News Article

News Article

The Sad, Final Days of Florida's Miracle Strip Amusement Park

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First built in 1963 in Panama City, Florida, the Miracle Strip Amusement Park was a small park across the street from the beach, whose claim to fame was the Starliner wooden roller coaster, the first roller coaster in Florida and the only ride to have existed throughout the park's duration. The park was segregated until the late 1960s, which is about when expansion on the park started, and more rides were added throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The Miracle Strip Amusement Park closed in September 2004, due to waning attendance and increased expenses. Many of the existing rides were sold off to other amusement parks. Those that remained turned into the terrifyingly beautiful abandoned constructions you see here.

Dante's Inferno

Clearly, walking through the gaping maw of a lecherous cartoon demon is weird enough; add the ravages of time and disrepair, and it is enough to give you chills. When operational, Dante's Inferno was known for strobing lighting effects and loud music. Halfway through the ride, the car would stop and go in reverse.

The Haunted Castle

A campy haunted house attraction, this one featured scenes that included dismemberment, spiders, and the electrocution of a prison inmate. And of course, no campy attraction would be without lots of blacklight effects. After the park's closure, Halloween enthusiasts bought elements from the Haunted Castle to use in Halloween displays.

The Dungeon

The Dungeon was basically your standard Tilt-A-Whirl, but it was enclosed in a dome so that it could have lighting effects (strobe lights or sometimes complete darkness). It also had a spider theme, which included webs to walk through as you navigated a maze of tunnels to get to the ride itself.

The Abominable Snowman

Like many of the other rides, this one was a fairly standard "scrambler"-type ride. Built inside a dome, the air was smoky and chilled, and mirrors lined the walls, with music and lighting effects added once the ride got going. In order to enter the ride, guests had to walk between the legs of an Abominable Snowman, who now just looks like a mutant Smurf taking a dump.

Like all good horror movie villains, The Miracle Strip Amusement Park will be reborn as a smaller park nearby, called Miracle Strip @ Pier Park. The original Starliner roller coaster will be rebuilt, and many of the above rides will also be part of the new park - though it seems like they will be stripped of the campy extras that make it a fascinating relic.

All photos from Steve Sobczuk's Flickr page.

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