The Day Boardwalk & Baseball closed. (Long story)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 9:04 PM
I was employed there the day it came to a halt. It was such a weird day! The story and some history goes..

November 15th (ish), 1989
I moved from Chicago area and gave up four year of seniority and a Supervisor position at Six Flags (GAm)in hopes of new opportunities. B&B was just purchased by Busch and there was LOTS of hope and optimism. Even Dick Howard, the Park's top dog, wrote of an inspiring future for the park in the Company's newsletter.

December 3rd I start at the park, but am amazed how DEAD business was yet EVERY attraction was fully staffed. Barely 500 people visited the park daily. It was sad and eery! But, more positive words came from upper management about the future and I was offered an opportunity to "move up" after only four weeks. Cool!

January 17th, my first day in my "Lead" position, and it is a BEAUTIFUL day! I am the Parking/Guest Services person greeting every carload of Guests. I hand them a FREE park map, daily newsletter and charge NOTHING for parking. (I thought it was funny a few cars did not stop cause they thought I was going to charge them.) We are actually getting busy as Spring Training is around the corner and the Disney leftover crowd is checking out B&B!!! Over 1000 people are here for the first time since I've been there!!!

But...
A HUGE orange grove fire is burning on the northwest corner of the I and Route 17(?), just caddy corner from the park. Big black clouds of smoke coming closer as the day progresses. is January 17th. I have a radio for the first time and hear unusual chatter about the fire and how "they'll be here soon". About 30 minutes later, another radio call saying "They're on their way. Make the announcement." Then it happened.

All Guests were requested to exit the park and receive their voucher for a full refund on the way out. I was pulled from my position and taken into the park to direct Guests toward the exit. RUMOR was that the clouds were toxic, but the only toxicity was in the message from one of the Busch family members, who just arrived at the Park.

At 4:30 in the IMAX theater, we were told, "Wish we had better news...but we don't. The park is closed." We were escorted out by dozens of state, county and local police members. News crews filming the Lippizan Stallions rushed Employees looking for a story. They got one. Lots of hope turned to heartache. B&B was a major employer in a somewhat depressed area (Haines City, Davenport).

They gave us some temp work at Sea World, which was cool. They did offer p/t and f/t work for some tenured Employees at Tampa, Sea World and Cypress. I chose to pursue Disney after a few days at Sea World. (It was cool, but I wanted more professionally.)

I admit I held a grudge against Busch for many years. I wouldn't even drink their beer...and it was free at a party! But now in the position I am in, I know sometimes closing has to happen. I've had a few other stints that did not work out like Old Indiana and Block Party. I sometimes think I'm a curse, but I say maybe I just got to these places too late.

I ended up returning to Six Flags after 3 months at Disney (parking/transpo, kinda cool). I spent the next six years progressing well and learning lots. Now I'm VERY happy and successful at this FEC! Everything happens for a reason!!!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007 9:30 PM
CastleKing,

Do you remember the physical address of the park? Is ther anything left there? Just curious, My husband and I always talk about it when we head to Cypress once a month ,and would love to just do a drive-by to see where it once was. *** Edited 1/18/2007 2:30:52 AM UTC by Crazycoastergirl***

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007 9:35 PM
So, did the park burn, or did they just... close it?
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007 9:54 PM
I heard the old park area was going to be turned into a shopping complex. But I never heard if it was. If you type in Boardwalk and Baseball on any search engines there's alot of good websites with pics and info on the old park.

timmyk

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007 10:20 PM
I visited the park in December 1989 and I was only 7 at the time so I didn't go on any of the coasters (except the Zamperla Dragon) but I remember thinking the park was so cool since I was a huge baseball fan and it combined two of my favorite interests. I remember the 16 story ferris wheel which was a lot of fun compared to the smaller ferris wheels I had been on.

It's a shame the park closed and I would have liked to have visited the park again. *** Edited 1/18/2007 3:22:53 AM UTC by YoshiFan***

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007 11:06 PM
If this Google maps link works, you can see the trees that used to surround the Florida Hurricane, just south of the baseball field.

And if this older Windows Live Local link works, you can see the tree outline better, as long as what I believe was the old Boardwalk Theatre/circus tent from when B&B was Circus World.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007 9:16 AM
Did you guys know that Roaring Tiger was in a special interest video with Matt Dillon called Wild Rides? That special showcases 5 coasters and Roaring Tiger was one of them.
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Thursday, January 18, 2007 1:36 PM
There is housing and shopping there now. The I-4/US 27 intersection is crazy these days. It makes me think the park might have made it if it could have held on another decade.

This will sound fake...though it isn't. I have an Uncle who nearly saved the park. He is a HUGE baseball fan, has done well for himself with baseball card collecting/selling, and was heavily involved in Orlando land projects. He was putting together an investment group that was to purchase B&B. He wanted to keep operating the park with the Spring Training component. Alas it didn't work out.

At the time I was working at Geauga Lake and he asked me to put together a study on the operations side of the park. About a week before I was scheduled to fly down there the investment group fell apart.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007 8:29 PM
Thanks for the interest, gang!

Even though I was there for a very short period of time, I learned and experienced ALOT.

I am planning to be down there in February so I may post more. I know there were several land development ideas and proposals. We'll see. You are right that they should have given it a chance.

Ken

P.S. The park did not burn, but the grove did for a few days. *** Edited 1/19/2007 1:30:40 AM UTC by CastleKing***

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Friday, January 19, 2007 9:38 AM
^ Which FEC do you work at? By your name, I'd assume Caste Park. But you know the whole saying about assumptions... ;)
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Friday, January 19, 2007 10:23 AM
Enchanted Castle - Lombard, IL
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Friday, January 19, 2007 4:02 PM
Those aerial shots are pretty cool. Interesting how the trees were saved and the path of the coaster is still somewhat visible. Almost like a coaster ghost...
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Friday, January 19, 2007 6:00 PM
That coaster is now the Arkansas Twister...isn't it?
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Friday, January 19, 2007 9:01 PM
you're right... it was relocated to Magic Springs.
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Saturday, January 20, 2007 1:33 AM
If I remember correctly, the rolling stock were the original Riverside Cyclone trains. If they weren't the actual trains, Riverside's cars were used for parts.
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