Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1980 – Hunt’s Pier – Part 1

I almost can’t describe how incredible how it was to work here in 1980.

I was 17. You had to be 18 to work on Hunt’s Pier. Somehow my dad had a contact and got me in there.

I was in a band and no longer a busboy at the Dolphin restaurant. I was on the boardwalk.  This was like being a key player in the circus.

When I think of working in the restaurant I think of working with a nice group of pretty waitresses and Greek cooks and the like. When I took the job at Hunt’s in 1980, it was the perfect job for a and 18-year-old boy.

At this point in this saga, I would rather have the professionals describe what the job was.

I worked at the Golden Nugget Mine Ride.

It was the second most popular ride on the pier. Right behind the Log Flume.

Once I got the job there I got my loser friend Anthony a job there at Jungle Land and my most beloved friend Richard a job there working on the Log Flume.

Working on Hunt’s Pier was different from any job I had ever had before. Pool boy. Crap. Bus boy. Crap. Running the controls of the second most popular amusement ride on the pier every night. Magic.

As a writer I’ve written everything about my life in great detail.

Living in Wildwood in the summer is nearly a surreal experience.

I don’t know if I can write this.

I see it. I see my sister Janice, but I’m struggling to pull it all together.

There’s so much.

I think about writing this piece and I almost don’t know where to go because it’s so rich. But I suppose that’s a good thing.

There’s almost too much to tell.

Hunt’s Pier. This could roll through 2019 and hold up the demise of the Union Jacks and my time to California.

I just don’t want to scrimp on the value of my time there.

My father got me the job there because he knew some of the guys through his banking contacts.

Getting a job there was getting the coolest summer job on Earth back on 1980.

I’ve been punished for some unknown reason and have been banished to this shitty island for the winter and now she has awakened and is prettier than she’s ever been. I don’t have to be a pool boy or a busboy and I get a fun job working on an amusement ride on Hunt’s Pier.

Hunt’s Pier was an amusement pier located along the Wildwood, New Jersey, boardwalk from 1957 through 1985. Over its nearly 30 years in operation, Hunt’s was home to many classic dark rides, roller coasters, and other attractions.

Hunt’s Pier dates back to the early 1900s when it was known as Ocean Pier, the first major pier on the boardwalk. Home to ballroom dancing and musical acts, Ocean Pier was purchased by William Hunt in 1935 and converted to an amusement park with rides, including a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and a dark ride.[1]

On Christmas Day 1943, Ocean Pier burned down. Hunt built a new, all-concrete pier in its place. On May 30, 1957, Memorial Day, the revamped Hunt’s Pier opened. The amusement park began with only four rides, though it boasted 10 rides by the time of its grand opening on June 21, 1957.[2]

In 1985 Hunt’s Pier was sold and re-emerged in 1989 as The New Hunt’s Pier, retaining many of the rides operated by the original Hunt’s Pier and adding a steel roller coaster called Kamikaze. In 1988, Conklin Shows bought the pier and renamed it Conko’s Party Pier.[3] This latest incarnation of the pier was short-lived, and by the end of 1992, many of the rides had been disassembled and the New Hunt’s Pier had gone bankrupt. The Kamikaze was sold and currently operates under the name Blue Hawk at Six Flags Over Georgia.

The Cantonoso family, owners of Steel Pier in Atlantic City, bought the defunct pier in 1995. By 1996, the pier had been renamed Dinosaur Beach and had added dinosaur motifs to the classic Golden Nugget Mine Ride, a decision derided by fans as not being in good taste.[4] In addition to a water coaster and an amphitheatre, Dinosaur Beach included the first spinning wild mouse, which opened in 1997. The only classic rides operating at Dinosaur Beach were the Golden Nugget, Log Flume, and Rapids, with most of the Hunt’s legacy gone. In 1998 Dinosaur Beach closed, and over the next few years most of the rides disappeared.

Present day

The pier is currently owned by Morey’s Piers and is used to house maintenance equipment and the boardwalk tram cars. A grill, beach shop, and Adventure Maze are now on the front of the pier. Morey’s has plans to build a wooden roller coaster which will cross over from the Surfside Pier to the back of Hunt’s Pier.

Legacy

Hunt’s Pier featured many unique rides and attractions, including a classic wooden roller coaster called the Flyer, indoor rides such as Keystone Kops and Whacky Shack, and an outdoor boat ride called Jungleland. For many years, The Golden Nugget had the honor of being the oldest ride on the Wildwood Boardwalk still surviving in its original form and location. The Golden Nugget originally opened in July 1960 on the newly constructed oceanside section of Hunt’s Pier. The Golden Nugget was built three stories high with the top floor designed to imitate a mine car ride through the desert. The classic coaster ride was specially constructed for Hunt’s Pier by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and was engineered by John Allen. It was removed in 2009, and a ceremony commemorating the ride was held in January of that year in anticipation of its removal.[5]

In early 2009, Knoebels’ Amusement Resorts entered into agreement with Morey’s Piers to acquire the trains, tracks, and ancillary mechanical equipment from the Golden Nugget ride. The equipment was moved to Pennsylvania in early 2009 for a planned reproduction of the Golden Nugget at its Elysburg, Pennsylvania, park. Renamed Black Diamond, it officially opened in October 2011. The original stunts and gags included in the ride were not part of the sale and have been retained by Morey’s Piers for usage elsewhere.[6]

The George Boyer Museum in Wildwood currently houses artifacts from Hunt’s Pier, including Keystone Kops characters and Hunt’s Pier flags. Near Historic Cold Springs Village, Hunt’s abandoned storage and maintenance site still holds signs and parts of former rides, including boats for the Log Flume, trains for the Flyer that are currently under restoration, and letters that were part of the Hunt’s Pier Skyline Golf sign that stood opposite from the pier on top of the Ocean Theater.

 

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Author: phicklephilly

Copyright © 2016 by Phicklephilly All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. All stories and characters are based on real people and events. The names and images have been changed to protect their privacy. Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation!”

One thought on “Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1980 – Hunt’s Pier – Part 1”

  1. That was one of my favorite piers. I like themed rides and haunted rides. I never got to ride the Whacky Shack. I saw it at night in August 1982 and 1983, but didn’t ride it.

    Like

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