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5 Ambitious Theme Parks That Took On Disney and FAILED

2. Pirates World

Pirates World

While Walt Disney was considering building a second theme park on the east coast, he held discussions with the Recreation Corporation of America. RCA, though, balked at the cost - and Disney ultimately went it alone with Walt Disney World.

RCA continued to look for a way into the theme park market, however, and developed its own park in Florida. The 100-acre Pirates World opened in 1967 in Dania - meaning that it actually opened some four years before the Magic Kingdom.

Pirates World (3)
Image: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Pirates World (4)

Image: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Pirates World (5)

Image: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Pirates World (6)

Image: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Pirates World (7)

Image: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Pirates World's attractions included The Crows Nest, an observation tower that had originally been the Belgian Aerial Tower at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair. Another highlight was the Pirate Ship, which cruised along a "river", coming under fire from enemy pirates. Elsewhere, a wild mouse-style roller coaster, a log flume (also acquired from the World's Fair) and various midway-style rides rounded out the line-up.

Pirates World (2)

Image via Lost Live Dead

Due to the RCA connection, several major bands (including Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) were attracted to perform concerts at Pirates World. It performed well initially, but the folly of RCA's decision not to collaborate with Disney soon became clear. The park struggled after the 1971 debut of the Magic Kingdom, and was forced into bankruptcy by 1973. It was eventually developed into housing.

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There are 9 comments.

I remember Circus World had painted concrete walkways that when freshly washed and wet in the morning were the slipperiest law suit waiting to happen ever.

I remember in 1982 Circus World let Disney employees in for free. Good marketing idea. Wooden coaster was a lot of fun and usually no wait. Also loved the chilli covered open faced burgers.

my first elephant ride was at Circus World 1977!

The place that was once Freedomland is now home to Co-Op City and Pelham Bay Park

The Heritage Square village that was left from Magic Mountain closed at the end of 2015.

I went to Freedomland with my family when I was a 10 year old kid. I remember they recruited kids to pump water from old time fire engines to put out the Great Chicago Fire.

I went to Circus World in 1980. Two things I remember vividly, the Roaring Tiger Rollercoaster, IT WAS AWSOME. My boyfriend and I ( now husband ) got to ride in the front seat multiple times and didn't even need to get off the ride. And the second, I got to walk the high wire. It was AMAZING, 30 feet off the ground walking a thin wire, the Circus Master announced you, where you were from like if you were a real performer. Of course you were all harnessed up but WOW. what an opportunity.

I've been to Heritage Square before - the last time I went was probably in the summer of 2014, and I have good memories of that place. I loved the Tilt-A-Whirl and the alpine slides. Unfortunately, the alpine slides closed after the 2015 season, and I'm a little bit bummed that I'm never going to get to ride them again, but there's nothing I can do about it anyway, you know? My family loved that place and I really hope I'll be able to go back sometime.

I've been to Circus World and Pirates World. We lived not too far from Pirates World. I was VERY young then. I only remember the crows nest. We went to Circus World one year while staying at the Contemporary resort at WDW. It was also the same visit we went to the new Wet & Wild. Good memories.


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