Thursday, August 06, 2015
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.
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 http://rcdb.com/
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!