by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)
My grandparents moved from Indiana to Osprey, near Venice, in 1960. A few years later - in 1964 - Floridaland opened as one of the unusual tourist attractions in those pre-Disney days.
It tried to be all things to all tourists. Although the main entrance featured colorful tropical birds, the major attraction inside the gates was a western town similar to Six Gun Territory up in Silver Springs but more cheaply made.
Bad guys and good guys shot it out in the street, and can-can dancers strutted their stuff in the western saloon. Tourists could ride around the whole park on a tram dressed up as a western train.
In the park's attempt to be all things to all people, they featured a porpoise show. The marine creatures performed in a small pool with a platform where they were fed fishes.
Floridaland also had a petting zoo with typical farmyard animals.
Floridaland began to falter when they got some bad publicity about the death of several of their porpoises.
When Walt Disney World opened near Orlando in 1971, Floridaland was doomed to disappear. They folded their tent shortly after and became one of our lost Florida tourist attractions.