Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Marco Polo Train

This is the original steam engine used at Marco Polo Park, now on display in Arkansas
35 0-4-0T 600mm Buescher & Sohn ES&NA Railway, Eureka Springs, AR display from Marco Polo Park, Bunnell, FL, bankrupt since 1975


Marco Polo Park (AKA Passport to Fun World) was a theme park located just west of Interstate 95 between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach near Bunnell, at Exit 278 in Flagler County Florida. The park's theme was based on Marco Polo legendary travels through Europe and the Far East. The brochure provided at the park's entrance described it as such, "Like Marco Polo himself, you will be wonderstruck at the authentic Oriental splendor of your personal voyage of discovery as you journey into the exotic four worlds of the Far East, Turkey, India, China, Japan and beautiful Venice, your port of embarkation." The park featured rides, puppet shows, multimedia shows, and other attractions.

The park was first envisioned in 1967 as a novel family recreation center. The central feature was to be a 12-story building as long as a football field. Dubbed Climatron, it was to contain horticultural exhibits from regions as diverse as the Arctic and the Equator, with each display occupying a floor climatically simulating the native environment of the plants. The glass walls of the building would be hidden by trees, plants, flowers and a 90-foot high waterfall. From the roof, visitors would be able to look down upon a variety of exhibits including a Japanese garden, a Black Forest, a storybook forest, a grand bazaar and various scientific laboratories. Opening day was proposed for the Autumn of 1968. The Climatron was never built.
The first phase of the park was completed and opened in early 1971. The Japanese gardens covered about 500 of the park's 5,000 acres. It included a replica of a Japanese fishing village, a Japanese botanical garden and a mile long waterway spanned by oriental bridges. Eighteen sampans, made of teakwood imported from Japan, carried visitors along the waterway. Two restaurants served tempura style dishes. There were also a number of souvenir shops which sold a variety of Japanese-themed items. A year's admission to the park cost $2 for adults and $1 for children until April 1, 1971 when the cost for adults was raised to $2.50. The park opened to considerable fanfare but it was never profitable. Other lands which Marco Polo would have visited were added. In 1975 the park closed after two fires ravaged the property just eight days apart. The park briefly reopened that year renamed Passport to Fun World, keeping the world travel theme. It closed for good in 1976. The remaining equipment was sold at auction on March 14, 1978. No structures from the former park remain. The road crossing I-95 leading to the park entrance, once renamed Marco Polo Park Boulevard, reverted back to Old Dixie Highway. The community of Plantation Bay now occupies the site of the former park.
The park undoubtedly suffered from the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando in October 1971. It was a difficult sell getting people to stop at a lesser attraction along the way to the Disney park.

Day 1

On my 50th birthday I was reminising about some of the fun times I had as a child.
One of those times was my first and only visit to Marco Polo Park, near Bunnell in Florida!
Even today as I drive down I-95 I faithfully point out it's former location.
For some reason the Chinese Dragon stays in my head.
Please feel free to submit ANY pictures, or home video's of your visit to Marco Polo Park!