We visited Old Tucson in Arizona and were pleasantly surprised. It was a fun way to spend the morning and learn about Western film history in America.
Sadly due to COVID-19 Old Tucson has closed. I will update as things change.
Old Tucson in Tucson, Arizona is a working movie studio that, to this day, films western movies and TV shows. It has filmed over 400 movies including The Three Amigos, Young Guns II and Tombstone.
We added a visit to Old Tucson during our Southwest Road trip earlier this year. It was a fun place to show the kids part of American film history and learn more about how a film studio works.
Arizona is hot most times of the year and there is little shade at Old Tucson. When visiting be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and drink plenty of water during your visit.
Outside food and drink are not permitted inside the park but you can bring a refillable water bottle to use on your visit. Old Tucson is open year round but may close for special events. Always check the website before you book tickets.
Things You Must Do at Old Tucson with Kids
Take Time to Discover the Movie History of Old Tucson
One of the things my husband and I were most excited for was to learn more about the movies that were filmed at Old Tucson. The kids didn’t really know much about them and didn’t really know what they were walking into but enjoyed the atmosphere of stepping into the Wild West.
We started our visit walking through the buildings and discovering the many movies that were filmed on location here. This is where we saw pictures of The Three Amigos.
The kids hadn’t seen the movie at this point but I showed them a video clip on our drive to Old Tucson. This helped them become a bit familiar with the characters. As we walked the grounds we encountered many people dressed in character to talk and interact with.
We also participated in the Film History Tour. This takes you through Old Tucson stopping at memorable film scenes through the tour.
Two things really stood out to me during the tour. First the tour guide was very knowledgeable and had even been on location during some of the filming. This was really cool to hear a first person take of being their during filming.
Second they were very accommodating to children. The tour is not particularly kid friendly, but the guide was welcoming to the kids and also explained that the kids could step away or leave the tour at any time. I really appreciated this as a parent.
Eat at Big Jake’s BBQ
We were visiting during lunch time and were excited to try Big Jake’s BBQ. Big Jake’s is cafeteria style. You pick up a tray and go through the line decidied on delicious options like Pulled Pork, BBQ Ribs, and sides.
There is indoor seating and plenty of tables for families. The food was good and everyone found something they liked.
There are other dining options at Old Tucson including The Pony Express Pizza, Grand Palace Saloon, 3 Amigos, La Plaza Ice Cream, and The Elixir Rx.
Family Fun Attractions at Old Tucson
Old Tucson has family fun attractions to keep kids entertained during their visit. We enjoyed the Antique Cars and had fun riding the train through the grounds.
Some of the attractions are included in your admission price and others require an additional fee. We didn’t do any of the add on activities and found there was enough to do with the included attractions.
Attractions at Old Tucson:
- Antique Cars
- C.P. Huntington Train
- Wild West Carousel
- Iron Door Mine Adventure
- Shelton Hall Movie Museum
- Outlaw Zipline (Additional Charge)
- Pan for Gold (Additional Charge)
- Horse Trail Rides (Additional Charge)
- Dead Eye Dan’s Shooting Gallery (Additional Charge)
- Old West Stage Coach Rides (Additional Charge)
- Countdown to the Gallows Escape Room (Additional Charge)
Learn more about pricing for extra activities here.
Watch a Live Show at Old Tucson
Old Tucson makes you feel like you have stepped into the Wild West. There are indoor shows at the Saloon as well as interactive living history presentations throughout the park.
They also have outdoor stunt shows that vary depending on the time of year you visit. We saw a story about a hanging and it was a bit intense for kids.
Obviously we had an idea of this going in and prepared our kids for what to expect but I would research a bit about the shows if you have younger kids. It can be a bit scary.
Recently when I looked at the website they had a Hollywood Stunt Show that looked great for families. The actors and cast of the shows do a really great job staying in character and interacting with you.
That brings me to one of our favorite things to do at Old Tucson.
Interact with the Characters Around Town
Old Tucson is full of characters from the days of the Wild West and they are walking around during your visit. This is not only during the shows. You can find characters inside the stores and even in the restaurants.
I suggest having fun with it and playing along. You can have a really unique and fun experience, and the kids thought it was hilarious.
If you are visiting Tucson, Arizona I suggest adding Old Tucson to your itinerary. It is a fun and unique family attraction that we would definelty visit again.
Read Next: 24 Hours in Tucson: A Family Itinerary
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Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.