For years, locals and Panama City Beach visitors have enjoyed cooling off at Shipwreck Island by day, and overheating at Miracle Strip Amusement Park by night, but night life will change at the end of this summer.
Miracle Strip is closing to make way for new condos and shopping. Apparently the theme park’s rides are going fast, and although no official bids can be made before the Labor Day shutdown date, Miracle Strip officials say they've already gotten plenty of calls from potential buyers.
But by this time next year 30 pieces of Bay County history will be no more. For those who've made Miracle Strip a tradition on these balmy summer nights, the news is hard to believe.
“My dad says he's been here since he was a little boy and I just don't like it being closed down," says Cody, whose been coming to Miracle Strip since he was a toddler.
But many companies around the globe are counting down the days until the park is closed, and they can scoop up the priceless rides.
"A company from Mexico is purchasing about five rides. One ride is going to a company in New York. The O2 Tower, is going to a park in Pennsylvania. A company from Ecuador is coming in next week, and four more companies will be here in July," says Buddy Wilkes, Miracle Strip's General Manager.
When all the rides are gone, a new developer will take over, but Wilkes says there is some good news. The 20-acre site will not be turned into just another condominium.
Apparently, the developer is going to build a multi-use facility with entertainment, shopping, and housing.
“It's good news for us because of the sentimental ties we have to the property. It will be more than just a condo, and will add a lot to the beach," says Wilkes.
But not as much as 41 years of smiles and screams. Wilkes says he still hopes someone will buy all 30 rides and open a park somewhere locally. And he says it still can be done.
No monetary transactions can be made until the Labor Day shutdown date. If all the rides were bought new Wilkes says together they could cost for around $20 million at today's prices. But, there's no telling what these rides may bring on the today's market. One thing is for sure. They may be used, but all the rides are in excellent condition. Miracle Strip is known for having one of the best maintenance and safety programs in the industry.