Miracle Strip at Pier Park

by November 13, 2009 • 27 comments
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Tonight, the Panama City Beach City Council voted and approved a variance request in the zoning of a particular parcel that rests in Pier Park from T-3 to T-3A, which will allow some amusement rides according to the zoning and future land use plan of Panama City Beach.

Something’s been a brewin’ in Pier Park and a movement is afoot to bring a little life revival to the new “downtown” of Panama City Beach.

Just recently, the contract was awarded to a local excavation company to begin demolishing a badly worn and dilapidated piece of Panama City Beach history.  Miracle Strip Amusement Park, right on Alf Coleman Road had been a long time Panama City Beach favorite for the old and young alike.  Countless locals and vacationers have endless memories riding on the rides, hanging in front of the attractions and smelling the warm salt air among the amusement lights.

“It’s so sad,” Karen Smith said one day when we were nearby shooting another episode of The Beach Show, “Miracle Strip was a HUGE part of my childhood and adolescent years.”  One of the most common affections we’ve heard is the shame that this great part of Panama City Beach was closed in vain at the prospect of progress.  The opportunity to make millions in pre-construction resort development buyout was too tempting for the owners who sold the property to a development group that was set to build Miracles, a sprawling, amenity-rich resort.

With the downturn in the previously booming condo industry, the property sat there for years, literally untouched but by vandals, vagrants and pests.

“They had approached me before to buy some of the old rides,” said Teddy Meeks, owner of the Miracle Strip Carousel in Pier Park.  “They knew I had bought the carousel and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”  Teddy just recently bought the old Balloon Ride and The Red Barron Plan ride from the former Miracle Strip Amusement Park. He’s been working with Pier Park for months trying to conceptualize the perfect combination to ensure absolute nostalgic charm that is clean and tasteful.  The trick is to add to Pier Park without bringing any element that is less than the high-standard that Simon Property Group has set.

In addition to the old balloon and Red Barron rides, Meeks has purchased a 50 foot tall Ferris Wheel.  “We want to have that charm that the old rides have, but we want everything to look and feel new,” Meeks said, “we didn’t want those new rides with the fancy graphics, we wanted to keep it retro and clean.”  More rides are being planned for the future.

When they brought the carousel into Pier Park, there was quite a bit of skepticism as to how well it would do and how it would be received by the Pier Park community AND Panama City Beach.  But, interestingly enough, it has brought a sense of belonging to Pier Park and opened the shopping center up to former PCB loyalists that before were unsure if they could accept the change and evolution that has been sweeping over Panama City Beach the last several years.  Pier Park is becoming quickly ingrained into Panama City Beach and becoming a memory-generator in its own right.

Adding amusement rides to a Simon Property Group mall is a far stretch from normalcy, but the cool thing is that they are willing to look at new ideas on a community by community basis.  Miracle Strip Amusement Park is almost as much a part of Panama City Beach history as the white sand PCB’s famous for.  Generations enjoyed the entertainment found there for decades.  To bring a little bit of Miracle Strip back to life in Pier Park is a bold move, but it is something that is sure to win over the hearts of thousands, earn the trust of Panama City Beach loyalists and seal the relationship and future prosperity of Pier Park in Panama City Beach.

Bravo guys, bravo.

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1 Donna November 13, 2009 at 1:48 am

I have been a visitor to PC since 1981 from the UK, as we have good friends who live there. I have been to miracle strip many times as a child & adult. I was very sad to hear it had closed, as I could not then take my own kids. Obviously with all the development going on in PC beach there has got to be room for ‘another’ miracle strip…….. I absolutely love PC, and have always been welcomed and look forward to my next visit.


2 jobeibi November 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

This is wonderful. Thanks, Pier Park!

Now, please think about putting up a dance pavillion that will remind my dad’s generation of the old Hangout.


3 Don November 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Yes, I too remember the Hangout!!!


4 Nanch March 30, 2010 at 12:29 am

Panama City Beach is full of memories, the Miracle Strip Amusement Park, Petticoat Junction and by all mean “The Hangout”. There is nothing that can compare with all the memories and good times there. The little cottages at Long Beach Resort were full of families from all over the US and there families would meet and come back year after year after year.


5 Allan November 15, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Yay…this is great news! Can they bring back the Starliner too? It was still for sale last I checked!


6 Curtis November 17, 2009 at 7:55 am

The idea about the Hangot is great. I have fond memories of the great times and of course the unforgetable people that congregated there,so sad future generations will never be able to enjoy it.


7 Andrea November 17, 2009 at 8:08 am

I have to say, Pier Park and the new airport may be Panama City Beach’s salvation!


8 Bruce November 17, 2009 at 8:14 am

My parents had a beach house at panama city beach and we came down almost every weekend during the summer and like others, Miracle Strip was where we (the kids) went every Saturday night. It was wonderful and so much fun. I wish that it was still there so that my son and his friends could experience the joy and fun that i had growing up at PCB. I think that it is great that PCB is working at bringing some of the Magic back. I do not know if the planning committee or residents know about the old fashion park that is in Orlando, FL. It is called “Old Town”, they have a small old wooden roller coaster and other old fasion rides and mom and pop stores, magic shops, haunted house, etc…. they have weekly ride in antique car show nights (two), and break it into two nights and cover vintage years up thru the 80’s. They also have a ride in bike night where people can bring in their bikes, set them up for people to look at and vote on and give away prizes (for both bike and car nights). The visitors are the judges, then they have them all ride out at the same time on each event night. There is a link in the internet for Old Town and I think that it would make a great asset for PCB to look for Pier Park. I hope that someone forwards ideas to the PCB planning committee that are out here for them to think about and look at. PCB needs an amusement park, it would complete PCB again and definately make families with older kids want to come back to the pan handle instead of running down to Orlando. PCB went from a hometown family own motels, etc… to a business beach, it needs to be back to the way it was in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. A place where everyone felt they were home and the locals smiling and speaking to you. A place where you did not have to beg to get things for your room.
I still come down with my wife, but my son who is now 16, is not interested since there is nothing that he can do at night. He does not party like most kids his age, and is not interested in the night clubs even though he is not old enough to get in, he looks old enough to pass without being carded, but it is not his things. He was raised old fashion and just likes to hang out with his friends and a amusement park would be a great place for kids/teens that are not interested in clubs to be. I hope that PCB does bring back a park for teens to hang out at. Has PCB considered buying the old Miracle Strip property and building a new park? If anyone knows, can you please post something here.




9 Carolyn November 17, 2009 at 8:47 am

I say HOOORRRRAAAAH! How wonderful to bring with taste and charm the rides from Miracle Strip. For many vistors and locals to our wonderful beaches, Miracle Strip and the rides bring fond memories of fun and childhood. Nostalgia seems to produce an inner peace – maybe in this case to our childhood. What great timing when our need for tranquility could not be greater. A place to escape to something fun and simple.


10 Lynda November 17, 2009 at 9:46 am

Bring back the Starliner and the old time bumper cars too. And, yes, the hang out would be fantastic!


11 rcdave November 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

The Starliner rollercoaster was sold to Cypress Gardens in Central Florida and rebuilt there a few years back – however, as of Sept 29th, CG has closed and the Starliner may be up for sale in again in the near future. However, you can only dismantel, move and reassemble these classic coasters just so much… Yes, it would be awesome to have it back!


12 Lynne November 17, 2009 at 11:20 am


One of my favorite memories of my teenage years was the park on vacation from Georgia.

Thanks, Pier Park!


13 Jeff November 17, 2009 at 11:36 am

It’s not so unusual to have amusements at a Simon mall. Although they no longer own a stake in it, the Mall of America in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the largest mall in the U.S., has an amusement park inside. I fully support it and think it would be great for the area. My understanding is that Cypress Gardens never actually reassembled the Starliner, but I could be wrong. Either way, it is for sale.


14 Jeff November 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I don’t remember the name of the ride but PLEASE bring back the Corvets with the 50’s music playing.



15 Jessica April 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm

No crap Jeff


16 melissa dye November 17, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I was so sad to see the amusement park go, too!!! I especially miss the log ride.Long ago there was a haunted house that you rode through, and the ghost would come out of the front top window and circle back in. We still talk about that to this day!! Please bring back the rides!! That is what the beach and vacation is to us all!!!!!!!


17 Angela November 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm

YAY!! HOORAY!!! I have missed the Miracle Strip Amusement Park!! Hope that they will bring back a lot of the rides that were there!! We went there EVERY summer and rode almost everything they had to ride several times over!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE restore the Miracle Strip Park!!! I am 40 years old and still love amusement parks, but this one has always been my favorite, even over Six Flags!!! I ride by the site when we go now but it is not the same!! Hopefully this will get accomplished and more and more “old-timers” will return again!!! You are never to old for Miracle Strip!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!


18 Susan November 17, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Can you bring back the haunted house ride? It was my favorite. Loved the moving tunnel inside it and the quick turns. The water logs were fun too! My family misses Miracle Strip so much!! Dante’s Inferno was the bomb!!


19 Eric Darnell November 18, 2009 at 9:26 am

Even though I wish that Miracle Strip was still here, this story makes me happy.


20 Jada January 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

What a wonderful idea. I would always go to the Miracle Strip every year. All of the rides were fantastic… the Musical Express, The Spider, Dante’s Inferno, the Abominable Snowman, the Log Ride, both haunted houses… I could go on and on. If you could bring back even half the rides of the original park it would be a success.



21 Heather January 12, 2010 at 9:52 am

This is the best news!! I was so happy when they brought the carousel in and to hear that they are bringing more of the park back is wonderful! So many fond memories of that park and its rides 🙂


22 Mike from P'Cola January 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm

As nice as this sounds, there will never be another Miracle Strip Amusement Park. Most of the other rides have either been sold off to other parks or scrapped. My personal favorite ride was always the Musik Express. Cliff’s Amusement Park in New Mexico now has it, and they have ruined it. It looks a mess from trying to “modernize” it. Look what happened to Petticoat Junction. In its place there’s a Wal-Mart. Panama City Beach used to be a fun place to escape to during the summer months, but greed and politics have turned it into a poor man’s version of South Beach, Miami. I’m sorry, but the memories will only be just memories.


23 ValetaSue Jones February 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Will be wonderful to have some of the old things back from Miracle Strip..More for our kids to do and alot of parents know that is what is needed in PCB not more rooms!


24 Andy February 22, 2010 at 1:06 am

There should be some use at Pier Park for the face of ‘Dante’s Inferno’. It is a piece of PCB art.


25 Kelly S April 8, 2010 at 9:57 am

I am elated about the additions to pier park. It brings back childhood memories as well as helps me make new memories with my Granddaughter. We purchased a house on the west end of the beach over a year ago and continue to enjoy the “fun” we have walking around pier park every time we are in town. I do not think Miracle Strip Park can ever be replaced but I can not wait to get my daughter and granddaughter on those new “old” rides and make our new memories. Thanks for the thought, keep them coming.


26 Jessica April 3, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I miss Miracle Strip they need to build another one.


27 miranda March 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Music express. Dipping dots.lazy river .log flume.