Families Flock to Amusements, Arcades

first_imgPlayland’s Castaway Cove outside rides were virtually untouched by the blaze. This photo is from July 2020. By MADDY VITALEThe Ocean City Boardwalk is just not the same without the whoosh of a ride, the screams from a thrill on a roller-coaster or the giggles from kids testing out toy race cars.On Thursday, with Gov. Phil Murphy’s go-ahead to reopen amusement parks, water parks, and arcades taking effect, families were once again able to enjoy one of their favorite traditions just in time for Fourth of July weekend.“The amusements, the water parks and the arcades are an integral part of the Ocean City Boardwalk experience,” said Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce.Gillian added, “There are many Boardwalk businesses that are staples. The amusement industry is one of them. It is part of the family vacation experience. People build memories on them, which leads to generation after generation of families returning to Ocean City.”Families rushed to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier and Playland’s Castaway Cove when the doors opened Thursday afternoon to spend an evening enjoying the amusements and the feeling, after three months of the coronavirus shutdown, of some normalcy.Playland’s Castaway Cove would not be the same without its iconic rapid-speed roller-coaster named Gale Force.Stacie Frank and her husband, Jay Ablian, of Chicago, have spent summers in Ocean City for years.In fact, Frank’s parents have a home here and she has been vacationing at the resort all of her life. ‘“I have been coming here since I was a child,” Frank said. “My family used to come all of the time and we would always go to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier.”The couple’s daughters, Alexandra, 6, and Grace, 5, couldn’t wait to head to the amusement park, hop on a roller-coaster, get in an “airplane” and just about any other kiddie ride.“I like the ones that go up in the air and turn,” Alexandra said.Grace agreed.Jay Ablian, and his wife, Stacie Frank, of Chicago, with daughters, Grace, 5, and Alexandra, 6, spend an evening at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier.Mayor Jay Gillian, who owns Wonderland Pier, looked around at the children and their families having a good time and said, “It feels great. We are so lucky that we got to open. We are making everyone wear masks and try to make everyone happy. We are trying to give people a great place to escape.”As part of the governor’s safety guidelines, employees at the amusement parks and arcades are to sanitize the rides and hard surfaces after use. Masks are also given out to anyone who needs them at the amusements and at Jilly’s Arcade. Hand sanitizing stations are also at the locations.“The Chamber, city and business community have worked together to ensure our guests’ safety and adhere to the governor’s guidelines,” Michele Gillian emphasized. “Safety has always been the number one priority for us in the amusement industry.” Jilly’s Arcade can once again provide fun for the family.Jilly’s Arcade on the Boardwalk was bustling with patrons, who played video games, tossed basketballs in hoops for prizes and spent the day enjoying other games.Barbara Spear, of Yardley, Pa., her husband, sister, and children, William, 3, Lois, 11, and Benjamin, 9, savored the Ocean City amusements.The kids could not wait for the amusement parks to open, she said.“With all of the home schooling, the kids just needed to get out of the house. We have been here since it opened,” Spear said. “There is sanitizer if you need it, masks. It is just nice to get out with the kids.”Playland’s Castaway Cove staff is ready to offer patrons enjoyment, while still adhering to safety guidelines.A balmy start to the holiday weekend didn’t deter Boardwalk strollers from taking in the sights and the amusements.Some children play a squirt-gun game at Playland’s Castaway Cove.The carousel at Wonderland Pier is always a favorite.People watch as friends and family go for a spin.The toy car racetrack at Wonderland Pier provides some thrills.last_img read more