Bongoland dinosaur.

Ruins of Bongoland

Field review by the editors.

Port Orange, Florida

This place is now Sugar Mill Gardens, plantation ruins of an old sugar mill surrounded by 12 acres of flowering trees, holly magnolia, and other native flora. But from 1948 to 1952 it was Bongoland, a theme park with a miniature train, a replica Seminole village, and "prehistoric monsters" made by M.D. "Manny" Lawrence out of concrete and chicken wire.

Five of them survive and are now protected as relics of Florida's heritage. Their paint is long gone, their bodies are darkened with grime and mold and covered with moss and spider webs. The Triceratops isn't a bad reproduction, but the T-Rex is awful. Evidently more of these creatures were in the park, and one wonders what other marvels wrought by Manny have been lost forever.

Bongoland T-Rex.

Bongoland was owned by Perry Sperber, the first dermatologist in Daytona Beach. It was named for "Bongo," a large baboon that lived there. A sign next to the Stegosaurus notes that the park closed "for lack of public interest." Indeed!

Ruins of Bongoland

Address:
950 Old Sugar Mill Rd, Port Orange, FL
Directions:
I-95 exit 260A. East on Beville Rd (Hwy 400) about three miles, then south on Nova Rd about three miles. East on Herbert St, then bear left onto Old Sugar Mill Rd. Parking lot on the right.
Hours:
Daily 8am - 5 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
386-767-1735
Admission:
Free, donations.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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