Pirates World

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Pirates World
Location Dania, Florida, U.S.
Owner Recreation Corporation of America
Opened 1967[1]
Closed 1975
Area 78 acres (0.32 km2)[1]
Total 15+
Roller coasters 2
Water rides 2 (log flume & pirate ship)

Closing date confirmed by Johnathan H. Grandage, Archives Historian

State Library and Archives of Florida

500 S. Bronough St.

Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250

Pirates World was an 100-acre (0.40 km2) pirate-themed amusement park in Dania, Florida that opened April 8, 1967.[1] Developed by Recreation Corporation of America, it was located on the north side of Sheridan Avenue, east of US 1.

The park featured "The Crows Nest" observation tower, which had originally "been the Belgian Aerial Tower at the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair".[2] This structure "was bought second hand after the fair" and transported to the site, where it was re-erected.[2] It consisted of a central post from which was suspended four metal cages by cables, designed "to carry several standing passengers." "To balance the structure, two [cages] would be in the air while two were being loaded on the ground," and the cages would be raised and lowered simultaneously.[2]

Another feature was the pirate ship ride - an actual life-sized pirate ship. The ship, piloted by park personnel, cruised along a "river" through a barrage of cannon fire and "enemy" pirates shooting at the ship, while the pirates that were aboard the ship were firing back at them, protecting their passengers from harm.

Also at Pirates World was the "Grand National Steeplechase," which was originally from Coney Island,[3] along with a Wild Mouse roller coaster, a log flume (also bought second-hand from the New York World Fair), "various carnival flat rides including a paratrooper, a sky ride, some carny games, a skee-ball arcade, (and) spiral slides."[2]

In the late-1960s and early-1970s, Pirates World was the venue for several rock music concerts, playing host to such artists as Jeff Beck Group (1969), Led Zeppelin (1969, 1971[4]), Iron Butterfly (1970), The Faces (1970,1971[4]), The Grateful Dead (1970), Traffic (1970), Black Sabbath (1971), Blood, Sweat, and Tears (1971), Deep Purple (1971), Jethro Tull (1971), Grand Funk Railroad (1971), Steve Miller Band (1971), The Guess Who (1971), The Moody Blues (1971), Three Dog Night (1971), David Bowie (1972), The Doors (1972),[5] Wishbone Ash (1973), Santana (1973), Alice Cooper (1973), and The Beach Boys (1973). The Johnny Winter album Live Johnny Winter And (1971) was a live album partly recorded at Pirates World in fall 1970. It was not uncommon for crowd control problems to break out at some of these concerts.[2] In March 1971, police clashed with concert goers at a Grand Funk Railroad concert. Eleven people were arrested and two policemen were injured.[6]

Over the years, several film and television programs were also filmed on the site, including Jack and the Beanstalk (1970), Thumbelina (1970), Musical Mutiny (1970) and Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)[7]

Pirates World was successful in its early years, but in 1971 Walt Disney World opened in Florida, which took much business away from the theme park. By 1973 it was in bankruptcy and finally closed its doors in 1975.[2] Norman Kaufman, a venturing carnival rides owner back in Coney Island, bought some of the steeplechase's fiberglass horses and eventually gave one of them to the "Coney Island, USA" museum more than 20 years later. The fate of the others is unknown.

In 1978, a biblical theme park was to have been developed on the site, but that fell through. The land was sold, zoned residential and condominiums were built over the last traces of the park.[2]

There were amusement park games owned and run by Cindy and Joe Dickman along with the petting zoo and seal pond. Members of the Miami Dolphins played the Football Toss. There was also a shooting gallery. The games at Pirates World were a Hi-Striker, Tip the Cats, Tic Tac Toe, ring toss, Football Toss, Can Can and a Watergun game. The petting zoo had an elephant (in 1972 there were deer instead as the elephant had grown too large for the enclosure) and a seal pond where one could feed fish to the seals.


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