Creator of “Casper the Ghost” and Jungle Land

There have been some very creative people that have called Panama City Beach their home.

Probably the most creative in terms of mass appeal has to Vincent ‘Val’ Valentine. Since the early 60s, Val’s art lives on, in the photos and memories of millions of tourists that have visited Panama City Beach.

He was the creative force behind many attractions on old Panama City Beach.

Every visitor that has taken a snapshot at Jungle Land, Miracle Strip Amusement Park or Shipwreck Island has archived a little of Val Valentine.

Vincent Valentine died in 2015 at the age of 98.

In the early 30s, he was a naturally gifted young artist and illustrator.

He worked for the Max Fleisher Studio in Miami where he illustrated the animations of “Betty Boop” and “Popeye” and was the original creator of “Casper the Ghost.”

Later in his career, his cartooning skills were still very evident in the massive sculptures that he created to house the rides inside “Dante’s Inferno”, “Abominable Snowman” and the “Haunted Castle”.

Val worked at several Florida tourist attractions, including Silver Springs in Ocala. It is very likely that Val met Ross Allen the famed herpetologist, at Silver Springs.

In 1963, Ross Allen opened a satellite operation of his highly successful “Ross Allen’s Jungle Shows” on the corner adjacent to Miracle Strip Amusement Park.

By the end of the season, Mr. Allen was struggling to pay the rent on his new location. (It’s very likely that the tourists that visited PCB at that time had seen snakes and alligators before.) However, Val saw potential in the floundering zoo.

What it needed was a little ‘visual magic’ and lots of imagination…something Val had in boundless quantity.

In 1965, Val purchased the site from Mr. Allen and promptly began to build “Jungle Land”.

On the outside, Jungle Land featured a smoking volcano and a huge waterfall. Inside, the ”Journey to the Center of the Earth” took you through a smoking and cavernous volcano and out into a tropical habitat with birds, reptiles and other exotic creatures.

Val was blessed with the ability to produce attractions with broad crowd-appeal.

His expansive talents came to the attention of the owners of Miracle Strip Amusement Park. He was engaged as art director and designer for the park. From concept to completion, he was involved in all phases of attraction production.

The quality of his attractions were equal to those found at major corporate destinations and allowed Miracle Strip Amusement Park was able to compete in the top ten attractions in Florida.

Without realizing it, many people love Val Valentine. He is responsible for much of the environment on old Panama City Beach that people fell in love with…and are still highly nostalgic for today!

5 thoughts on “Creator of “Casper the Ghost” and Jungle Land

  1. joe nalley says:

    I remember as a child going thru the volcano and actually saw Val, he was headed to the place where he threw “tires” yes tires in the fire to make the black smoke.. long before the govt regulations came along..I remember my dad and mom talking to him about it ad what all he had done to make it happen..

    • Kenny Redd says:

      That’s a good story, Joe. I remember people talking about the tires being burnt in the ‘caldera’ of the volcano. Mr. Valentine is recalled by many as a very good man as well as being very talented.

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