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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 cement worker M.D. "Manny" Lawrence, out of concrete and chicken wire.

Four of the monsters 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, 25 feet long, isn't a bad reproduction, but the 42-foot-tall T-Rex was awful (It collapsed into rubble during a rainstorm in July 2019). 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.
The Bongoland T-rex collapsed in July 2019.

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

950 Old Sugar Mill Rd, Port Orange, FL
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.
Daily 8-5. Gated after hours. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Free, donations.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
Holly Hill Gnome Tree, Holly Hill, FL - 7 mi.

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