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Marco Polo Park (AKA Passport to Fun World) was a theme park located just west of Interstate 95 between Jacksonvillemarker and Daytona Beachmarker near Bunnell, at Exit 278 in Flagler County, Floridamarker. The park's theme was based on Marco Polo's 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.

History

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 "The Climatronmarker", 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 high waterfall.From the roof, visitors would be able to look down upon a variety of exhibits including a Japanese garden, a Black Forestmarker garden, 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 . 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 Worldmarker 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.

Lands and rides

An overhead suspended gondola system linked various parts of the park.

Venice

The entrances to the ticket booths and into the park were through an elaborate Venetian-style entrance arch.

A steam train with two passenger cabs ran around the perimeter of the park.

Replica Model Ts moved along a guided track through the woods.

Turkey

Flying Chairs Ride

Twin Bumper Cars Rides 1 Adult-1 Kids

India

Log Flume

Flying Elephant Ride

China

Spinning Tea Cup Ride

Japan

Ferris wheel

References

  • "Daytona Beach Plans a 'Tivoli Gardens' of Its Own," The New York Times, February 5, 1967


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