During the winter of 1991, my ex and I took a trip to Kissimmee, Florida. It was my very first trip to Orlando and of course Disney and Universal were the main destinations during our stay, but we had an apartment for 8 days and I like to plan other things to do, as well.
Forever the roller coaster and theme park enthusiast, I had planned for us to visit a small amusement park in Haines City, Florida. I never miss an opportunity to ride new roller coasters and that’s just what we planned to do. The park was located off of a highway about halfway between Orlando and Tampa Bay. It was called Boardwalk and Baseball, and it had two roller coasters I hadn’t ridden before.
On the third day of our trip, Jay and I woke up early. The plan was to hit Boardwalk and Baseball for a few hours before heading on to see a little bit of Tampa. As any roller coaster enthusiast can attest, I was filled with anticipation as we began our trek to the park. As we got closer to our destination, some of the parks larger rides came into view, riveting up my excitement.
As we neared the exit for Boardwalk and Baseball, we both noticed that none of the rides seemed to be moving. We made a left at the traffic light and crossed over the highway to where the park stood. The gates were shuttered. Boardwalk and Baseball was closed down.
Disappointed, we headed back on to the highway towards Tampa. As we drove away, I couldn’t help but feel sad over the abandoned amusement park. We both noted the eeriness at seeing such a place empty, with all of those rides: the roller coaster, the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round, all still.
A little about Boardwalk and Baseball
Boardwalk and Baseball first opened its gates on February 14, 1987 on the site of a defunct amusement park called Circus World. The new park used many of the same rides and attractions as the former park, but made changes to its theme from animals and clowns to a turn of the century seaside boardwalk, complete with the new Baseball City Stadium, which briefly served as a spring training home for the Kansas City Royals. Gone were the circus themed attractions, such as the petting zoos and the Royal Lipizzaner Horse Show and replacing them were wooden boardwalks and baseball memorabilia.
Within the first two years of operation, Boardwalk and Baseball was in financial trouble. The property was purchased in September 1989 by Busch Entertainment Corporation and by January 1990, the park was shut down without warning and with patrons still inside the park. Many blame the demise of Boardwalk and Baseball to its inability to compete with the larger and more well-known Disney World in Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa. Having failed to add new attractions to its roster (almost all of its rides were holdovers from Circus World), the park failed to contend with the larger, and ever expanding theme parks and its demise was sealed.
The property that had been Boardwalk and Baseball sat idle for a decade, eventually being torn down and
redeveloped into Posner Park, a massive retail complex featuring several major big box stores, condos, hotels and offices. The last remnant of the park to be demolished was its IMAX Theater building, succumbing to a wrecking ball in 2003. Today, there is not a trace that the park ever existed.
For photos of Boardwalk and Baseball, please click here.
For more articles on amusement parks and thrill rides, see Collected Works: Roller Coasters.
To read a little history of the amusement parks of Coney Island and its new Luna Park, click here.