Get Wild in New Jersey
By Renée S. Gordon
Alexander Boardman was a train conductor who grew weary of extracting sand residue from his cars. His solution, a wooden path, was first put into operation in Atlantic City in 1870. In 1900 the City of Wildwood, New Jersey implemented the use of a “boardwalk” that was laid out on the sand, was 450-ft. long, and was removed in winter. It was so successful that three years later the city constructed a wider, elevated boardwalk.
Today that boardwalk is two miles long and you can walk or ride aboard a Wildwoods Boardwalk Sightseer Tram Car with electric cars that date from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. (Five of the cars were put into service in Wildwoods in 1949.) Rides are $3 each way.
There are a number of unique things about Wildwood, not the least of which is its Doo Wop legacy as evidenced by the singular architecture. In the early 1990s the Mid-Atlantic Center For The Arts designated architectural styles developed in the 1950s and ’60s that featured vibrant colors, plastic palm trees and flamingoes, swooping lines, space motifs, neon lights Polynesian and Chinese themes and low modular furnishings Doo Wop. The architecture was named after a singing style that was the rage at the time.
The Doo Wop Preservation League Museum is dedicated to protecting and showcasing the sites and history that link Doo Wop and Wildwood. In the 1950s the city consciously chose to capitalize on pop culture. The buildings themselves were the embodiment of a teen dream and an advertisement for all the fun to be had. The first motel built in this style was the Ebb Tide in 1957. The museum offers guided tours and a downloadable 133-site driving tour.
Wildwood was ground zero for rock and roll in the early days and important venues are included on the tour. Chubby Checker knew he had a winner with the Twist and he offered to perform at the Rainbow Supper Club for free to promote his song and dance. The rest is history. Others who performed at clubs throughout the city include The Supremes (20 shows for $3,500), Danny and the Juniors, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Bill Haley and the Comets.
Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks have been voted one of the “Top Three Amusement Parks in the World” by Amusement Today. Will and Bill Morey began construction on what would become a seaside amusement complex in 1969 and have been continuously making additions since that time. The piers and parks encompass six blocks, 18 acres, and amusement piers with more than 100 attractions. The Morey’s entertainment empire also provides accommodations in the form of resorts. Each of the piers offers a different experience and singular highlights. The Pan American, Port Royal and Starlux Boutique Hotels are designed to meet the demands and budget of every traveler and each hotel offers packages and promotions that are available online.
Adventure Pier’s School of Rock Stage provides a full schedule of musical entertainment while artBOX gets your creative juices flowing. artBOX, an interactive art experience, is presented in and around a structure created from 11 repurposed shipping containers. Workshops under the tutelage of a resident artist provide an opportunity for participants, of all ages, to make and take a wonderful art object. Some classes require a fee and appointments are necessary.
Mariner’s Pier opened in the late 1970s and continues to provide a home for the classic amusement pier rides. On this pier Morey’s Giant Ferris Wheel gives guests the unique chance to dine with a view. A gourmet Breakfast in the Sky, complete with white linen and china service, can be reserved Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays in July and August. Reservations are required (609-846-1624). Mariner’s Pier is anchored by a waterpark.
The 20-ft. tall, 4,400-pound, KONG returned to Surfside Pier this year. The 60-ft. tall thrill ride featuring the classic Kong, clad in an “I Love Wildwood” T-shirt is perched atop a lighthouse as he attempts to swat the riders nearest to him. The ride must be seen after dark to get the full effect of Kong snorting smoke and fog and the LED lights that illuminate each vehicle. Directly below the amusement you can purchase souvenirs at the 3,000-sq. ft. KONG & Co. Additionally guests have access to charging stations, refreshments and comfortable seating.
There are many things that make Morey’s Piers special, including brief announcements about the history of Wildwood that are broadcast throughout the day, as well as the shops and dining venues that line every inch of the boardwalk. Each ride is classified as a High Thrill Ride, Moderate Thrill Ride, Mild Thrill Ride, Extreme Ride or Added Attraction so you can select appropriate experiences. Added Attractions require additional tickets. Brochures are readily available that contain maps, pictures, ride intensity levels and height restrictions.
Stubborn Brothers Beach Bar and Grille, a new dining venue, is the best place to eat and enjoy the ocean view. The menu offerings are numerous and each dish is delicious. Highlights here include the signature drinks and dolphin sightings.
Odds of Encountering Children: Extremely high.
– Photos by Renée S. Gordon
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.