The History of Amusement and Theme Parks in NJ

It is truly amazing how much New Jersey amusement parks have changed over the years. 

Since the 19th century, amusement parks have been popular places for New Jerseyans to seek thrills and enjoy entertainment. 

Pleasure Island

One of the earliest parks in the Garden State was Pleasure Island, which first opened in 1894. The park’s attractions, which included a roller coaster and a boardwalk, were cutting-edge for their time. In the same era, another early amusement park, Camden Park, opened its doors in 1895. The park featured a large roller coaster and several other rides, as well as a dance hall.

Island Park

In the early 1900s, developers transformed a sleepy island in Burlington, NJ into a vibrant summer destination called Island Park. They built bathhouses, ice cream parlors, picnic areas, and eventually, amusement rides. This rapid development turned the island into a hub of activity, drawing visitors from far and wide. The island’s popularity as a vacation spot continued to grow throughout the following decades. Island Park was not long-lived as it closed in 1934.

Palisades Amusement Park

One of the most iconic theme parks of all time was Palisades Amusement Park, which opened in 1898 and featured some of the largest and most impressive roller coasters of its time. The park was so much more than just an amusement park – it was an incredible destination to see popular rock bands in the 1960s, it was also the epitome of fun entertainment, excitement, and memories.

Action Park

Action Park, also known as Accident Park, was a one-of-a-kind amusement park known for its unruly, uncontrolled, and extremely dangerous rides. It became infamous for its high rate of injuries among visitors, which earned it the rather unfortunate nickname. The park featured some truly unconventional attractions, including a concrete luge track and a widely known defective looped water slide. 

Action Park closed in 1996. Before its closure, it had been struggling for a number of years, with declining attendance and mounting financial problems.

The Palace

The Palace (also known as Palace Amusements) was located in Asbury Park and was open for 100 years from 1888 to 1988. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Palace’s history is its association with the famous music group Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The band played their first-ever show at the Palace in 1973, and the park has been immortalized in several of Springsteen’s songs. The Palace also had a major role in the community of Asbury Park, and its closure in 1988 was a source of controversy and debate.

The Brigantine Castle

The Brigantine Castle was a popular theme park in New Jersey in the 1970s and 80s. It had all sorts of spooky attractions, like mazes, secret passages, and ghosts. It was a really unique place, and the people who had the luxury of visiting it have really fond memories of it. It’s definitely a piece of New Jersey history! 

The Brigantine Castle closed in 1984. The park had only been open for about eight years. A storm in 1982 caused substantial damage to the park, and it struggled to recuperate or rebound in the following years. The park’s owners eventually decided to close it down, as attendance was declining and the cost of repairs was too high.

Parks that are still flourishing

There are still some amusement parks and theme parks flourishing down the shore. Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City in Ocean City, and Breakwater Beach waterpark in Seaside Heights New Jersey just to name a few.

Six Flags Great Adventure

Another really famous theme park in New Jersey is Six Flags Great Adventure. It’s been a staple of New Jersey for decades. The park is known for its huge roller coasters. Great Adventure still stands strong today. There are about 18 other amusement parks in new jersey that are still in operation at the present time. Most of them are smaller theme parks or indoor amusement parks.

Last Updated on October 12, 2023

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