Pirates' World, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

by Judy Uplinger Brannon
(Crawfordville, Florida)

Pirates' World was a small theme park located on Sheridan St in Dania east of US 1 south of Ft. Lauderdale.

While I do not recall a lot of details about the place, I know that it was my first experience on a roller coaster. I mean a real outdoor one, so you could see your little car get to the edge of the track and take a nosedive downward! It was scary, but I knew my daddy would protect me. What a thrill it was!

There was some sort of ride, or several huge see-saws that had some weeds underneath, and I think someone got bit by a rattlesnake, and it was downhill from there.

With the opening of Disney World in the early 1970s, that probably helped bring about the closing of Pirates' World.

Comments for Pirates' World, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

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May 10, 2018
Fond Memories
by: Ruth

My Grandmother took my brother and me to Pirates World when I was 5 or 6. He was angry because he was 3 years old and was not allowed to drive the cars by himself.That place was great fun! I guess you could say I was pirate before Johnny Depp made pirates cool :) So sad that place went under like it did. I was too young to go to the concerts there, but some big name bands played there. I have an old picture of my Grandmother, brother and me in the cars. Loved growing up in South Florida!

Mar 18, 2018
by: Andy

I work on Sheridan between State Road A1A and US 1. I was too young then but i always try to figure out where it was exactly..what current building would lead me to its original location?

Feb 20, 2018
Model T car ride
by: Sam

One of those miniature size Model T cars you could drive at Pirates World is for sale on eBay right now 152913011691 , it looks like the real thing and is located in Fort Lauderdale

Dec 26, 2017
Please Continue Commenting Feature
by: Travis

In spite of what "Anonymous" has complained about, many of us enjoy reading the memories of others who enjoyed Pirate's World.

Please don't let the Grinch steal Christmas!

Dec 26, 2017
Judi's post, and a few others.
by: Anonymous

Honey, Pirates World did not have free admission. How could it have survived as long as it did? Maybe your parents paid for you to go there, so that made it free. As for employees attire...The uniforms, costumes,had white Capri pants, not brown. Tops were many different bright colors, including floral prints and solids, for ride operators. Pirates World did not "go bad" on its own. I'm sure the rock bands drew in alot of drugs, and that may have led to it's demise, in part. But the opening of Walt Disney World may have had more to do with its closing. There are many allegations as to why the park closed, but the real reason was likely a combination of factors. You can just about figure it out. I wonder if some of you who say you worked at Pirates really least for any substantial amount of time. Also, the park wasn't open in 1966. I could go on dissecting comments that are erroneous, but that's a waste of time. We former employees were a great group of high school kids, and we took our jobs seriously. If you didn't, you'd be out. I don't think girls in the office got people hired, it may have helped, but there are pretty strict rules regarding employment of minors in this state, I'm sure. Eventually an underage person would have been found out at tax time. This was a business, above all!


Dear Anonymous:

Your post is making us consider discontinuing the commenting feature for these "lost attractions". The feature requires a fair amount of our time in editing and publishing.

The comment section has been provided as a free service to our website visitors. We have no way of knowing if what is said is true or not; this may even be a bigger problem when we are dealing with memories from long ago.

Add to that our editing sometimes misinterprets something. Judi may have intended to say she felt "free" when enjoying the park. Not everyone's grammar is perfect and we may have misunderstood her intent.

You may have noticed that most of the contributors who shared their memories had the courtesy to at least provide their names. These people have no way to thoughtfully respond to an anonymous critic.

Your post has been helpful, however, and will hopefully create some comments from other visitors. If this commenting feature turns into a shouting contest, we will discontinue it.

Dec 23, 2017
What a Memory
by: Judi

Pirates World was a fantastic place for kids to go and be as you would get in free. My parents would drop us off on Friday nights early and come back when it closed to pick us up. These were the times you didn't have to worry about anyone kidnapping you.

The log flume and steeplechase were the most popular. There were great concerts of major bands that are still touring. This was a wonderful trip down memory lane. It is a shame that they went bad and kids won't have memories of freedom as we do.

Nov 06, 2017
by: Shell

I was young when Pirate's World was open but, I do remember the Steeplechase well. It was merry go round type horses. It was great, especially where it went over the water.

Oct 14, 2017
My first job
by: Jan B.

The park had just opened and my best friend's big sister was working in the office. We went to get a summer job and i was only 15 (had to be 16) so i lied about my age on the application. My job that summer and weekends in the fall was driving the raft that went over to the island. There was also a large ship in the bigger lagoon but we were at the far end. Everyone thought the raft was on rails under the water but it wasn't. I learned to drive and dock it. We had to wear these 'costumes'- don't remember the tops but pants were brown pants that were cut off and then torn in strips to the knee like pirate's... It was all great fun!! (the Steeplechase snake bite story was a myth. but there were a couple injury episodes on it. no one died while I was there 1966-ish and the park was open for at least a few years after that.) I dated a guy I met that worked there,too until he went to Vietnam and we are still in touch! I'll be 66 this year & I feel fortunate to have had the experience of working at the 'famous'Pirate's World in Dania, Florida!!

Aug 06, 2017
Great Memories
by: Linda

Wow what a great memory to have of your teen years! I had so much fun there especially the concerts. We lived right off Sheridan about a mile from the park so we spent a lot of time there. My first concert experience was 3 Dog Night and I was in heaven. So many I can't even remember every band I saw. Awesome memories!

Jul 22, 2017
1972 Concert
by: Anonymous

December 16, 1972 saw Deep Purple but cannot remember exactly where in the park the concert was held. Thought it was a metal building with long stadium style benches with the rest rooms under the seating. Thought we parked in a residential area and walked from the car about a block to the venue. Didn't even remember it was at Pirates World till I just dug out my old ticket stub. Thought I was at some makeshift temporary building type of thing in a residential neighborhood. That's how my mind remembers it. Any pictures of the building or an explanation of where the concerts were? Thanks

May 21, 2017
Fun Memories
by: Melissa

My first amusement park trip ever! I lived there as a kid growing up and remember my first trip to Pirates World. I was on cloud nine for about a week!

Apr 13, 2017
Had a Lot of Fun
by: Sharon E

I was just around 10 when my Mom took me there and I remember riding the steeple chase. They wouldnt let me ride until my mom agreed to go on it with me. She damn damn damned all the way around and dropped her purse so they had to go get it, then we went on the water ride and as we were going up the hill I looked around and she was climbing out of the log but I talked her back in and that was the end of the riding for her. But I had a great time and really missed it when it closed.

I am 60 now but can still remember the good times we had there a few times and at a reasonable price too.

Thank you Pirate's World for great memories

Jan 05, 2017
Pirate Boat Captain
by: Gary Young

Hi, in comments, Nancy Hubble stated she was the captain of the Pirate Boat and taught by a kid to pilot. Do believe I must have been that kid Nancy as I opened the park as the original and first captain. I remember teaching a girl to pilot the boat but, she was already experienced and older then me? Love to chat about our fun job.

Jan 02, 2017
Great Place to Work
by: Gary Sexsmith

Landed a job there with my buddies Bill Kagle and Don Windom, first job was putting Pirates World bumper stickers on the cars in the parking lot, did not make a good impression with a lot of customers!

Was moved to the"Island" where the slide and spinning Rocket Ride was located, if you clicked the button just right you could make the rocket bounce at its peak, eventually moved to the Wild Mouse and the Pirate Ship with Bill and Nancy Hubbell.

Great times working there and the after work parties were always a blast! Hollywood was a great place to grow up in during the 50s and 60s!!!

Jan 02, 2017
Pirate Boat Captain
by: Nancy Hubbell

The Pirate Ship at Pirates World was my home for most of my work experience at the Amusement Park. I was hired the opening day, March of 1967 as a Stranahan High School Junior, aged 16. I wasn't a dumb kid, rather studious, but I loved fun, the park had plenty of that.

The Black John, was built in the early 1930's as a pleasure craft, and sailed as "Island Trader" from the Florida Coast to the Bahamas. Originally a sloop rig, it became a square rig to resemble an authentic pirate ship. Black John was 50 feet long, drew six feet of water, and used a 145 foot horse power diesel engine. It held up to 75 passengers.

I learned to pilot the ship through a high school kid my age. It took practice and skill, which many of us teens could master. I was determined, and when Capt. Bill got Mono, I took the helm.There were 5 girls in all, first mate, Gail Muirhead, Betsy Spates, Cookie Broccoli and Marty Fraser, all bright and hard working, but fun! No one ever got hurt or fell in the water around Monkey Island. It was a great job for any high school kid, and we worked Summer and Winter...weekends in the winter, and holidays.

Great work, great fun, working outside in the Florida sun, and it could not have been a better gig, in my mind! Some stories I read about rock bands, came later than my time which was 67-68, til June graduation for me. The urban myths about snakes in the Steeple Chase and a faulty Wild Mouse roller coaster are not true! It was a business and as employees, we had a serious job...keep everyone safe, and as kids of the 60s, we did that!

Nancy Hubbell, Belanger. Class of 1968, Stranahan High School, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Jan 02, 2017
by: Rocky Bruce

I was only at Pirates World a few times because we lived in the Bahamas. Went there for a couple of summers and by the time we moved back here it was almost gone. Saw a few concerts in the early 70's. Always heard about the rattle snakes but as a kid we were always in the woods all around there even before it was there and I have never seen one. Nurse sharks in the lake, maybe but a little far fetched I think.

I do know that a person I knew as a kid whose father was the builder and their family name was Zenobia. I remember going in there in the middle 70's after it closed and found the family name on a sign in the tilted house.

Nov 12, 2016
Urban Legend #1
by: Mr Lumino

The comments about "the snake coming out of the wooden horse and biting the child" show that urban legends never die. Like KFC dropping "Chicken" for the letter C because "it contains no real chicken anymore" or the "roller coaster going straight instead of making the turn"., this is the most infamous urban legend of all time. It started because parents didn't want their children going to "unsavory" amusements parks among other things. And if you say "it was in the paper!", show me the proof

Oct 17, 2016
60's - 70's
by: deadsnake

I grew up in S. Fl. Pirate's World was a blast. Between the rides and the concerts, there was always something to do. As silly as it sounds, the Steeplechase ride was a favorite of mine. I miss it a lot!

Aug 26, 2016
The good things in our lives
by: Alan

My wife and myself stopped by Pirates World on our way to Miami Beach in 1968. It qas a neat amusement park that charged one price for admission. If I remember correctly the slides were like grain storage containers and dark inside as you slid down on a burlap bag. They were quite high and some kids jumped from the top into the water below. Way too scary for us and it took a lot of nerve.

We were from Virginia driving a 65 Plymouth Sport Fury. This was the coolest of amusement parks.

Florida had lots of mystery houses and roadside places for us tourists to just stop and enjoy. The world didn't have gangs back then. A1A was a cool ocean road from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale that had lots of places to stop and visit along the way. Disney came along and so did the end of the good old times and places.

As an older couple now we remember the earlier times when it you could travel cheaply, go out have a good time for a few bucks and not worry about getting into trouble or confrontations when you make a comment. Glad sites like this exist so us who remember can recall those places others can only think about. Like when they raced cars and drove on the beaches of Daytona and Jacksonville, motels with diving boards at the pools all the good stuff gone today.!!!!!

Yee Haw for the oldies

Aug 05, 2016
Worked there too
by: John

I was an outsider, a Chicago kid shipped to my Grandmother's in Hollywood for a couple of summers. Actually had a nice easy lifeguard job for awhile at a country club thanks to a cousin of mine but that was never me.

Instead, I biked seven miles each way on my $5 garage sale old Schwinn to work at Pirate World, or walked. Still remember willing my feet home at the end of each day. Gotta get home, gotta eat; gotta get home; gotta eat.

The place was so cool and I was a part of it. There were all these kids my age working there. Everyone bored silly with menial tasks like checking seat belts and pushing a button, or handing out burlap bags on the giant slide. Especially cute local girls, performers, pirates, Hobie the old wise mechanic who let you do a round or two with him and his belt full of tools, lots of sun, concerts and Peg Hood.

Peg collected burlap bags at the bottom of the giant slide and I would hand them out at the top as people came up the stairs. A whole different skill set is needed at the top because the questions you would get on the slide had sooner consequences when asked at the top: Can we ride together? Can I go backwards? No. No and Hell no standing up.

They would rotate new staff in and out after an hour or so in the sun so I wasn't always paired with Peg. But I liked her and thought maybe she liked me.

One day when we were small talking before opening the ride, she said, "I really like your moccasins". Well, I really liked them too and was touched. So much so, that my faithful adoring of her every perfect movement from my perch was just not enough of an answer.

So I took a calculated risk and took off my moccasins, arranged them on a bag and sent them down the giant slide. They rode well, she laughed. She did like me and we were a couple from that day until I left for college.

College in different states was a bookend for me to those times, but I remember.


Great story, John. You made us feel like we were there with you sliding down on that burlap bag.

Aug 05, 2016
Great Fun
by: John

As a kid, I went to Pirate's World many times. I was even secretly filmed by a camera crew and they used it as part of a commercial for the park. I also went to the Alice Cooper Concert, one of my first. Cool place

Aug 04, 2016
Barely remember
by: Anonymous

We moved to miramar, fl in 1966, I was 2 and do remember pirates world. I was probably 7 and the only thing I remember is the steeplchase horses. Not sure if I rode them, but do remember them there. Years later I do remember the story about the snake, that was hiding inside of one if the horses and bit somebody. I always thought that was one of the reasons they closed. Wish I was 10 years older, so I could of seen led zep....

Jul 03, 2016
Local Ghost Town
by: Andy

By the time I moved into the area Pirates World had been closed for many years. We used to sneak into the park and just explore everything. At first it was pretty creepy as we didn't know if or when someone or something would jump out at us. Thank goodness that never happened. We once got a roller coaster car back on a section of track and pushed each up and down. Exploring that closed down park was a great part of youth!

Apr 01, 2016
My old stomping ground
by: Cathy

Wow! Talk about a blast from the past. I worked at Pirate's World the last two seasons before it closed. I was a ride operator. We had the most fun. I made lots of friends with the other kids who worked there. I was only 17 at the time. We would ride the Mouse again and again before work in the mornings.

The Steeplechase was just as dangerous as the comments here suggest. It was rickety but fun. One of the best perks was that employees could go to the concerts for free. Many of the best rock groups of the time would play. After a while, I switched from ride operator to Maintenance, and being a girl, that basically meant just walking around the park and stabbing whatever litter was on the street.

It was the best of times. Very dear to my heart are these memories. Met some incredibly cute guys there.

Mar 30, 2016
Pirates world
by: KT

Pirates World was on Sheridan St in Dania Beach East of US 1

Mar 09, 2016
I worked there!
by: Diane Tisdale

I remember when Pirates World was open when I was in junior high and a group of us kids were goofing around in the water fountain which ended up getting all of us promptly thrown out.

Several years later when I was a Senior at South Broward High, I was hired on as one of the dancers in the show called "Clown alley". After each show all day the entire cast would head out to the park in costume and ride on the rides with kids that were at the park, then head back to the showroom and get ready for our next appearance which included singing, dancing etc.

What a wonderful time that was.

Dec 29, 2015
Fond Memories of Youth
by: Anonymous

Pirates World was more than a tourist attraction: it was a theme park and they also had musical entertainment from the sixties and seventies. It was located off Dania Beach Boulevard.

My recollection of the reason it closed was the steeplechase roller coaster had rattlesnakes nesting in the horses during the off season when it was closed. A boy riding was bitten several times and was transported to the Miami Serpentarium where he was treated with antivenom by Clarita Hass. This brought Inspectors that deemed the park unsafe.

I had my fun In an antiquated unregulated Park!!!

Dec 26, 2015
Wonderful Times!!
by: Darian

I Went to Pirates World every Saturday,from 1969 to 1971.

Some of our group had young teens,and they would send them over to the park to ride the rides and see the pirate shows. Then we would go to the stage,where we could watch one of new bands that were just getting their start.

I'm talking about The Grateful Dead,Santana,Chambers Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad (when one of the worst fights broke out).

Every band that had an album out at that time played there,the tickets were only $4.00 and that included the Amusement Park and all the rides LOL..what a Fabulous place!! and wonderful memories.....


Nov 15, 2015
The Wayback Machine
by: Cynthia

I feel like I just got out of the WAYBACK machine with Mr. Peabody!

I remember going to Pirate's World so many times as a kid. My first time was when I was 5, back when the park first opened in 1967. I remember my mom losing a ring in the log flume when she was shaking off the water she had been sprayed with. I personally loved any excuse to get sprayed with water so it was my favorite ride!

Oct 17, 2015
by: Bryan Long

I had just come of age when my mother would let me and my friend Michael Spanik go it alone," Pirates World" what a day Sun,Fun, Alice Cooper Concert could you ask for anything more. ( Special )

Jul 27, 2015
Working the Steeplechase
by: Jack

Catching on the Steeplechase was a memorable experience. Especially when wet.

I worked there in one of the last years the park was open and the ride had seen better days. Brakes hardly worked, and they didn't work at all in the rain. We would just catch those horses as they came barreling in at the end of the ride.

We had about fifteen feet to stop them before they went between the stairs and smacked into the horse that was loading. Many times we would be dragged kicking at posts and anything to slow them down after the brakes didn't stop them. Very hard work particularly when loaded with overweight types (mass + acceleration).

Had one time (in the rain) when we spotted a car with some really fat guy that stopped way out on the course. We yelled at the girls up front to stop the chain. Once the chain on the top of the first hill let loose of a horse, it was gone down the track and there was no stopping until the end. Well I ran yelling at the people on the stopped horse to hang on but there was a crash. Nobody seriously injured but could have been a lawsuit.

If the riders were New Yorkers, they probably sued. We could always tell who the NYC people were in line, loud and obnoxious.

Jun 17, 2015
Pirate's World
by: Craig

I remember going there in the early 70s. They had a swinging bridge over a moat full of nurse sharks that led to two really high towers. Once you got to the top you could slide down a fireman's pole. It was at least two stories high and I doubt it would pass any safety inspections now !!! But it was a wild fun place. They had some major concerts there - Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad ...... just a memory now.

May 23, 2015
i remember
by: judi

when i came to florida pirates world was the first amusement park i ever was at and the steeple chase ride was my absolute favorite i remember riding it over and over and my other favorite ride was the wild mouse roller coaster i had so much fun there i wished it had never closed i am 68 now and if it was still open i would be riding the steeple chase and wild mouse yet today it was an awesome park


Judi: you have just accomplished something I've never seen before: a paragraph that is one long sentence with no capital letters and no punctuation. Nevertheless, you got your enthusiastic message across loud and clear.

Apr 26, 2015
Making your day safe
by: Gerald Gary Young

The Steeple Chase: when the park first was going to open, I had been hired during the setup stage. The Steeple Chase in those days was on a different track and levels then when it was in NY. They had no idea or means to determine how fast at any one point on the track it would be safe and people would not fly off. So, like my dad in the old days when they built new roads and he was sent down the road in his car to determine how fast he could maneuver the turns they did the same with us young fellows of 16. We got on the horses and flew away and yes, we flew off as well. Different guys of different weight and they told us to really try to hang on. When we couldn't they would tighten up the brakes and slow us down.

The Log Flume: was done the same way, they would raise and lower the levels of the water and set up brakes to slow us down at different points. I never really realized that I actually was a Dare Devil before it was invented.

Apr 25, 2015
Pirates World in 1968
by: Jolly Rodger (DJ)

Pirates World was located on the north side of Sheridan Street a mile or two east of US1.

I remember doing the radio commercials for Pirates World when I worked as a DJ at WIRK in West Palm Beach in 1968. Who better than a DJ named "Jolly Rodger" to do commercials for Pirates

"Arr, me hearties, meet me tonight at Pirates World. See pirates dueling in the streets", etc. I still have one of their radio commercials around here somewhere.

They were famous for having weekend concerts, local bands playing rock 'n roll there on weekends, along with their many rides. One ride that scared me was the wooden horses that rode on wheels on a narrow little track around the park. They jerked so much I always thought I was going to fall off.

In recent years the Dania Lions Club held Pirates Day reninons once a year, near Dania Jai Alai.
I remember some DJ's that attended a few of those reunions, myself, Rick Shaw of Majic 102.7 and car show DJ Rockin' Rich who did the car show at te reunions. Former Pirates World employees and park visitors enjoyed rememebering all the fun times at Pirates World.

Jun 15, 2014
The Original Pirate
by: Gary Young

Yes, I was the first one that drove the Pirate boat around the Island when it opened. I was only 16 and because my Father had taught me well, how to pilot a boat they let me run the show. It was a free floating renovated schooner from Sweden or somewhere in those areas.

I would load the boat at the ramp and then pilot it our to the center where the pirates would board and scare the riders. It was a lot of fun and of course I was popular and made a big Ham of myself.

All went well, until I had to quit to go back to High School and they wanted me to train someone. Many tried and couldn't master the wheel. They were only hiring High School students in the park back then, not many adults.

Well, they made me let one guy have a go on his own with me on shore. I told them I didn't think he had the confidence to do it and sure enough he took out the dock with a loaded boat and about 50 people on the dock. After that they hired a licensed girl pilot.

We had a lot of fun there. There was a one armed man that we always chased with the golf cart. I got my girlfriend Tanya Ferro a job there and she did not approve of that at all.

Sep 12, 2013
Pirates' World, Dania, Florida
by: Judy Uplinger Brannon

I just looked on a couple other places and found this was actually located in Dania, near Sheridan Street and US 1 (Federal Highway). I was a couple miles off in my recollection of its location. I had forgotten about the Crow's Nest that Greg May mentioned. On one of the websites about lost Florida attractions, there are several photos. A couple of the rides had come from other places; Greg mentioned one of them; the other came from the World's Fair at Coney Island!

Sep 11, 2013
I Remember Pirate's World!
by: Greg May

I visited Pirate's World in the summer of 1970. That was the week I spent with my cousins in Ft. Lauderdale. I got to go to Ocean World twice that week but on Saturday we all went to Pirate's World. They had a ride - that was scary! - called The Steeplechase.

You climbed onto a plastic horse that careened along a steel track. Rumor had it that ride was brought down from Coney Island but somebody DID get bit by a rattlesnake on that ride. I also remember the Log Flume Ride and there was a ride that lifted you in cages hundreds of feet above the ground. Pirate's World was a big deal back then - they had rock concerts but for some reason it closed.

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