When Walt Disney World opened its gates in 1971, it transformed Central Florida from a sleepy citrus area to a world-class tourist destination. Naturally, other attractions soon sprang up all around, seeking a piece of the tourist pie. For the area’s older attractions, owners hoped that the sudden spike in tourism would mean a boost in their own revenues.
In the first few years, business was good for everyone. However, as Disney opened new parks and entertainment options, many visitors began viewing it as a multi-day destination resort, and stopped venturing off property. As the ‘70s and ‘80s gave way to the ‘90s and beyond, many local venues simply couldn’t compete. Here is a look at 3 once-prominent, now closed, Central Florida attractions.
1. Six Gun Territory
Opened in Ocala in 1963, Six Gun Territory was one of Central Florida’s top tourist destinations. The 200-acre recreation of a Western town was the brainchild of R.B. Coburn, who had found success with the similar Ghost Town attraction in North Carolina. The meticulously recreated town included 40 buildings and even a faux mountain. Shootouts, bank robberies, and train ambushes happened multiple times per day. With a low admission fee, it was a popular spot for visitors of all ages.
By the time Disney came to Central Florida in 1971, however, times were changing. Once dominant in prime time television, Westerns were becoming passé. Ocala is an hour and a half from the Disney area, and visitors simply had no desire to make the trek to what they now considered an outdated attraction.
In 1984, Six Gun Territory closed for good. Many of its assets were moved or sold, while the rest of the site was bulldozed two years later, and eventually developed into a shopping plaza. A sad ending for a once must-do attraction, yet the legend lives on. A reunion is being held at the Kirby Family Farm in nearby Williston in September 2015. The event is open to the public, and will include meet and greets with some of the Six Gun Territory gunslingers and can-can girls.