As the summer slowly comes to an end and the Learning from Miami road trip makes its way south, we visit several of the gone but not forgotten roadside tourists attractions throughout Broward. Long before Mickey Mouse and his gang delighted visitors at the Walt Disney World Resort, which opened in October 1971, locals and tourists, both young and old, enjoyed many themed amusement parks off of the highway.
Jungle Queen Riverboat, Fort Lauderdale, circa 1936
Still in operation, the Jungle Queen is an old-fashioned double-decker riverboat that takes tourists on a five and a half mile course down the New River. Originally conceived as a sightseeing trip with four boats, in 1960 the present riverboat was introduced and seats up to 550 passengers. Visitors can choose either a three-hour day cruise or a four-hour all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner featuring live shows. The boat ride ends at the Jungle Queen Indian Village, a four-acre “secret island” with refreshments, caged animals, Seminoles selling crafts, and alligator wrestling shows.
Storyland Park, Pompano Beach, November 1955 – 1964
Demolished in 1964, Storyland Park was a $1.5 million fairy tale and nursery rhyme themed kiddieland consisting of 38 buildings on over 14 acres.
Ocean World, Fort Lauderdale, 1965 – 1994
Ocean World was a marine theme park featuring animals, tropical birds, fish, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and California sea lions. It was home to the famous “The Flying Dolphin Show.” The park closed down in August 1994 due to low attendance and lack of space for potential expansion.
Pirates World, Dania Beach, 1966-1975
Pirates World was an 87-acre buccaneer-themed park that inlcuded a Wild Mouse roller coaster, a log flume, and carnival games. Concerts also attracted large crowds to the park with headliners such as Led Zeppelin (1969), The Grateful Dead (1970), Fleetwood Mac (1972), and Chicago (1973). After Disney World opened, park attendance declined which subsequently led to the park shutting down in 1975.
Pioneer City, Davie, 1966 – February 1968
A theme park modeled after the American Old West, Pioneer City opened in rural Davie in 1966. Visitors enjoyed stagecoach rides, saloons, and staged gunfights at high noon with cowboy actors. Poor management under millionaire Myron M. “Mike” Weiss, Sr. would lead to the park’s closing in less than two years.