Old Florida: What Were the Big Attractions?

By: Gary McKechnie

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If you were one of the fortunate few who lived in Florida when theme parks were far in the future, you may recall some classic attractions that are now just a distant memory.

For no other reason than to reminisce and to share you with you some fun and fascinating sites that pay tribute to these classic attractions, I wonder if any of you recall the places I remember…

I grew up in Maitland, and for us the furthest we traveled for an attraction was Ocala to see Six Gun Territory (which I always thought was cool because they had an autographed picture of Dan Blocker, who played ‘Hoss’ on Bonanza). But on the way there along Highway 441 I remember there were also billboards that announced that we could ‘SEE! Big Sam, the World’s Largest Bull!’ and ‘SEE! The Amazing Walking Catfish!’ (who wore tuxedoes and carried walking sticks) and that was almost as exciting for me. We never did stop, though, because there was a shootout waiting for us at Six Gun Territory.

But in Kissimmee, there was ‘Xanadu, Home of the Future’, and somewhere near Daytona Beach, I think, was Marco Polo Park (which my mom and brothers enjoyed almost completely withoug any other guests which may explain why it didn’t last long). And our family went to Rainbow Springs near Dunnellon, and Circus World in Haines City, and I’ve heard of Webb’s City in St. Pete and there was even a place called ‘Storyland’ near Pompano Beach.

If you love Old Florida, you can re-visit our past at a great site called ‘Florida’s Lost Tourist Attractions’ which includes pictures and stories of these and dozen of other parks that made growing up in Florida a unique and, obviously unforgettable, experience. And on facebook, there’s a wonderful site called, believe it or not, Old Florida.

I think we had a good thing going.

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