Beautiful is the sun, O strangers,
When you come so far to see us!
All our town in peace awaits you,
All our doors stand open for you;
You shall enter all our wigwams,
For the heart’s right hand we give you.
It’s hard to believe it’s taken theme park designers just 161 years since Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote The Song of Hiawatha to develop Wigwam World™ here in Sarasota Springs, Florida.
“The problem was keeping the tent flaps open 24/7,” explains park publicist Samantha Eakin.
Flaps haven’t been the only delay.
Just up the road in Tampa, judges spent decades mulling over appeals in several cases regarding the lands of the ancient Akanetum native American people who wanted to open a themed casino on the 2,500 acre site rather than what they saw as the stereotyping Wigwam World™ theme park.
“We’re not stereotyping Indians at all,” says Eakin. “There are all sorts of tent-based rides in the park. It’s just that Wigwam World™ has a certain ring to it. A bit like ‘golliwog’.”
Controversy aside, the special pre-launch media day at Wigwam World™ was a hoot.
Before entering the gates you must first untangle yourself from the tassels that hang low from the massive Mini Ha-Ha™ as the bongo drums beat in a rhythmic harmony that really gets you in the party mood.
The ticket staff have all blacked up their faces with shoe polish so they can effect a stunning, ivory-white grin for each customer and welcome them with a “you have a mighty fine day ma’am.”
The roller-coasters are sublime – particularly Jews Nose™, a crooked corkscrew that lasts forever; The Mafia™, which includes a lot of Italian curses; Greek Drachma™ that’s known for its sudden crashes; and Oil Gulch™, a tour de force of corruption in the Middle East – in a 120-second thriller ride.
Food at the park is served in tents – where else? The picks:
Black Sam’s™ serves tender grits.
Mother Russia™ dishes up watery cabbage soup.
“Y’see, there’s nothing to the Injun claims,” says Eakin. “We embrace all cultures.”
Open daily 9-9.