Ever since last October, Jennie Garvin has dreamed of the day when she could tell everyone in the world to "get lost."
Sadly, the head of the Eloy Chamber of Commerce now may never get her chance. Thanks to a labyrinth of problems, a Scottsdale developer has shelved plans to build a mammoth recreational maze called the WOOZ in that dusty farm town. (Billboards touting the moribund amusement park still dot I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson.)
"Naturally, we're disappointed," admits Garvin, explaining how citizens had looked forward to racing through the maze ever since the project was announced last fall.
"It would have been great for the town, a definite tourist draw, not to mention the entertainment it would have provided for the community," she says. "We've been really excited about it, especially when we heard that every month they can use a computer to reprogram the maze. It's not like this is something you do once and then you've done it."
Called WOOZ (an acronym for the inexplicably fanciful phrase Wild and Original Object with Zoom), the attraction was to have been the first American-owned franchise of Sun Creative System, a Japanese firm that operates mazes in Japan, Taiwan, and Vacaville, California. In the company-owned Vacaville labyrinth (set on a twelve-acre park fifty miles east of San Francisco), guests pay about five dollars to race through a circuitous mile-long path broken up by sections of seven-foot-tall redwood fences. A beat-the-clock game supposedly popular with kids, the WOOZ typically takes between forty minutes and an hour to navigate.
Guests also are encouraged to wend their way through their pocketbooks at other WOOZ attractions like the kiddie ball crawl, a giant water-balloon slingshot and the World of WOOZ gift shop.
For the time being, however, Eloy's 7,100 residents will have to make do with more prosaic pastimes--like watching sign painters cover WOOZ billboards, which have been up for almost a year.
"The people who were bringing it here pulled back their money until they could see the economy getting better," says Herb Tragethon, head of the Scottsdale-based Cowboy Land development company. "But what's happened is that the economy's gotten worse," he reports, but declines to identify those foreign investors. "For the time being, the franchise has been put on hold."
But according to WOOZ honchos, the Eloy maze is permanently lost in limbo. In the months since the Eloy deal fell through, the company has decided to get out of the franchise business.
"It's quite possible that Herb is building a maze," says Larry Friday, marketing manager at the Vacaville site. "He just can't build a