Author Topic: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland  (Read 911 times)

thelakelander

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Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« on: May 21, 2018, 05:22:14 AM »
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Dear Call Box: I want to know about the history of Dixieland Park.

D.N., Jacksonville

Dear D.N.: Step through Dixieland’s elaborate Moorish-style entrance, and you encountered an exotic world of fantasy, thrills and adventure.

To some, it undoubtedly represented an alien world, though not of the Martian kind.

There was the chain-smoking, beer guzzling chimp in tails and top hat who scarfed down cheese sandwiches and shamelessly flirted with any woman who came near.

There was Madame Morelli and her 12 jaguars.

There was supposedly a bowling elephant and a lion who rode horseback.

And watch out for “Tiny” Broadwick parachuting from a hot air balloon.

It was all right here in South Jacksonville. Dixieland Amusement Park opened in March 1907, long before the Acosta Bridge was built in 1921. To get there you had to take the ferry from the end of Main Street to what is now called the Southbank. It encompassed the area from the Treaty Oak to the present-day DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.

It was billed as the Coney Island of the South and described as the hottest thing in town when it opened.

They should call it Fairyland instead of Dixieland, a Florida Metropolis reporter said at the time.

Full article: http://www.jacksonville.com/news/20180519/call-box-before-disney-there-was-dixieland-where-parks-appeal-ranged-from-flirty-chimp-to-plunging-roller-coaster
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I-10east

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2018, 07:00:39 AM »
Jacksonville and jaguars definitely have a more significant correlation than many think. The article mentioned the rollercoaster being 160ft tall; I would be SHOCKED if a coaster built in 1907 was anywhere near 160ft, unless the park had a DeLorean to the 80s and back. The coaster supposedly was torn down by a hailstorm? What was it made out of glass? Alot of info in that TU link seems very fishy to me.

https://rcdb.com/14659.htm
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 07:03:48 AM by I-10east »

Adam White

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2018, 10:08:13 AM »
Jacksonville and jaguars definitely have a more significant correlation than many think.
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I-10east

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2018, 05:25:46 PM »
^^^We're not in South America, but there is a notable correlation here. Esp for a mid sized US city. The Range of the Jaguar is a notable jaguar exhibit at the zoo.

Tacachale

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2018, 05:55:41 PM »
I remember reading about "Madame Morelli, the vivacious Queen of the Jaguars" years ago. Quite a way to make a living.
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Adam White

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2018, 06:14:42 PM »
^^^We're not in South America, but there is a notable correlation here. Esp for a mid sized US city. The Range of the Jaguar is a notable jaguar exhibit at the zoo.

I don't think Jax had any real connection to Jaguars before they named the team. Clearly, they chose the name for the alliterative value more than anything else (well, that and the fact that a jaguar is fierce or whatever). I didn't think that Range of the Jaguar existed before the team - though I could totally be wong about that.
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Wacca Pilatka

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2018, 07:16:43 PM »
Jacksonville did have a connection in that the zoo was a pioneer in breeding melanistic jaguars.  Most black jaguars in captivity are descendants of Zorro, a jaguar from the Jax Zoo. 

But alliteration and exclusivity  (no other American pro sports teams have Jaguars as a nickname) were at least equally important factors behind the name choice.  I'd also suggest it also factored in that the two other finalists, Sharks and Stingrays, don't reflect well on Jacksonville tourism.
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KenFSU

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2018, 07:48:08 PM »
^^^We're not in South America, but there is a notable correlation here. Esp for a mid sized US city. The Range of the Jaguar is a notable jaguar exhibit at the zoo.

I don't think Jax had any real connection to Jaguars before they named the team. Clearly, they chose the name for the alliterative value more than anything else (well, that and the fact that a jaguar is fierce or whatever). I didn't think that Range of the Jaguar existed before the team - though I could totally be wong about that.

Unfortunately, wrong on all counts, friend  ;)

Here's the chapter on the Jaguars name from the book I wrote a few years ago.

We've actually got a stronger historical connection to the animal than to the team.










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Adam White

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2018, 07:54:00 AM »
Well, I stand corrected, then!

Clearly Zorro and his progeny can be considered a significant link between jaguars and Jacksonville.

(I'd quibble the significance of Mme Morelli's jaguars, as these were part of the Bostock Exposition and traveled the world, not just Jax - Bostock himself is buried in Abney Park cemetery in North London, right around the corner from my old apartment).
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Steve

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Re: Call Box: Before Disney, there was Dixieland
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2018, 08:28:16 AM »
I didn't think that Range of the Jaguar existed before the team - though I could totally be wong about that.

That you are correct about - it opened in 2003, and was half funded by The Better Jacksonville Plan, and half by donors (but if I remember the Weaver family was far and away the largest private donor).