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HomenewsN.j.'s Defunct Amusement Parks Have Left Behind a Lasting Legacy.

N.j.’s Defunct Amusement Parks Have Left Behind a Lasting Legacy.

From Sandy Hook Bay to Cape May County, roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and family-friendly rides illuminate the Jersey Shore.

Jim Futrell, director, and historian of the National Amusement Park Historical Association said investors first targeted New Jersey’s shorelines for entertainment sites over a century ago.

Families visited parks for entertainment and cool air along the sea.

The Garden State’s thrill-seekers weren’t always on the coast. In cities, many amusement parks closed over time.

“Somethings never change,” Futrell said. New Jersey’s shore is the industry’s soul.

The state’s amusement parks may have been gone for decades, but their visitors remember them.

The Garden State’s most iconic amusement parks:

Palisades Park

Palisades Amusement Park was familiar to everyone who grew up between Cliffside Park and Fort Lee.

According to the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society, the park opened in 1898 as a picnic grove. By 1908, it had a carousel, rides, and a western performance.

N.j.'s Defunct Amusement Parks Have Left Behind a Lasting Legacy.

The park expanded over decades. National visitors came to New Jersey to see the park.

Vince Gargiulo, the historical society’s founder, said worldwide periodicals advertised it by the 1960s.

Gargiulo suggested a kid in England reading Batman could see a Palisades Amusement Park ad. French fries made the amusement park famous. Servings cost 20 cents. “French fries are still talked about,” Gargiulo remarked. “Vinegar was served, not ketchup.”

Gargiulo said he grew up walking to the park. “Disneyland in New Jersey,” Gargiulo said.

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“There were waffle smells, music, and rollercoaster screams down the first hill. “Everything,” Gargiulo said. “It delighted your five senses.”

The 70-year-old owner sold the park to developers in 1971. The historical association reports high-rises at the destination.

Olympic Park

Irvington Olympic Park was a farm. According to NAHPA, John Becker cleared a few acres and built an amusement park. It debuted in 1887 but didn’t have mechanical rides until 1904.

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NAHPA reported park entry was 10 cents in the 1920s. Annually, thousands visit Olympic Park. NAHPA reported a million visitors in 1930, its highest.

After selling the rides in 1965, Robert Guenther shuttered the park. NAHPA stated Disney bought and installed the carousel at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Action Park

Action Park was the 1980s adrenaline spot.

Andy Mulvihill, son of Action Park founder Gene Mulvihill, called it a unique entertainment park.

Vernon, New Jersey, had Action Park from 1976 to 1996. Rider control made its rides distinctive. Since riders could control ride speed, safety, and thrills, each ride was unique.

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“You decide. “You choose your ride,” Mulvihill remarked.
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It was notorious for dangers. It’s the most fun people’ve ever had.”

Five individuals died on Action Park rides in 20 years.

“He certainly made some mistakes, and some were tragic,” Mulvihill recalled of his father. He wasn’t profit-driven. He just wanted to provide a fun space for people to get together.”

The amusement park closed near the turn of the century due to an abundance of lawsuits, among other causes.

Woodlynne Park

Woodlynne is more than a borough in Camden County, New Jersey. It’s the home and namesake of historic Woodlynne Amusement Park, operational from 1895 until 1914.

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The New Camden Land Improvement Company built the amusement park in 1892. Summertime saw local families at the amusement park.

The Woodlynne Borough website states that a 1914 fire closed the park. The roller coaster moved to Clementon Amusement Park in Camden County.

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