STONE MOUNTAIN -- When Bill and Margaret Cartwright arrived at Stone Mountain Park on Friday to watch the Lasershow Spectacular, nieces and nephews in tow, each had a reserved seat waiting on the Virginia Terrace.
A $4.1 million restoration project has led to the creation of a new Lasershow experience -- VIP terrace seating. Guests now have the opportunity to reserve seating on one of the terrace levels, where popcorn and drinks are provided.
"You don't have to schlep the cooler and blankets and chairs and also the family. It's just kind of like your chair is waiting for you and if you've seen the Lasershow for the last 27 years this is definitely a new way to watch it," said Jeanine Jones, public relations manager for Stone Mountain Park. "It's really like a new experience."
The Virginia Terrace is one of 13 that surround the expanse of the park's Memorial Lawn, each named for one of the 13 original Confederate states in America and all constructed when the lawn area was first created in the 1970s. The terraces were built with the memorial aspect of Stone Mountain in mind: guests could observe the rock structure and the commemorative carving of three notable leaders of the Civil War era -- Confederate President Jefferson Davis and generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
Until recently, the granite-sided terraces had fallen by the wayside, the views obscured by trees and other vegetation. Memorial Lawn had become dotted with concession stands and production towers for the popular Lasershow attraction.
During the restoration project, sight lines from each of the terraces were restored, pavers replaced cracked concrete and walkways were widened to allow easy access to the terrace areas. Production towers and concession stands were relocated from Memorial Lawn to the surrounding woody areas and the park updated and improved its lighting.
For the Cartwrights, whose nieces and nephews were seeing the Lasershow for the first time Friday, the new terrace experience offered convenience.
"We don't have to lay our blanket down early, we can go ahead and have the tickets, sit here, you've got popcorn, Coke, don't have to drag everything in, you've got an elevated view," Margaret Cartwright said. "Made sense to me."
Beginning July 6, visitors can enjoy a casual dinner of fried chicken, barbecue pulled pork, potato salad, baked beans and beverages on one of the terraces every Friday evening.
The Lasershow Snack Package, which includes a reserved seat, unlimited popcorn and one drink is $10 plus tax. Prices for the dinner package will be announced before July 6. Reservations for VIP terrace seating can be made online at www.stonemountainpark.com or at the park.