Who Remembers Pirates Theme Center Or Los Piratas In Miami?

Pirate’s Theme Center opened up (7090 Coral Way) in December of 1983, just a few short miles from my home in Westchester.

My world wasn’t the same after that day.

Sure, there was Castle Park (later Malibu Grand Prix) right next to Midway Mall (now Mall of the Americas), Chuck E Cheese in Hialeah right on 49th next to the recently opened Toy R Us, and the Mark Twain’s Riverboat Playhouse right near Don Carter’s Bowling Alley on Kendall Drive & 137th.

Pirates Theme Center was for us Westchester & South Miami kids.

Most folks who remember Pirates called it by the name popularized by abuelitas, who brought their grandchildren there, Los Piratas.

Pirates Theme Center was filled with the hottest arcade games of the day and a bunch of interactive games where your wins were paid in tickets that would be traded in for a whistle or some other item you just had to have when you were a kid.

Later, they opened a second wing in the back of the building, including one of those ball pits and bumper boats, amongst other attractions.

Did Pirates Have Good Pizza?

My parents brought my sister and me to Pirates regularly, and we attended a handful of birthday celebrations which meant hangin’ in the theater, eating & watching the animatronics show. I specifically recall the pizza tasting good, but I was just a kid, but maybe I remember it all wrong.

My most vivid memory at Pirates Theme Center was my first encounter with Dragon’s Lair’s animated video game.

It probably holds the lifetime record for taking the most considerable amount of quarters from me; I was horrible at it (and it was 50 cents a game back then).

Newspaper Articles about Pirates

The MiamiHerald Newspaper, 12-23-83
The Miami Herald Newspaper Part 1, 12-29-83
The Miami Herald Newspaper Part 2, 12-29-83
The Evening Independent Newspaper, 12-30-83

Look What I’ve Got!

Pirates Arcade Coin that I own

If you’ve got any Pirates or Piratas stories, for that matter, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear them. And if you’ve got any pictures, me love you long time.

*Before its incarnation as a child’s entertainment center, it was Davidson Lumber Yard; it’s now a Pollo Tropical.

**Pirates Theater picture courtesy of Marisol Geilin Sosa

39 thoughts on “Who Remembers Pirates Theme Center Or Los Piratas In Miami?”

  1. Yeah, I remember Los Piratas quite well, being a Miami native now in his 40’s. My dad would take me and my sister there all the time ….loved it. If I can recall where everything was situated there, you had to cross a small drawbridge to get in, once you came in through the entrance, the arcade was directly to your right ( I remember tons of great games, but I vividly remember the mechanical arm wrestling machine, as well as the Canon guns you’d shoot at targets to win tickets. Right across the arcade (to the left of the entrance was the area where you would order your pizza and drinks, further to the right of that was a small sports bar for the adults, across from the sports bar (to the right of the arcade) was the little animatronic theater (dining area) made to look like the head of a pirate ship with animations puppets, and behind them was a movie screen that would show cartoons to kids. If you kept going down the corridor, past the sports bar and theater you came upon the expansion area of Pirates which was like an indoor carnival, complete with bounce houses, ferris wheels, merry go rounds, bumper cars, bumper boats, fun houses and all kinds of games to win more tickets. I went there often for birthday parties of fellow students and recall the pizza being quite good, though the taste buds of 7 and 8 year Olds don’t discriminate much lol.

  2. Nobody has mentioned the mechanical bull. Maybe because it was for adults, but it was pretty realistic, I tore a shirt swinging my left arm.

  3. is there any chance I can get photos or screen grans of the inside interior shots of the place from that? I know it is a lot to ask!

  4. Thanks for your post that brought back great memories! I had my 5th birthday here and I just transferred those videos to DVD, the animatronic Parrot and pirate is in there and shots of the boats the carousel and the Ferris wheel. My grandma will be 101 soon and until recently she remembered Los Piratas. It was a magical place, mainly bc of the memories of being with people you loved and who are mostly no longer here. Thank you again!

  5. Man I remember this place so much. My grandfather (RIP abuelito) used to bring me here to play games and ride the rides inside. Until they sold their house, my grandfather had these 2 fabric-like scrolls with printed pictures of me hanging up in his room. One was a western wanted poster and the other one had super heroes on it. I don’t remember a lot from my childhood, but I do remember this place. Was walking around the mall today running errands in my town and walked by an arcade and it made me think of my old man and those times. I miss him every day. I hope someone out there has pics of this place to share. I’m hoping this isn’t a dead comment thread =(

  6. Yes! I remember this. Thank you for this article. I only went here once (my family lived on a shoe-string budget and this was considered a treat), but I was honestly starting to think I had made this place up in my little kid mind. Am I crazy or do I vaguely remember this place actually being shaped something like a ship and having a pseudo-mote in the front??? Maybe I’m confusing it with something else.

  7. I am looking for any kind of pictures (signage and castle outside with drawbridge) people may have of this place. I remember it very vividly. One of the regulars in the late 80s we used to call “Santa” and he would spent time playing Tetris at Pirates. They had the pneumatic Street Fighter arcade game for a short while. Cabal, Vigilante, Chiller, Splatterhouse, R-Type, VS Super Mario Bros, Blades of Steel, The Main Event and a pile of other machines. They close around 1990 or so before Street Fighter II was released a year later. The lot itself was worth more money as a sale which might be part of why dwindling arcade interest played a role in that. It was far ahead of its time and I wish I could recreate this place myself. I opened a 450 game arcade years later in Tennessee that is still running but will always have fond memories of Pirates.

  8. They had a game where you threw balls into trash cans that opened and closed, which had tweety bird and Sylvester the cat stuffed animals attached to the lids. I loved this place so much!

  9. I had my 1st birthday here and I have different pictures but recently my Abuelo who raised me passed away and I found an old picture of him and I from Pirates. From an indoor carousel and arcade games to just the feel of being inside without having to suffer the rain or heat. I also remember next to it was an empty lit where the car dealership is at now and they had pony rides. This was early 90’s

  10. Cindy, I can remember you young, energetic, beautiful attentive to the parties! There was and there is no place like
    Pirates Family entertaiment. Yes dam good food, incredible party menus, fun for the entire family!
    It is nostalgic to know it does not exist anymore. A place of love and where most of our kids had a very special birthday
    celebration as well as fun adult memories! Hope future generations decide to take again a similar magical place for
    generations to come! Thanks for sharing your stories – It warmed my heart! Onelia

  11. Beast , I wouldn’t say there isn’t a place like this anymore as times have changed and kids other options to go to. I have a daughter and I have taken her to Chuck E Cheese, Dave n Busters, and in Doral they have trampoline parks, and ziplines, and bowling and laser tag. I mean I get it, Pirates and places like Castle Park felt like the best it could ever get, but those times were magical because all of it was pretty much something new. What kids get today is the advancing of what techology has been able to provide.

  12. How can I forget…I was one of the Project Designer’s as well with McBride and the Futura Realty team. Good memories…

  13. My friends and I worked there , probably in 1984. I worked in the kid area that had a ball pit. Played so many video games. Once we were in the Three Kings Parade. So much fun. Many years later I worked at Disney with someone that had worked there too (and was in the parrot costume for the parade) Greg Yapsam..
    Just for fun! ❤

  14. I been there several times when I was a kid and had my 5th birthday party there in 1989. Love those arcade games and kiddie rides and with the school group, saw the animatronic show. Loved this place till it closed in 1991.

  15. I remember that I was introduced to Super Mario Bros. and I became OBSESSED! That’s when I wanted my own NES for christmas! I went there with my cousins and one of them started to shake the ferris wheel and I was dying! I thought we were going to fall and die! LOL!!! I also LOVED their pizza. I loved all their arcades! It was fun! I remember as I grew, I no longer was able to participate in the little kid rides or games which I became upset. But then a year later they closed. :(….. I will always remember!

  16. I’m so glad I’m not the only person that remembers this place. I had my 6 year old Batman themed birthday there and it was my best birthday as a kid. The arcade was incredible and the rides in the back (mini ferris wheel, bumper boats, carousel) were awesome to have indoors. I would ride them for hours. The pizza was good too from what I remember. My abuelita took me there every other Saturday until it closed.

    Was there ever reason why it closed because this place and Riverboat Playhouse seemed always busy with kids and parents? The kids today will never know how awesome that place was…

  17. That place was awesome. Anybody have more pictures of the inside? I remember watching some Dolphins games in there. I remember the video games being awesome. Anecdote: I must have been slow on the uptake cuz the older kids would always steal my quarters while they came out of the change machine. Led to me covering the top of where the quarters come out and protecting my loot.

  18. Man, Los Piratas! I remember getting so freakin’ amped crossing the bridge over their man-made moat and opening up the huge double doors into a fortress of fun. The best arcades games were there – it was probably the only place I ever saw a full-out motion version of the classic After Burner game. I was so sad when it was eventually torn down and first turned into a car dealership.

  19. Omg, I LOVED Pirates!!! We wentwent there so many times. What a shame that there aren’t any placesany places like that anymore.

  20. yes! I had a roger rabbit themed birthday party here… i remember my cake was jessica rabbit! I don’t know where it is… likely somewhere in my parents house, but I had one of those leatherette keychains with the photo encased in plastic that would slide in-out. Anyone remember those things?!?


Leave a Comment