visit. So sorry for Mr. Butcher as he has put so much love in this place and in his paintings. I wish him all the best in years to come. And I hope some day soon it’ll open up again. That you for the memories.

  16. Melba

    I am so sorry to hear the fountain of angels has closed. We have seen it a couple of times and were planning on taking 3 of our grandchildren there next week to see it. We planned on going to the chapel and then to the fountain show. I am so disappointed that we won’t be able to show it to them. We enjoyed it so much when we saw it before. Please tell me it will be opened next week!!

  17. Letitia Mak

    I’m from Singapore and I;m planning to travel for 24 hours or more to visit the precious moments park and chapel. But I’m having second thoughts after reading about the closure of some the attractions in the park. I feel sad because I have been looking forward to make the long trip to see the beautiful park and chapel.

  18. Ron

    I think enough of the park is left to be worthwhile to still make your trip. The chapel will probably remain open indefinitely, and the park grounds are huge.

  19. Tonya

    While I am not a fan of Sam Butcher, creator of the Precious Moments figurines, I will second Ron’s comments. The chapel itself is worth seeing, and the tour will explain the thought process Butcher goes thru to create the figurines. You can still tour the grounds, see the chapel, visit the building that details how the figurines are made, and go to the gift shop. The parts that have closed (the wedding area, the campgrounds) aren’t really areas that you’d sight-see in the first place.

    Also while in Carthage, be sure to check out the Route 66 museum in the Jasper County Courthouse, visit the Powers Museum, and be sure to drive by the Route 66 Drive In Theater. Even in the daylight, their glass block ticket booth is something to see!

  20. Ashley Watson

    i visited my friend in carthage and we went to the precious moments chapel… although the chapel made us kinda sad….we were a little disracted by all of the FANNY PACKS! 🙂 anyways we were deff the youngest ones there (23 and 26) but still loved it… everything was done up real nice and the staff was super sweet! they were older as well… i would deff recommend stoping off at the p.p.c. if you are in the area! safe trip to all! p.s. the grounds are BEAUTIFUL!

  21. Jennifer R

    I was so sad to read all the entries about the Precious Moments Park Closings – I had no idea. My husband and I are from Oklahoma and for years when our 2 girls were young we would visit Branson in October and on our way home the Precious Moments Chapel was a stop we all looked forward too. November 2009 is my youngest daughter’s 19th birthday and she wanted a “girl’s day” to the Chapel – it appears there will be less to do instead of more. Like everyone else, I hope it will once again return to its grandeur.

  22. Alan

    I helped build the fountain,Did all the water effects control wiring,,Sad to see it is not going to remain open 🙁

  23. American Male Married At PM

    “And what red-blooded American male would want to get married at a Precious Moments Wedding Island?”

    As you can see….many. 😉

  24. Carol

    I didn’t realize the PM Fountain of Angels had been shut down until today when I ran across this blog. How sad. I am the one who programmed the fountain shows which so many of you enjoyed. The first one was programmed in 1997 and the second in 2001. It was such a joy to express my God-given creativity in a unique way. After all, how many people program water to music? Speaking of the music, each selection was hymn-based and arranged by Bob Krogstad. What a gifted man! The fountain show is the only one I’m aware of that was designed to glorify God Almighty. It’s sad to know the fountain lays silent today. I have so many memories of the years of labor that went into its design, constuction and programming. I’m glad so many of you were blessed by the shows.

    1. Alan

      Hi Carol,,I am The Alan from the above post and that was there with You, Mike and Bill while it was built and you did the programming,,It is Sad that it is not remaining open and it was such a beautiful testimony to God Almighty. It is a memory and experience I will never forget,,,I hope all is well with you Carol

  25. joanne

    I was just at the chapel and so sad so many thing had changed I have so many memorys of precious moments I was just 13 when I got my first figurine. I was so blessed to see the fountan as it grew first show was out side and the 2nd and 3rd time indoors. Yesterday I found the doors locked to the fountan and I was very sad. It was the 4 trip to the chaple and this time it made me very sad. to see the place losing what it had. I still love all my pecious moment each one has a meeaning to them. I got my grandaughter some for her birthday while we were there and hope to take her there again she way only 1 when she was there last and now she is 6. I also saw Sam in person for the first time this week and he looks great at 71 years of age sorry I was not able to talk to him. We were into the tour when he step in and said Hi to all of us there I looked for him yet did not see him later. Sam I love your work and am bless to have a peice of you in my home….. Joanne Minnesota

  26. Joette Blades

    My name is Joette and I was the only Wedding Coordinator at the Precious Moments Wedding Island for the 11 years that it was open. I still miss working there everyday. I want to thank all of you that posted such wonderful comments here about the Wedding Island and our weddings. Myself and the entire staff did everything from our hearts. I will never forget the first time that Mr. Butcher took me to the Wedding Island while it was still under construction. We went up into one of the unfinished honeymoon suites and looked out at the entire grounds. He said to me, “Joette, I just ask that you make every bride feel like she is in her own fairy tale.” The first time a bride said that to me I cried and I knew that he had created something very special. Again, thank you all for your kind words. It means the world to me.

    1. Kim Waguespack


      My husband and I were lucky enough to have you coordinate our wedding at the PM Wedding Island on September 20, 1997. The painting on the wall behind the altar was not yet complete. The Victorian house was not finished so we could not have our reception there or stay there for our honeymoon. Our photographer took a photo of me and my mother looking out the window of the bride’s house…what isn’t seen is all the construction equipment outside! Despite it being unfinished, we truly did have a magical wedding. We went back for our 5th wedding anniversary and it was wonderful to see it finished. I am saddened and heartbroken to hear that it has been closed. I had always hoped we could go back and have our vows renewed there.

    2. Terra

      My husband and I got married there in May 2003 and thought it was the most amazing experience. Thanks to Joette and all the staff for all their hard work. My father (who didn’t want me to take the whole family to another state just to get married) still talks about that day and how everyone made us all feel like royalty.

  27. Kim Waguespack

    I am sad to hear that The Fountain of Angels has been closed. I know it must have cost a lot to operate it with all the water it must have used. I visited several times and saw daytime and nighttime shows. The daytime shows were fun, with clowns; just a jolly kind of show. The nighttime shows were inspirational and moving. It is a shame that all those beautiful angels are locked away and unseen. I hope it and the wedding chapel will reopen someday.

  28. Christy Hanshew

    I am so glad to see Joette’s message here. Luckily I have a picture made with her in our wedding album. I was 46 years old, divorced and reunited with my high school sweetheart. We took his kids to see Precious Moments, and as we stood there listening to Sam Butcher’s story, my sweetheart leaned down and said, “This is where I want to get married”, and we did in 1999. We revisited the island in 2004 on our 5th anniversary and were able to walk around the wedding island completely undisturbed. I am so glad we made that visit, because I had no idea it would close. It amazes me it closed, because it was such a special place. I am deeply saddened, but also thrilled that I was one of the many who were lucky enough to be married there. It was a fairytale wedding and then to be able to have the island all to ourselves in that beautiful mansion. It’s a memory I’ll never forget and how pampered it made me feel. And Joette, you were fantastic in every way. It was the most wonderful experience in my life and a weekend I’ll never forget. I hope it re-opens someday, because this cynical world needs it.

  29. Joette Blades

    Tour of Life Ministries is now using the Wedding Island as a retreat center now for ministers. They are also starting to offer weddings. I would just suggest that brides check into the services carefully before making a decision. The directors are not experienced in weddings and they do not offer complete wedding packages at this time. Just look into this fully before making such a important choice.

    1. Rodney

      Joette and my fiance are looking into getting married on the island, well we were, but we were stood up by the coordinator, any recomendations?

  30. angelz

    I am still hoping to get married at the Island. Joette – Do you still coordinate weddings in your free time? 🙂

    I am not looking for much, as I too have rekindled a relationship with my high school sweetheart, and 22 years after we first met, we are getting married.

  31. Anonymous

    This news absolutely devastates me! I visted this park with my family two times as a young girl and my mom collected all of the figurines. My mother has since passed away and I was hoping one day to get married at the grounds to connect her to my wedding. Plus the grounds were absolutely beautiful when I was there. I hope something can be done in the future to reopen these grounds.

  32. Sandy

    I am from Connecticut and have visited PM several times on my treks to Branson and the western states. I was so upset to hear that the fountain of angels closed. I found such peace when I visited there and was amazed at the beauty of the entire park..I am planning a visit to Branson in the next year and hopefully will be able to visit the PM chapel.

  33. Jennifer Ayre

    My husband and I got married at the wedding island June 30, 2005. It was an amazing experience and Joette was phenomenal, as was the rest of her staff. I wonder if all the photos of past couples are still in the room inside the mansion. I love to think that they are, just as a token to show how much love and happiness happened there. I remember my cake topper fell straight through my cake because it was too heavy, my mom and I walked in to see this happen. Joette and the baker smiled took us by the hands and said “don’t worry, in 10 mins no one will ever know” we walked into the reception later that night and flowers adorned the top of the cake and everything wa perfect. Thank you for all the amazing memories!

  34. Jacqueline Griest

    My best friend from High School, now lives in Webb City. She took me to Precious Moments on two occasions when I had the opportunity to visit her. I live in Lancaster County, PA. I was in Missouri for my friends wedding. She wanted to show me some sites and took me to PM and I fell in love with the Chapel and Wedding Island. On my first visit, they did not yet have the Fountain. While there, I did write in one of the many memory books in the chapel. In that one I wrote about a good friend from church who had passed away. When I went to visit my friend again several years ago, they did have the fountain show and it was amazing. I loved Wedding Island and the show. At that time, I wrote in the memory book about the loss of my sister in 2001 to suicide. My father passed last year after a long illness. I am planning to take my mother to PM in November. I am so disappointed to hear that now half of the attracton is closed. I knew my mom would love seeing the beautiful grounds and the fountains. I had no idea till I was doing some research and discovered that the two of the three main attractions for me was now closed. I am now even more saddened to hear that PM has sold the area where Wedding Island was. It just won’t be the same.

    1. Laura

      My husband and I were planning on having our vows renewed at PM as it was where we went on our first date 11 years ago. I was very upset to learn that Wedding Island is closed.

  35. Mary

    I see no harm in having the island open for private affairs A rental fee would cover the cost. Same as a church rental.

  36. Mamaof6

    Our family has been to the Precious Moments Museum many times. In fact we are planning a vacation this year with our four teen daughters and that was one place they asked to go. So it’s not just for OLD people! 🙂 As I was doing research for our visit I found out the Fountain show was closed and we are disappointed, but we will still go!

  37. Larry

    So sad to read these blogs about the wedding chapel being closed and the fountain. We have been there three times and was planning our vacation there again this year taking our son and daughter and three granddaughters. Praying some day it will reopen to share with those who have so enjoyed it and those who would like to. Very inspirational and sharing of God’s majesty. Thankful for the videos of two of my visits.

  38. Clover Hocking Nuetzmann

    We drove by the private property on which the wedding island was located today. We were engaged there March 13, 1998 and married there June 20,1998. It was a wonderful, magical experience. We were so sad to see (from afar) the condition of the mansion and chapel. Abandoned and rotting. Property is all grown over with brush and trees. Doesn’t look like anyone has been there in years.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: