Wild, wild, Wildwood days

July 14, 2004

< young me at WildwoodDid you ever smell an aroma that took you back years? The other day Max and I went for a stroll around the neighborhood. About 10 minutes into the walk, as Max stared down a squirrel, I encountered the scent of old treated wood. It may have been from the nearby telephone pole baking in the sun.

But it zapped me back to my early childhood. Every summer, MomMom would rent an apartment in Wildwood, NJ for my aunt, her daughters, MomMom, my mom, and me. This was before the boys arrived in the family. We’d stay there a week and every night we’d walk the boardwalk. That was back in the mid 70’s when you could still win cigarettes and liquor on the gambling wheels.

The rides, though definitely not high-tech by today’s standards, were the best. I fondly recall the little pods of kiddie rides that my cousin and I would ride. They were so simple. There was one with little kiddie cars that went around in a circle. The ride was shielded by a bold, primary colored canopy with lights beneath it. The steering wheels were ornamental and just spun around wildly on a bolt, but the horns were real. Actually, they weren’t horns, but a button that triggered a harsh, staccato electric buzz. I’d lean on that button until my finger hurt.

Occasionally on those kiddie car rides, there would be kiddie motorcycles. Something about them were taboo to the little kids. Maybe they did wheelies or some such thing. But you knew you had really “grown up” when you were allowed to ride them. I don’t think they had the horns.

A trashy cousin of the kiddie car ride was the kiddie boat ride. Same round setup. Same bold, beautiful canopy. But this time there were boats that went around in a circle. And ‘floated’ atop the most miserable green moldy water ever. As if the ride was filled up with water Memorial Day weekend and not emptied until after Labor day. You were taught from infancy to fear that water. Don’t touch it! The ornamental steel steering wheels were shaped like old-fashioned boat steering wheels.

It’s been so long since I’ve been in a kiddie ride section of a theme park — do these kind of rides still exist?

Even if they don’t…as long as I can sniff a telephone pole, I’ll remember them. 😉

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  • Robert October 28, 2005 at 1:15 am

    Hi! I was born 1974 and I went to Wildwood between 1980-1983. I remember Hunt’s Pier, rode most of the rides, it was sold after 1985 and the new owners tore down the wooden coaster Flyer, pirate ship, Jungleland, train, car ride in 1989. I miss the Whacky Shack. It was a dino themed park between 96-98 then it closed and it’s now a go-kart pier. The Golden Nugget Mine Ride is standing but not operating. Morey’s Pier wants to reopen it. Also, the scary Castle Dracula and Dungeon Boat ride lcated at Nickels Midway Pier opened in 1977 and burned down 2002, what a shame. I was in it several years ago many times and it was one of the best haunted attractions. has pictures of the castle, and has pictures of Hunt’s Pier and other defunct rides and piers. Also and I’m from Allentown near Dorney Park. Dorney Park changed alot over the years, they changed owners and rides. Oh, you look very cute, Kimberly!