A weekly column by Catherine Dugan. This week: The Wildwood Boardwalk
Stretch your summer with a stroll on the boardwalk! Try your luck with games of chance, or test your powers with games of skill. Ride the giant ferris wheel with a view of the Atlantic Ocean, take a spin on the Himalayan, scream your head off on a roller coaster, and poof – your back-to-school blues are gone.
America’s first boardwalk was built in Atlantic City in 1870, to keep sand out of hotels and train cars. Wildwood’s version has evolved from a simple promenade to an entertainment destination. The resort is one of the most popular vacation spots on the East Coast. The boardwalk is a two-mile stretch of planks, lined with shops, restaurants, games, fortune tellers, and more, highlighted by Morey’s Piers, the family-owned entertainment complex offering more rides than Disneyland.
Morey’s Piers offer a wide variety: kiddie rides, spinning rides, water rides, and the new dark ride, the Ghost Ship. Introduced in 2010, the Ghost Ship – managed by Exit Zero’s own Terry O’Brien – is one of the scariest attractions we’ve encountered. Visitors walk through the remnants of the doomed cargo ship Ignis Fatuus. The crew has been devastated by some mysterious, terrifying fate. Whatever your fear – rodents, enclosed spaces, zombies, dirty kitchens – the Ghost Ship has something for you. And, unlike other scary rides, it’s not quick – it takes a good long time to get through, even if you run. Visiting in the daylight makes it a little less scary, so get in line as soon as it opens. You may want to clear your head with a ride on the merry-go-round when it’s over.
When you’re through with the rides, treat yourself to some boardwalk food. Pizza and pretzels draw you in with their tempting odors, but the variety of boardwalk food is endless. Save room for ice cream, and pick up some taffy for the ride home. Or, take home a different souvenir – the bawdy T-shirt shops offer an interesting peek into American pop culture and a hermit crab, though ugly, makes a low-maintenance pet. If you’re on a budget, park yourself on a bench for some world-class people watching.
The boardwalk also serves as Wildwood’s town center, hosting special events like ethnic festivals, car shows and the Beach Jam, a giant campout on the beach for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
You have until October 10 before Morey’s Piers closes for the season, so get moving, and watch the tram car, please.
Next week: Surf’s Up!