Thursday, June 09, 2016

Vintage Postcards - More Florida Attractions

Can you believe that today marks the 30th post featuring Ken Martinez's collection of vintage amusement park postcards? Wow! That's a lot of time and effort, and I am very appreciative. 

Let's get on to the cards and Ken's commentary:

More Florida Attractions

Last postcard article we visited Busch Gardens in Florida. This week's postcards will focus on the smaller and defunct parks from the Sunshine State.

Here we have the entrance to the world famous Gatorland in Orlando. It's fared much better than the Alligator Farm in Buena Park and it now has its own website and YouTube channel. It's also home of the Gator Gauntlet Zip Line in which you glide over alligator breeding pools. Yee-haw!

Marco Polo Park located near Daytona Beach opened at the end of 1970 with four theme areas related to Marco Polo's Travels; Turkey, India, China, Japan and Venice. Apparently tourists/travelers bypassed the park as they were more interested in continuing on to Walt Disney World which opened less than a year later. Marco Polo Park closed in 1976 for good. I assume that's Marco Polo in the sky gondola.

Pictured here is the amusement pier located on the Daytona Broadwalk. Nowadays it's called the Boardwalk, but I originally knew it as the Broadwalk when I was there in the late 1970's. Featured on the postcard are the Sky Lift and Space Needle. Talk about original ride names. The park management must've thought really hard on those.

Petticoat Junction was an amusement park located in Panama City Beach, Florida and it operated from 1968-1970. The main attraction was a steam locomotive that took passengers to a Ghost Town. The park also featured classic amusement park rides like the Tornado wooden roller caoster shown here. The park operated from 1973 to 1984.

Featured here is the Zoomerang Arrow loop coaster in which riders travel the loop of steel forwards and backwards. Located at Cirucs World in Haines City Florida, the site was originally the property of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus and was intended to be the circus's winter headquarters. The park also featured an IMAX theater featuring the film "Circus in America". Circus World closed in 1990.

So through the years only Gatorland and the Daytona Beach Boardwalk have survived. I hope you've enjoyed your vintage visit to Florida minus the Mouse.

Information Source material:
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko

Well, this was a fun one for me... I'd never heard of Petticoat Junction, or Marco Polo Park, and was unuaware of he amusement pier in Daytona Beach. It always makes me sad when I learn that some of these places only managed to survive a few years - think of the hopes and dreams and work that went into building them. Anyway, thanks as always to Ken Martinez for today's excellent post!


Nanook said...

The only park in this bunch I visited was Circus World. Oddly, I never made it to Gatorland - home to 'Gator Jumperoo'-!!

The other parks did look like fun.

Thanks, Ken.

TokyoMagic! said...

Note the flying elephant ride in the background of the Marco Polo Park postcard! They also had a spinning tea cup ride!

So Petticoat Junction had a little train that rolled down the the Junction? Could you forget about your cares and take time to the Junction? I'll stop there. I'm not showing my age, I'm just showing my love of classic TV theme songs.

Thanks for sharing more of your collection, Ken! And happy 30th, to you!

Pegleg Pete said...

Thanks for these, Ken and Major. The images certainly take me back to family roadtrips to WDW in the early to mid-1970s when I'd collect brochures for these places and then pester my parents to stop off at them. Alas, the only one I ever made it to among these was Daytona where one of my earliest memories is of being encaged in one of those miniature ferris wheels for children and screaming my head off for three minutes. I was unpleasantly reminded of that experience the first time I rode the (then) Sun Wheel at California Adventure. I had a schoolfriend who'd been to Marco Poolo Land and swore that he had a poster map – but, much to my disappointment, he never was able to produce it when I asked.

Scott Lane said...

The only one of these that I did get to was Gatorland. Must have been about '73. (I was 10) I don't remember much except walking through those Jaws on the way in.....and thinking that that had been the coolest part of the whole place on the way out. I was underwhelmed and a bit creeped out, I guess. I do remember watching a man "wrestle" a gator and wondering about his sanity.

TokyoMagic: I wonder if Uncle Joe's still in that rocking chair on the porch, "movin' kinda slow".

swafun said...

It's alright Tokyo...I'm right along with you! "...and there's Uncle Joe, he's a-movin' kind a-slow at the Junction..." 😉

Chuck said...

As a teenager, I was always attracted to the curves referenced in the theme song, but now my eye is drawn to the Hooterville Cannonball, portrayed in the credits by none other than the venerable Sierra Railroad #3. In my opinion, that's one title sequence that actually suffered from the transition from B&W to color - I prefer the closer, low-angle, B&W shots of the locomotive.

Is that a diving bell on the Broadwalk?

Unknown said...

Great material, Ken. Thanks for the info and the always welcome variety.

It looks like the Tornado is pictured taking a load of lovely young women up for some thrills. Boy I'd like to wait for them all at the exit so I could meet them all. Or shuffle my feet and look at the ground out of shyness. Either way, good fun!

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, Glad you enjoyed. I only made it to Gatorland and the Broadwalk, the only parks still surviving today. My favorite thing about the Broadwalk was Beach Street which was literally the beach used as an official street with parked vehicles on two sides and cars driving atop the hard sand right down the center (cruising). This was sometime around 1978 or 1979 I saw this. I have a lot of good memories of Daytona Beach.

Tokyo Magic!, I was perusing your blog the other day and noticed you did an article on Marco Polo already. Nice article! And yeah, I remember that Petticoat Junction theme song. The song was playing in my head the entire time I was typing this article.

Pegleg Pete, I was sort of going for a reminiscence of those family road trips to Florida before the Mouse dominated the region. There were so many amusement parks and roadside attractions to see in Florida that I had to pick and choose what I truly wanted to see back then.

Scott Lane, I too wondered about the sanity of the gator “wrestlers”. Still, I love odd little roadside attractions like this that dot the United States landscape. They possess a strangeness (creep factor) and charm that the larger corporate theme parks can’t duplicate. That’s why I love attractions like this.

Chuck, I’m totally with you on the closer low angle shots of the locomotive in the B&W credits for Petticoat Junction. It doesn’t have the same impact in color. So where do you see this diving bell? Perhaps I’m overlooking something?

Patrick Devlin, Glad you enjoyed. The Tornado coaster postcard is my favorite in this set. It screams summertime fun! I often wondered if this postcard photo was totally staged because the coaster train is completely filled with very attractive young women.

Chuck said...

Ken, I didn't have my glasses on and completely misjudged the scale. I thought that the grey speaker tower at the terminus of the Sky Lift was a much larger structure in the distance and the light hanging from it might be a pod of some kind. I feel kind of silly now. Which is how I usually feel, so no worries.

Nancy said...

Sorry I missed posting on this one, Ken. Thanks as always for the fun look at places I will (probably and certainly) never get to see.

I love the Gatorland entrance. The folks coming out certainly seem to have had a fun time judging from those smiles!

Love the Zoomerang, which reminds me of Kennywood's Laser Loop back in the day. Loved that one :)

As Major said, so many places of this sort to visit. You never realize how many there really are till you see a time capsule like this one. Thanks for sharing them with us! :)