PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP)- For decades Miracle Strip Amusement Park was a symbol of Panama City Beach. Standing at the corner of Front Beach Road and Alf Coleman Road, it served as a family getaway and something to do at night along the shores of Panama City Beach.
It's main attraction, The Starliner, once played host as a local radio DJ, Jim King, set a world record for longest continuous roller coaster ride at 368 hours. Rides like the Abominable Snowman, Dante's Inferno, the Dungeon, Route 63, the Log Flume and Haunted Castle entertained crowds from 1963 until 2004. It closed to make way for a condominium development that never materialized. Rides were sold to companies worldwide after one final ride on the Starliner by longtime company employees on Labor Day weekend 2004.
Now, the land the original Miracle Strip sat on sits vacant, a sign of the real estate building boom and subsequent bust that affected the entire country.
Nearly 10 years after the original Miracle Strip closed, a new generation of Miracle Strip opened down the road from the original, next to Pier Park off Powell Adams Road in Panama City Beach.
Owners Jenny and Teddy Meeks envisioned the glory days of the amusement park once again entertaining crowds. There were even plans to bring back Starliner, which had been purchased from Cypress Gardens, where it had been reassembled then put into storage after two years of use. Starliner 2 was going to be bigger and better than the original. That was the plan.
But a number of things worked against the Meeks', from Pier Park limiting access to the land for parking next to the park, to crowds not showing up in numbers needed to sustain business.
Last September, the park suddenly closed. We reported on how the park had fallen a year behind on its rent and a judgement had been entered against it for more than $300,000 after the park's landlord filed suit.
Now, the rides from Miracle Strip at Pier Park are gone, having been auctioned off by Rides4U, a New Jersey-based business that specializes in new and used amusement equipment.
According to court records, a judgement against Miracle Strip Carousel LLC (the legal name of the new Miracle Strip) for back rent has been handed down in the amount of $429,890. The judgment filing was dated February 3, 2016.
So the new Miracle Strip has joined the old Miracle Strip, having written a chapter in the history of Panama City Beach. Fans of the Starliner will have to continue to wait for one more ride on the coaster that stood watch over Panama City Beach for more than 40 years.
Will that ever happen? Not without a miracle.