In 1966 Pirates World, an 87 acre buccaneer themed park, opened in Dania, Florida, on the north side of Sheridan Street, east of US 1. The park, developed by Recreation Corporation of America, had only skin deep theming but it offered some great rides.

Best of all was the steeplechase ride, said to be the original from Coney Island. Riders straddled molded horses and hung on to a metal "bit" as their horse traversed an undulating track designed to mimic a real jumping race.

The Crows Nest observation tower had been the Belgian Aerial Tower at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair (it, along with the log flume, was bought second hand after the fair). From a central post four metal cages, designed to carry several standing passengers, were hung by cables. To balance the structure two would be in the air while two were being loaded on the ground, then they'd be raised/lowered simultaneously.

Also on hand was a Wild Mouse roller coaster, a log flume, various carnival flat rides including a paratrooper, a sky ride, some carny games, a ski-ball arcade, spiral slides, and some pretty bad (as I recall) food.

Pirates World had been successful enough in its early years -- but then, in 1971, Walt Disney World opened and Florida tourism changed forever. Compared to the Magic Kingdom, Pirates World began to look quaint and old fashioned -- and dangerous, with concert problems developing a not entirely accurate bad reputation. By 1973 it was in bankruptcy. In 1975 it was closed.

In 1978 a biblical theme park was to have been developed on the site, but that shortly fell through. The land was sold, zoned residential, and the Watermark condominiums were built over the last traces of the park. Like the buccaneers before them, Pirates World was history.

(c) Copyright 1997-2005 by Robert H. Brown - From Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions