Thursday, October 25, 2012

Daytona's Atomic Tunnel



I admit it, I love roadside attractions, in particular those of Florida's golden age of tourism.  The sunshine state has been home to many unique attractions that did not survive the age of the interstate like Six Gun Territory, Tom Gaskin's Cypress Tree Museum, the Great Masterpiece, Floridaland and more. Check out the Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions website for a good list.  One of the wackiest on the list has to be Atomic Tunnel which was located on U.S. 1 just south of Daytona near Port Orange.


The Atomic Tunnel was the brainchild of W.R. Johnson who turned his 1950s bomb shelter to use as a tourist trap according to a history on the Vintage Roadside website. My friends at VR have done a great deal of work researching the short-lived Volusia County attraction, even finding its original location, which is a good trick from the opposite site of the continent (they are based in Portland.) Jeff and Kelly of Vintage Roadside are committed to keeping stories of unique places place like the Atomic Tunnel alive so they don't vanish from our collective memories.

An early rendition of "Happy" the attraction's mascot


Here's some more of what they were able to find out about the Tunnel:
-The Atomic Tunnel was renamed the "Tunnel of Fantasy" and then the "Tropicolor Fantasy"
- In addition to featuring the attraction's mascot, "Happy" the Walking Fish, other attractions included Smokey the monkey, Mac the macaw, a man-eating piranha and dancing mice

Promotion from when the name was changed to the "Tunnel of Fantasy"

I've rocked Vintage Roadside's awesome homage to the Tunnel in the form of a great red T-shirt for a number of years. So when the opportunity came to team with Vintage Roadside on one of their creations,  a limited edition Atomic Tunnel shirt, I jumped at the chance. They create a quality product and are a first class operation. Every person that wears one will be keeping a bit of old Florida alive. And at the rapid rate the quaint and charming disappear from this state, preserving every little bit helps.




4 comments:

  1. Happy, the walking fish- color me intrigued!
    (And you already know what a fan I am of Jeff n Kell!)

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  2. Seriously....Is there any photo/video existing of the walking fish?

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  3. If it exists, Jeff K. will find it.

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  4. As a very young boy living in Allendale Florida I found myself riding my bike around that area and remember going down into the tunnel and looking around. It was not fully underground
    maybe about 80% underground and lots of plants and things. This was roughly about 1967 and I was about 8 years old. Glad to find this site I have always wondered what that place was, thank. Jim P.

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