Segregated Paradise

Paradise Park was a segregated African-American only resort and tourist attraction in Ocala, FL. The park was developed by Carl Ray and W.M. “Shorty” Davidson. Paradise Park opened on May 20th, 1949 and closed in 1969 due to desegregation which hurt the park drastically. General admission was free at the park but beach access was a fee of 35cents which is $4.09 today in 2021 (towel+storage included). Visitors came from all over with country some traveled from as far as New York and California. The hot spot brought in around 100,000 visitors annually.

Some of the attractions included glass-bottom boat tours, a petting zoo, softball field, animal exhibit (alligators, snakes, monkeys, deer, birds, turtles, lizards, lions and tigers), beach, eater egg hunts, picnics, and beauty pageants. During Christmas a Black santa claus would come down the river located at Paradise Park on a glass-bottom boat to pass out candy and fruit to children.

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