Marco Polo Park

by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)

Marco Polo Park Poster From The 1970s

Marco Polo Park Poster From The 1970s

Shortly before Walt Disney World opened in October 1971, I began to notice construction of a new theme park on the west side of I-95 north of Ormond and Daytona. It was Marco Polo Park, and I believe it opened a few months before Disney.


The developers of this park were probably counting on snaring some of the visitors traveling down I-95 on their way to Walt Disney World.

All parks were themed in those days, and this park's theme was based on Marco Polo's legendary travels through Europe and the Far East many hundreds of years ago.

I took my kids there and it was a lot of fun. The park had rides, movies, music, puppet shows and a lot of other attractions. A little steam train ran around the perimeter of the park.

Marco Polo Park pioneered what Disney would do years later with Epcot. The park had various "worlds": Turkey, India, China, Japan and Venice. Ethnic food was served in a couple of restaurants.

The first phase was opened in early 1971. The Japanese gardens had several sampans made of teak that carried visitors along an artificial waterway and under ornate oriental themed bridges.

The park cost only about $2 or $3 for adult admission, something less for the kids.

Alas, most of the tourists the developers hoped to snare on their way to Walt Disney World drove right on by and didn't spend their bucks at Marco Polo.

Marco Polo Park closed in 1975 after a couple of bad fires did a lot of damage. It opened again later that year, but under the name "Passport To Fun". That didn't work either, and the attraction closed for the last time in 1976.

These days you can't see a trace of it from I-95. There is a residential community on the property now.

Comments for Marco Polo Park

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Jul 11, 2016
Memories of Tearing it Down
by: Anonymous

I worked for a company in the late 70s and early 80s and I came down to Florida to Marco Polo Park and helped bring it back to Cambridge Ohio where it became part of Paradise Lake.

Jun 20, 2016
Decal
by: Steve

Went there when I was eight years old. Now I'm 54. Was going through some old boxes and found an old decal that's still in package and in good shape. Imagine that!

May 31, 2016
I Worked in the Puppet Theatre
by: Anonymous

Was my first summer job fresh out of H.S. and ready for adventure after moving to Daytona :) Still have friends from those days and 41 years later I married my best friend, he was one of the puppeteers.

Mar 05, 2016
Costumed Characters
by: Anonymous

My brother worked there. He was in a donkey costume. Very apt, lol. I also went there on a double date.

Sep 25, 2015
Best Childhood Summer
by: Kerry Thorn Hanson

I love this park! My mom worked there and we were able to play before it opened. Many of the ads have pics of me and my sister. The Skyway was my grandfather's favorite, he would ride it all day. I loved the swings the most, it was like flying. The films and Dragon ride were close seconds. The centrifugal force ride was not a favorite but rode anyway. I loved the strawberry icee..yum. MOP was a lovely and fun family park. I treasure my time there and all the memories. Thanks.

Sep 08, 2015
Missing Camp ground
by: Anonymous

We camped at a nice camp ground near there in 1976. I can't recall if was a Yogi Bear or other camp ground. It was a beautiful place. I do recall old amusement park rides across the street lying on the ground. They were mostly covered by vegetation at that point. We've lost all our pictures of that vacation. Such wonderful memories. Does anyone recall this campground ? Did it go out of business? If so, When ?

Aug 31, 2015
Loved this park!
by: AnonymousJacqui

My grandparents lived in Daytona and we lived in Jacksonville. We would spend time with them in the summer, and one year they took us to the park. I remember and still think of it today. It was a fun place. Lots to do and a really beautiful atmosphere, and the e price was right!

Wish it was still here today, Disney has out-priced a lot of people ever being able to visit.

FLORIDA BACKROADS TRAVEL SAYS:

Jacqui, I agree with you and wish there were more affordable attractions in Florida. I worked on the construction of Walt Disney World and used to enjoy taking the kids there in the early days. Just a couple of years I took myself, two kids and two grandkids there and it cost more than $400 just to get in. Who can afford that?

Apr 22, 2015
Loved this park!
by: Anonymous

They had the best log ride! You could guarantee that you would get soaked. We went a lot-even when we were on the way to Disney, and sometimes when we couldn't afford to go to Disney. For many years after it closed I looked for remnants of the park until finally you couldn't see anything anymore. The closest thing to it now is Wild Adventures in Valdosta.

Oct 22, 2014
Nearby Animal Land
by: Rob from Monroe, CT

My parents never took us to Marco Polo Park, proclaiming it to be a big fat ripoff. But one place they DID take the four of us kids to was Animal Land. The short-lived Animal Land was on A1A in the area of Palm Coast that is called The Hammock. It was wonderful. It was this big outdoor animal preserve with roads through it. The animals wandered around behind great big cyclone fences and we would ride these open-air safari wagons. Alas, it seemed it was open for less than a year. The main building became the Palm Coast offices.

Apr 26, 2014
MEMORIES
by: nan

I went there on a school trip. i think it was my eighth grade. I am now 53 years old. I remember the huge ferris wheel. Oh, what memories.

Mar 06, 2014
Park never visited
by: Lucy

Saw this park but never visited it.

Mar 04, 2014
marco polo park
by: puftguy1

I (just the other day) ran across a Marco Polo Park banner I bought from there back in, I believe 1973??...... this banner still looks great after 40 years !!....the park held some good memories for me and my family

Jul 07, 2013
kabuki Theater
by: Gary

Thanks so much for reminding me of this place. I was a flight instructor at Embry-Riddle back in 1971 and I remember taking my girlfriend at the time, who lived in Fort Lauderdale, to Marco Polo Park. The Japanese gardens and especially the Kabuki Theater are the most vidid memories and I had completely forgotten the name of the park or where it was at until I found this web site. I just moved back to Florida last year. I really wish that Disney had picked a different location for his "mouse trap". A wish like that and a few dollars will only get me a cup of coffee maybe LOL..

Sep 29, 2012
NOT A DISNEY GUY
by: Rik

Our folks took us to Disney, but my sister and I enjoyed camping at Jellystone Park and Marco Polo more than Mickey's Big House. If I could have one park back, it would be Sixgun Territory in Silver Springs near Ocala. Can't wait to see the pictures you have of it, Steve.

Aug 30, 2012
Growing up in adventuresome Florida
by: Anonymous

When I was ten, my family and I went to the park when it opened and we really enjoyed it! There were hardly any visitors there so we had the park to ourselves. It was the same way when we went our second and third time, just before it closed. For years it sat abandoned and we once stopped to look at it, and I felt such nostalgia for a much simpler time and age. I was sad to see an RV park obliterate all existence of the park. For me, it represented my innocence, and the adventuresome childhood I experienced growing up in Florida circa 1960's and 70's; and always will.

Florida Backroads Travel says: I share your feelings of nostalgia. Yesterday I drove the backroads to St. Augustine and drove over to the ocean on that backroad that now has its own I-95 interchange near Marco Polo Park. I thought about that old place and wish it was still around.

May 30, 2012
Good times!
by: Steve

I have a Facebook group dedicated to MPP and Six Gun Territory called Florida Amusement Parks of the Past.Feel free to do a search on it. FB has "migrated" my group and when I have time, I'm planning on putting it in the new group format. There's a lot of pics in it from both parks. I went to both parks with my folks when I was younger. Thanks for your time and have a nice day!

May 09, 2012
Thanks For Reminding Us About Marco Polo Park
by: Mike Miller

Jackie:

Thanks for telling us about your experiences working at MPP. It was a nice little place; I agree with you, wish it had been able to compete with the Mouse because it was a lot of fun.

May 09, 2012
Worked there
by: Jackie Rainey

When I returned from my freshman year College in the summer of 1971, I needed a job..A good friend of mine had visited MPP and knew some people there so we got a job. I took tourists on the flat bottom boats aka sampans through the park and our claim to fame was that I had to actually steer the boats as they did not run on tracks or rails under the water like they did at Disney World. A couple of the rocks on the bank of the "rivier" have paint marks on them from my boat..Oops. We just referred to it as Jackie's Landing. We also would ride the turban ride in another part of the park. This was a gravity centrifugal force ride and the operators would bring it up to touch the feet of the guests and then after giving them a false sense of being safe and the ride coming to a stop, he would drop the floor again!! We had a great time doing all kinds of tricks in this ride! it was a nice little family park, but alas could not compete with the House the Mouse built.

Mar 29, 2012
I loved going there
by: Anonymous

I remember going there as a child and I LOVED it, but what I really remember are the Japanese gardens and the water. It was fantastic and really glad I am able to find info on it and see pics. Thanks!!

Jan 19, 2012
memory lane
by: Anonymous

I rememeber going to MPP as a little girl, and still have the park map as well. The log flume was so scary at the time, and the swings seemed so high up. I can't pass the exit without thinking of it. I am always amazed that there was a park there, and now now trace of it at all. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Dec 07, 2011
Thanks For The Memories
by: Mike Miller

Maria: thanks for sharing your memories of Marco Polo Park. As the years go by, fewer and fewer of us remember those old places. I'm always sorry when one of them doesn't make it.

Dec 05, 2011
Thanks for the article!!!
by: Maria

I remember going there many times in 1971 (when I was 4-5 years old) and just finished looking at some of the old pictures I have of this place from when my parents took me there. I always loved it!

Jan 01, 2011
Marco Polo Park
by: Greg May

Loved your article, Mike, on Marco Polo Park! Although I never visited it when it was open, I remember seeing it from I-95 on our way to Marineland. This is another "Lost Florida Attraction" like Six Gun Territory. Before Disney came to Orlando, the nation's most popular theme parks were the Six Flags chain. Marco Polo Park was the closest thing to having Six Flags in Florida.

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