N.J.’s long-lost (however not forgotten) amusement parks nonetheless depart a legacy
Roller coasters, ferris wheels and family-friendly rides mild up the panorama of the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook Bay right down to Cape May County.
Investors first honed in on New Jersey’s shorelines for his or her leisure venues greater than a century in the past, stated Jim Futrell, director and historian of the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Families flocked to the parks for leisure and funky air alongside the shore.
But the epicenter of thrill-seeking within the Garden State wasn’t all the time alongside the coast. Dozens of amusement parks was once discovered in additional city areas however ultimately they couldn’t stand the check of time.
“Some things never change,” Futrell stated. “The heart and soul of the industry in New Jersey is the shore.”
While these amusement parks all through the state may be misplaced — many for many years — for individuals who visited them, they’re not forgotten.
Here are the Garden State’s most memorable amusement parks all through the years:
Palisades Amusement Park
Anyone who spent their childhood inside driving distance of Cliffside Park and Fort Lee was certain to know of Palisades Amusement Park.
The park opened in 1898 as a picnic grove, in line with the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society. Ten years later, by 1908, it had a carousel, rides and a wild west present.
As many years handed, the park would solely develop. People from throughout the nation would make their solution to New Jersey simply to expertise what the park needed to provide.
By the Sixties it was identified on a worldwide scale, with commercials in worldwide publications, stated Vince Gargiulo, the historic society’s founder.
“Even a kid in England could be reading Batman and see an ad for Palisades Amusement Park,” Gargiulo stated.
The amusement park was identified for one factor particularly: the french fries. They bought for 20 cents a serving.
“People still talk about the french fries,” Gargiulo stated. “It was served with vinegar, not with ketchup.”
Growing up, Gargiulo lived inside strolling distance of the park, he stated. Gargiulo referred to as it “Disneyland in New Jersey.”
“There was the smells of the waffles, the sounds of the music, the sounds of the people screaming on the rollercoasters that went down the first hill. It was everything,” Gargiulo stated. “It gave you joy in all five of your senses.”
The park closed in 1971 when the proprietor, who was then 70 years previous, bought the land to builders. The vacation spot is now house to high-rise buildings, in line with the historic affiliation.
Olympic Park in Irvington began as a farm. The proprietor, John Becker, determined to clear a number of acres and construct an amusement park, in line with NAHPA. It first opened in 1887 however didn’t characteristic what it was identified for — the mechanical rides — till 1904.
In the Twenties, admission to the park value solely 10 cents, NAHPA stated. Thousands of individuals got here to expertise what Olympic Park needed to provide yearly. Its peak attendance occurred in 1930, with one million individuals strolling by way of the gates, in line with NAHPA.
The park closed for good in 1965 when proprietor Robert Guenther bought the park rides. Disney purchased the carousel and later put in it at Walt Disney World in Florida, NAHPA stated.
Anyone on the lookout for a thrill within the ‘80s knew where to go: Action Park.
It was an amusement park like no other, said Andy Mulvihill, son of Action Park’s founder, Gene Mulvihill.
Action Park was open in Vernon, New Jersey, from 1976 to 1996. What made its rides distinctive was that the rider was in management. Every rider had a distinct expertise since they may decide how sluggish, quick, secure or thrilling a experience was.
“You control the action. You determined how you did a ride,” Mulvihill stated. “It was known for a place where there were certainly risks … When all is said and done, people say it was the most fun they’ve ever had.”
Mulvihill revealed his guide, “Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park,” in 2020.
The guide’s web site says state inspectors had a troublesome time assessing the park’s rides since no two individuals had the very same expertise on them. “You could get hurt if you’re not careful,” Mulvihill stated.
In the 20 years that Action Park was open, 5 individuals died on account of incidents from the rides.
“He certainly made some mistakes, and some were tragic,” Mulvihill stated of his father. “He actually was not motivated by profit. He just wanted to create a fun place for people to get together.”
The amusement park closed close to the flip of the century resulting from an abundance of lawsuits, amongst different elements.
Woodlynne is greater than a borough in Camden County, New Jersey. It’s the house and namesake of former Woodlynne Amusement Park, which was open from 1895 to 1914.
The New Camden Land Improvement Company commissioned the amusement park’s creation in 1892. Families from the realm would spend the day on the amusement park in the summertime months.
A fireplace destroyed the park in 1914, forcing it to shut, in line with the Woodlynne Borough’s web site. The curler coaster that after stood there’s now at Clementon Amusement Park, additionally in Camden County.
Wildwood is understood for its boardwalk, which hosted Playland Pier. The vacation spot featured a ferris wheel and several other rides proper alongside the seashore.
It opened within the Forties, however was destroyed by a nor’easter in 1992.
Playland Pier wasn’t the one vacation spot for enjoyable in Wildwood. Hunt’s Pier additionally hosted crowds alongside the boardwalk all through the summer season months.
It opened in 1957 and by the ‘60s established itself as one of the most noteworthy boardwalk-style amusement parks in the country.
The park then declined and ended up as a storage facility for Morey’s Piers.
Pennsville’s Riverview Beach opened greater than a century in the past, in 1891. What began as a humble vacation spot grew to an amusement park full of rides, a dance corridor and a curler rink.
The park was open for greater than 75 years. It closed in 1967 when the ferry discontinued its service to the park.
Bertrand Island Park
Located in Mount Arlington, Bertrand Island Park was a well-liked New Jersey summer season attraction from the early Twenties to 1983.
The park started as a showering seashore, however later expanded to incorporate 20 rides, together with a picket curler coaster and a carousel. An unique horse from the carousel is on show on the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum.
The amusement park closed resulting from competitors from larger theme parks within the space and the evolution of Lake Hopatcong right into a year-round group, in line with the Morris County authorities’s web site.
This article is a part of “Unknown New Jersey,” an ongoing sequence that highlights fascinating and little-known tales about our previous, current, and future — all the weird issues that make our nice state what it’s. Got a narrative to pitch? Email it to [email protected].
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Camille Furst could also be reached at [email protected].