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N.J.’s long-lost (but not forgotten) amusement parks still leave a legacy

N.J.’s long-lost (but not forgotten) amusement parks still leave a legacy
N.J.’s long-lost (but not forgotten) amusement parks still leave a legacy

Roller coasters, Ferris wheels and family-friendly rides mild up the Jersey Shore surroundings from Sandy Hook Bay all the way in which right down to Cape May County.

Investors first took benefit of the New Jersey shore 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 shoreline.

But the epicenter of thrills within the Garden State hasn’t at all times been on the coast. There was dozens of amusement parks in additional city areas, however ultimately they failed to face the check of time.

“Some things never change,” Futrell stated. “The heart and soul of New Jersey’s industry is the coast.”

While these statewide amusement parks could also be misplaced to those that visited them — many for many years — they’ll not be forgotten.

Here are the Garden State’s most memorable amusement parks over time:

Palisades amusement park

Anyone who spent their childhood close to Cliffside Park and Fort Lee was positive they knew Palisades Amusement Park.

According to the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society, the park opened in 1898 as a picnic grove. Ten years later, in 1908, it had a carousel, rides, and a Wild West present.

Over the a long time, the park would solely develop. People from everywhere in the nation made their option to New Jersey simply to expertise what the park needed to supply.

By the Sixties, it was recognized worldwide, with commercials in worldwide publications, stated Vince Gargiulo, the historic society’s founder.

“Even a kid in England could read Batman and see an ad for the Palisades theme park,” Gargiulo stated.

Palisades amusement park

Advertisements for the Palisades amusement park claimed it had the world’s largest saltwater pool, though the measurements have but to be verified.Courtesy of the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society

The amusement park was recognized for one factor particularly: the french fries. They bought for 20 cents a portion.

“People are still talking about the fries,” Gargiulo stated. “It was served with vinegar, not ketchup.”

Growing up, Gargiulo lived inside strolling distance of the park, he stated. Gargiulo referred to as it “Disneyland in New Jersey”.

“There were the smells of the waffles, the sounds of the music, the sounds of people screeching on the roller coasters going down the first hill. It was everything,” Gargiulo stated. “It gave you pleasure in all five senses.”

The park closed in 1967 when the then 70-year-old proprietor bought the land to builders. The vacation spot is now house to high-rise buildings, in keeping with the historical past affiliation.

Palisades Amusement Park Monument

Cliffside Park is house to the Palisades Amusement Park memorial that claims, “Here we were happy, here we grew!”Courtesy of the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society

Olympic Park

Olympic Park in Irvington started as a farm. The proprietor, John Becker, determined to clear a few acres and construct an amusement park, in keeping with NAHPA. It first opened in 1887, however it wasn’t till 1904 that it had what it was recognized for – the mechanical rides.

In the Twenties, admission to the park was solely 10 cents, NAHPA stated. Thousands of individuals got here annually to expertise what the Olympic Park needed to supply. The peak attendance occurred in 1930, when a million individuals walked by means of the gates, in keeping with NAHPA.

The park closed completely 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.

motion park

Anyone searching for a thrill within the 80s knew the place to go: Action Park.

It was an amusement park like no different, stated Andy Mulvihill, son of Action Park founder Gene Mulvihill.

Aqua Skoot Action Park

At one of many rides at Action Park, Aqua Skoot, riders threw themselves down a steep slide on a sled.Courtesy of Andy Mulvihill/Penguin Random House

Action Park was open from 1976 to 1996 in Vernon, New Jersey. What made his rides distinctive was that the motive force was in management. Each driver had a completely different expertise as they might decide how sluggish, quick, protected or thrilling a experience was.

“You control the action. They dictate how you drive,” Mulvihill stated. “It was known for a place where there were certainly risks … Ultimately, people say it was the most fun they’ve ever had.”

Mulvihill printed his ebook Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park in 2020.

The ebook’s web site states that state inspectors had issue judging the park’s rides as a result of no two individuals had had precisely the identical expertise driving them. “You could get hurt if you’re not careful,” Mulvihill stated.

Airslide Action Park

The Air Slide was one in every of many rides at Action Park. Whether these rides have been thrilling, harmful, or each was as much as the motive force.Courtesy of Andy Mulvihill/Penguin Random House

In the 20 years that Action Park has been open, 5 individuals have died as a results of experience incidents.

“He certainly made some mistakes, and some were tragic,” Mulvihill stated of his father. “Actually, he wasn’t for profit. He just wanted to create a fun place where people could come together.”

The amusement park was closed around the turn of the century due in part to a spate of lawsuits.

Woodlynne Park

Woodlynne is more than just a neighborhood in Camden County, New Jersey. It is the home and namesake of the former Woodlynne Amusement Park, which was open from 1895 to 1914.

The New Camden Land Improvement Company commissioned the construction of the amusement park in 1892. Local families spent the day at the amusement park during the summer months.

A fire destroyed the park in 1914, forcing it to close, according to the Woodlynne Borough’s website. The roller coaster that once stood there is now at Clementon Amusement Park, also in Camden County.

Playland Pier

Wildwood is known for its boardwalk, which featured Playland Pier. The destination featured a Ferris wheel and several rides right on the beach.

It opened in the 1940s but was destroyed by a Northeast in 1992.

Vintage photos of amusement parks in NJ

Playland Pier operated in Wildwood from the 1940s until it was destroyed by a severe northeast in 1992.

Hunt’s Pier

Playland Pier wasn’t the only destination for fun in Wildwood. Hunt’s Pier also hosted crowds along the promenade during the summer months.

Opened in 1957, it established itself by the 1960’s as one of the country’s most notable boardwalk-style amusement parks.

The park then fell into disrepair, ending up as a storage site for Morey’s Piers.

Vintage photos of amusement parks in NJ

Hunt’s Pier in Wildwood opened in 1957 and by the 1960s had established itself as one of the country’s most notable oceanfront amusement parks. The pier shown in 1972 began to deteriorate, eventually ending up as a storage site for Morey’s Piers.

River View Beach

Pennsville’s Riverview Beach opened more than a century ago, in 1891. What started out as a humble getaway grew into an amusement park complete with rides, a dance hall, and a roller rink.

The park has been open for more than 75 years. It was closed in 1967 when the ferry ceased service to the park.

Vintage photos of amusement parks in NJ

Riverview Beach in Pennsville opened in 1891 and over the years has grown into a very large amusement park with rides, a dance hall and a roller rink. The park closed in 1967 after ferry services to the site were discontinued.

Bertrand Island Park

Bertrand Island Park in Mount Arlington was a popular New Jersey summer attraction from the early 1920s through 1983.

The park started out as a swimming beach, but later expanded to include 20 rides, including a wooden roller coaster and a carousel. An original horse from the carousel is on display at the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum.

The amusement park was closed due to competition from larger theme parks in the area and the development of Lake Hopatcong into a year-round community, according to the Morris County government website.

Vintage photos of amusement parks, carnivals and circuses in NJ

The first model of the “Auto Speedway” at Bertrand Island Park can be seen in this photo from the 1920’s. I wonder if they had to put up no-bumping signs like they did today?

This article is part of “Unknown New Jersey”, an ongoing series highlighting interesting and little-known stories about our past, present and future – all the unusual things that make our great state what it is. Do you have a story to tell? email to [email protected].

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