Six Gun Territory
by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)
Six Gun Territory in Ocala, Florida, was a very popular attraction in the days before Walt Disney World.
This western themed Florida tourist attraction opened in February 1963, and entertained tourists for 20 years. A trip to Ocala for many tourists included some time spent both at Six Gun and at Silver Springs down the road.
An aerial skyride similar to the one that would eventually show up at Walt Disney World carried guests from the main entrance into the heart of the old west town.
Tourists were entertained by simulated gun fights and attractive female can-can dancers. It was truly like a visit to the imaginary Old West that lived in our minds. There were also realistic Indian and Mexican villages along with several carnival type rides.
A little train meandered around the park, and bad guys were always trying to hold it up. Bad guys were also robbing banks, and there were lots of shootouts between the bad guys and the good guys.
The town had a courthouse, a couple of saloons, an Old West hotel, a jail, a school house, a church and a Morrison's cafeteria to feed the hungry tourists.
The buildings themselves were the real thing, not just a store front like you see in many theme parks. A trip to Six Gun was like a history lesson. The architecture and construction looked like what we imagined the Old West really looked like.
A couple of things would not bode well for the future of Six Gun Territory. Walt Disney World would open a few years later in October 1971; and the popularity of western TV series began to decline.
The poor attraction hung on for a few years, and finally the buildings were deserted and it became a run down ghost town on the north side of SR-40 as you drove into Ocala from the National Forest to the east.
The ruins were demolished and removed in 1986, and a shopping center and residential development took their place.
An excellent article by Rick Allen of the Associated Press appeared in the January 10, 2011 Orlando Sentinel. He covers Six Gun's history in great detail, and features several interviews with former guests and employees.