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HomenewsNew Jersey's Long-gone Amusement Parks Still Leave a Mark!

New Jersey’s Long-gone Amusement Parks Still Leave a Mark!

The Jersey Shore is illuminated by roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and family-friendly rides from Sandy Hook Bay to Cape May County.

According to Jim Futrell, director and historian of the National Amusement Park Historical Association, investors began exploiting the New Jersey shoreline for entertainment sites more than a century ago. Families came to the parks near the shoreline for recreation and cool air.

However, the center of excitement in the Garden State was not always on the coast. Historically, there were dozens of amusement parks in urban areas, but finally many failed to endure.

“There are some things that never change,” Futrell added. The shore is the center and soul of New Jersey’s industrial sector.

These state-wide amusement parks may be lost to those who frequented them, many of whom did so for decades, but they will not be forgotten.

Here are New Jersey’s most iconic amusement parks throughout the years:

Palisades Amusement Park

Anyone who grew up around Cliffside Park and Fort Lee was undoubtedly familiar with Palisades Amusement Park.

The Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society reports that the park debuted as a picnic grove in 1898. In 1908, the park had a carousel, rides, and Wild West entertainment.

Over the years, the park would continue to expand. People from throughout the nation traveled to New Jersey to enjoy what the park had to offer.

The historical society’s founder, Vince Gargiulo, stated that by the 1960s, it was well-known around the world due to advertisements in international periodicals.

“Even a child in England may read Batman and see an advertisement for the Palisades amusement park,” said Gargiulo.

Advertisements for the Palisades amusement park stated it contained the world’s largest saltwater pool, but measurements have not been confirmed. The Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society has provided this image.

The amusement park was particularly well-known for its french fries. They were sold at $0.20 per portion.

Gargiulo stated, “People are still talking about the fries.” It was served with vinegar rather than ketchup.

According to Gargiulo, he grew up within walking distance of the park. Gargiulo termed it “New Jersey’s Disneyland.”

“There were the aromas of waffles, the sounds of music, and the noises of roller coaster riders screaming down the first hill. “It was everything,” remarked Gargiulo. It satisfied all five of your senses.

When the park’s then-70-year-old owner sold the land to developers in 1967, the park was closed. According to the historical association, the location is presently populated with towering structures.

The Palisades Amusement Park memorial in Cliffside Park reads, “This is where we were joyful and where we grew!” The Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society has provided this image.

Olympic Stadium

Newark’s Olympic Park was formerly a farm. According to NAHPA, the owner, John Becker, planned to clear a few acres and construct an amusement park. It was opened in 1887, but it wasn’t until 1904 that it got the mechanical rides for which it is famous.

According to NAHPA, park admission in the 1920s was merely ten cents. Each year, thousands of individuals visited the Olympic Park to enjoy its amenities. According to NAHPA, the peak attendance came in 1930, when one million individuals entered the gates.

The park was permanently shuttered in 1965 when the rides were sold by the park’s owner, Robert Guenther. According to NAHPA, Disney purchased the carousel and later installed it at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Activity Park

In the 1980s, everyone seeking excitement knew where to go: Action Park.

Andy Mulvihill, son of Action Park founder Gene Mulvihill, remarked that it was unlike any other amusement park.

Aqua Skoot was a ride at Action Park in which riders rode sleds down a steep slide. Andy Mulvihill/Penguin Random House provided the image.

Action Park was operating in Vernon, New Jersey, from 1976 to 1996. What distinguished his rides was that the driver was in charge. Each driver had a unique experience, as they determined the ride’s speed, safety, and excitement.

You direct the action. They dictate how you must drive,” stated Mulvihill. “It was recognized for being a site where there were risks… People claim it was the most enjoyable time they’ve ever had.”

2020 marked the publication of Mulvihill’s book Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park.

According to the website for the book, governmental inspectors had trouble evaluating the amusement park’s rides because no two riders had exactly the same experience. “You could get hurt if you’re not careful,” Mulvihill warned.

At Action Park, the Air Slide was one of the numerous rides. The driver determined whether these rides were exciting, dangerous, or both. Andy Mulvihill/Penguin Random House provided the image.

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Five people have died as a consequence of ride accidents in the 20 years that Action Park has been operating.

“He undoubtedly made mistakes, and some of them were devastating,” said Mulvihill of his father. “In fact, he wasn’t motivated by profit. He simply desired to provide a location where people could gather for enjoyment.”

Around the turn of the century, the amusement park was shuttered due in part to a rash of lawsuits.

Woodlynne Park

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

In 1892, the New Camden Land Improvement Company commissioned the development of an amusement park. During the summer, local families spent the day at the amusement park.

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According to the website of the Woodlynne Borough, the park closed in 1914 after a fire damaged it. The roller coaster that was originally located there is now located at Clementon Amusement Park, also in Camden County.

Parkway Pier

Wildwood’s boardwalk, which featured Playland Pier, is renowned. On the beach, the attraction had a Ferris wheel and several rides.

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

The Playland Pier in Wildwood functioned from the 1940s until it was destroyed by a severe northeastern storm in 1992.

Hunt’s Pier

Playland Pier was not the only amusement destination in Wildwood. During the summer months, Hunt’s Pier’s promenade was also crowded with people.

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By the 1960s, it had become one of the country’s most renowned boardwalk-style amusement parks, having opened in 1957.

The park eventually fell into disrepair and became Morey’s Piers’ storage facility.

In the 1960s, Hunt’s Pier in Wildwood had become one of the country’s most prominent coastal amusement parks, having opened in 1957. The pier seen in 1972 began to decay, ultimately becoming a storage facility for Morey’s Piers.

River View Beach

Riverview Beach in Pennsville first opened in 1891, more than a century ago. What began as a modest retreat developed into an entertainment park featuring rides, a dance hall, and a roller rink.
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The park has been accessible for over seventy-five years. It was closed in 1967 when the park’s ferry service was discontinued.

Riverview Beach in Pennsville was established in 1891 and has developed into a big amusement park featuring attractions, a dance hall, and a roller rink over the years. After the site’s boat service was discontinued in 1967, the park closed.

Park on Bertrand Island

From the early 1920s until 1983, Bertrand Island Park in Mount Arlington was a prominent New Jersey summer attraction.

The park was originally a swimming beach, but it subsequently grew to include twenty rides, including a wooden roller coaster and a carousel. The Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum features an original carousel horse on display.

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

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In this 1920s photograph, the original “Auto Speedway” in Bertrand Island Park may be seen. I wonder whether they had to post signs prohibiting bumping like they do today.

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