Thursday, August 06, 2015

Special Guest Post! Hunt's Pier, Wildwood, New Jersey

Today's post has been graciously brought to you by GDB reader & pal Ken Martinez! Ken is aware of the fact that my slide collection has mostly been scanned and shared here over the past nine years, and he wanted to help out by providing some content for additional posts. 

Ken's interests go beyond Disneyland - he is fascinated by vintage amusement parks all over the U.S.A. And his collection of postcards reflects that interest (he gave me a list - it was impressive). For this "special guest post", he scanned seven postcards from Hunt's Pier, from Wildwood, New Jersey - a place that was barely "on my radar", though I had heard of it.

Along with the excellent scans, Ken wrote some great, informative descriptions. Like I said, "above and beyond"! Here's Ken:

A Postcard Trip to Hunt's Pier:

Hunt's Pier was a traditional seaside amusement park which was built in 1957, in Wildwood, New Jersey, the city itself home to several other amusement parks. The ride area was located on a modern concrete pier, while across the way was the Ocean Center shop complex topped with a real grass miniature golf course. It's very evident that several of the attractions at this park were heavily influenced by Disneyland which opened a couple of years earlier.

Opposite the entrance to Hunt's Pier is the "Skyline Golf" miniature golf course built in 1958 on the roof of the Ocean Center complex which itself was home to various concessions. Across the street is the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) "Flyer" roller coaster, which operated from 1957 to 1988. It was designed by John Allen who would go on to design other noteworthy wooden roller coasters in the 1960s and 70s. It was a mere 36 feet in height.

The "Wacky Shack" was a spook-house dark ride which opened in 1964. Apparently the letters that spelled "WACKY SHACK" were animated in that they rocked back and forth to catch the attention of passersby. Through the years of collecting postcards and books, I have found that several amusement parks at this time had their own version of a "Wacky Shack" dark ride complete with the crooked and topsy-turvy facade.

The blue and orange ship in this postcard image was known as "Skua" and opened in 1962. Reminiscent of Disneyland's Pirate Ship Restaurant, it was actually a walk-through attraction. Visitors would enter through a menacing skull shaped facade to explore the caverns below and eventually wound up on the deck of the pirate ship. Inside were scenes of animated pirates, a talking parrot and other humorous scenes as well as funhouse elements like a mirror room, maze and tilt room.

The compact "Log Flume" ride which opened in 1970 was designed and constructed by Arrow Development of Mountain View California. The timber poles used to support the flume structure and fiberglass lumberjack statue help to fill out the theme and assist in blending the "Jungleland" attraction next door. Note the "Jungleland" boats at the bottom of the postcard.

"Jungleland" opened in 1959 and was obviously inspired by Disney's Jungle Cruise. Here we have the entrance through a group of thatched huts. Signs on the attraction claimed you will see a family of friendly hippos, charging crocs, elephants at a watering hole, a mad witch doctor and various other jungle scenes. It even comes complete with underwater rail guide system.

The four jungle boats which held 14 passenger each were named African Queen, Congo Kitty, Jungle Belle and Swamp Lilly. Like Disney's Jungle Cruise attraction, each boat had an operator "tour guide" who would speak through a dispatch radio and speaker system to provide humorous commentary on the various jungle scenes.

In the backdrop beyond "Jungleland" is the "Golden Nugget Mine" which opened in 1960. This attraction was a combination rollercoaster and dark ride experience and was designed by John Allen and PTC. Note the boarding station with the old western town facade where you boarded the mine cars. Once aboard the mine cars, riders were carried up two chain-lifts to the top and coasted along, passing scenes of a Boot Hill, a covered wagon, an old prospector and other various mining scenes. Coincidentally this attraction opened the same year as Knott's "Calico Mine Ride". Note the crocodiles and underwater guide rail system in the Jungleland ride.

Well that was just some of the highlights that awaited visitors to Hunt's Pier back in the 1950's through 1970's provided by my postcard collection. I hope you enjoyed your visit.

Source material:
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Hunt's Pier (Images of America) copyright 2011 by Rob Ascough and Al Alven
Roller Coaster Database

MANY THANKS to Ken for sharing these scans from his collection, along with the fun and educational text! If we are lucky, we may get more posts from Ken in the future. Let him know if you enjoyed this one!


Nanook said...


Ahhh - Wild days at Wildwood-! It's been a long time since I've visited the piers along the Jersey shore, but these images bring back great memories.

Thanks for sharing these.

TokyoMagic! said...

What happened to the Hunt's Pier amusement area? Are any of these attractions still standing today? I definitely enjoyed today's post!!! Thanks, Major and Ken!

Chiana_Chat said...

Fantastic pics & write-up of a place that's new(s) to me - thanks Maj & Ken! :D

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, I assume you've been to many parks on your ACE trips. For me, with several of the parks featured in my postcard collection, it’s either a case of I haven't been to a specific park or it has been so long ago that my memories are faded. I’d love to hear of your experiences and memories of these places if you’ve been. I hope you enjoyed.

TokyoMagic!, from what I understand, the pier is still standing, but the amusements are gone. There were plans to restore the “Golden Nugget Mine” which never came to be, however the mechanical guts, track and vehicles were sold to Knoebels Amusement Park (a place known for resurrecting classic attractions) and is now open and operating as “Black Diamond”. For amusements in Wildwood today, it’s Morey’s Piers that visitors go to.

Chiana_Chat, I'm so glad you enjoyed these and am happy to see you commenting here again.

Major, thanks for the nice intro and allowing me the opportunity to share my collection with your readers.

HBG2 said...

Those "Whacky Shacks" are considered classics. They were designed by Bill Tracey, a name spoken in hushed, reverent tones by dark ride aficionados. He had quite a wild imagination. His rides were lurid, tasteless, crazy, and a lot of fun.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, clearly you’ve been to Wildwood, but did you ever visit Hunt’s Pier?

TokyoMagic! and Chiana, Ken gets all of the credit for this one.

K. Martinez, I am looking forward to posting more of your vintage postcards! And I think the GDB readers are going to enjoy them too.

HBG2, I only wish I could have experienced an original Whacky Shack - the crazier and more lurid, the better!

Nanook said...


Definitely to Hunt's Pier. The problem is, of course, it's been so long (the 1980's), it all blurs-together. But it remains one gigantic great time - not just the 'rides', but the people, the food, the smells (good ones, please-!) the piers, the 'shore' (as they say on the east coast), and the overall good fun.

The "Wild days at Wildwood" phrase I used in my initial comment was 'stolen' from the title of an animated, UCLA student film, from the 1980's, that was made by a former resident of the area. His simple animated images (and sounds) captured many of the above-mentioned sensations pretty-damn well, and was fun to watch in the context of a recent visit to the area.

K. Martinez said...

HBG2, thanks for that extra bit of info. I love reading about the names and people behind the amusement industry. Like the Disney Parks it's endless as to what one can find out on the subject of amusement and theme parks. I hope you enjoyed.

Nanook, That's the problem with my travels of almost 35 years ago to all the amusement parks I visited. It all sort of blurs together as you said. The only "park" I remember outside of California really well was Walt Disney World and that was because of multiple visits, I had so much material on it and I was obsessed with it. All the other parks outside California were a single visit to each. Because it's been so long, it's almost like it happened to someone else.

Thanks again, Major.

Nanook said...

@ Ken-

Although there's a bit more 'blurring' than individually-isolated memories, here's a list of parks from memory: Santa Cruz; Cedar Point; Elitch Gardens (the original location); Lakeside; Lake Compounce; King's Island/Dominion; Americana (LeSourdsville) Lake Amusement Park; Busch Gardens: The Dark Continent/The Old Country; Six Flags Over: Texas, Georgia; both Marriott parks; Astroworld; Mountain Park; Lincoln Park; Paragon Park; Canobie Lake; Conneaut Lake Amusement Park; Kennywood (of course-!!); Coney Island; Rye & Rockaway Playland; Dorney Park; Great Adventure; Knoebels Grove; Seabreeze; Darien Lake; Canada's Wonderland; West Edmonton Mall; Crystal Beach Amusement Park; Hershey Park and Lakemont Park. Whew.

I'm certain there are a few others - but I remember (at least) a little bit of each one listed here - if not a great deal from my fav's: Cedar Point; Elitch's and Kennywood - fer sure. (I've left-out WDW and all the So. Cal amusement/theme parks, as those should be taken as a given.

Dean Finder said...

What fortuitous timing. I'm in the Wildwoods this week. I'll try to find those places.

In other news, this article about people identifying locations and people from old films made me think of this group and the uncanny ability of some of the commenters to identify dates from a few tailfins.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I can only imagine that the memories are unclear… but at least you have the experience! I think of places that I went when I was a small child (Jungleland, for instance), and even though I only recall bits and pieces of those visits, the overall impression is one of fun and happiness. Which is a good thing!

K. Martinez, you might be interested in a blog called the SECRET FUN BLOG… if you do some searches, the author (Kirk Demarais) loves spook houses, fun houses, and similar attractions. I love his write-ups of his summer road trips! Unfortunately it looks like he has stopped blogging, but his old posts are still a lot of fun.

Nanook, that is quite a list! How in the world did you ever see them all?

Dean Finder, thanks for that link to the interesting L.A. Times article! Very interesting, and it does remind me of the way readers on this blog are able to pick up on tiny details.

Nanook said...


Over many a summer (mostly), using both airplanes and a lot of driving-!

K. Martinez said...

Major, It looks like an interesting site. I've just bookmarked it. Thanks for the tip and link.

Nancy said...

Never been to Wildwood, "down the shore" as we do say here in the Northeast lol, and these are great! I know the Wildwood of today wouldnt be this awesome, but I still hope to visit one of these days.

Thanks, Ken! Beautiful collection. :-)

K. Martinez said...

You're welcome, Nancy! Glad you enjoyed.