Growing up on the island, one of my favorite pastimes during the busy summers was taking trips to the Wildwood Boardwalk. Once a week, my parents would surprise my four brothers and me by packing us all in the car and carting us to the beginning of the three-mile wooden pier that dotted the coastline of the Wildwoods.
As a child, I loved everything about the boardwalk, from the strips of stores located on one side of the pier, including everything from restaurants and pizza parlors, novelty shops and t-shirt stands, to tarot reading places and carnival-style game booths lining the other side. I loved making my way through the crowds of vacationers, catching whiffs of their funnel cakes and cotton candies, fresh popcorn and curly fries as I weaved in between them. I loved the oversized stuffed animals, most bigger than me, the barkers would hand me after winning at the water guns or “Fool the Guesser,” and I loved the ringing of the buzzer sounding over the chatter of people, because that assured my winning, meaning I’d get to take home a prize.
But none of this compared to the joy I felt when I stood at the entrances of Morey’s Piers, waiting anxiously to enter what seemed like paradise as an eight-year-old.
There’s something about Morey’s Piers that attracts people of all ages, whether vacationers or locals, and lures them through their welcoming gates, be it on Surfside Pier, Adventure Pier or Mariner’s Landing Pier.
When I was eight, it was the log flume. I used to stand in line for hours to ride the log flume over and over again, even though the high drop petrified me. The fact that I could ride in a little cart over water, combined with the idea of splashing innocent bystanders when I came down the drop, amused me. My brothers and I used to think we somehow had control over which way the cart rotated when we rounded the turn that kicked the water over the edge and onto the people waiting—whoever splashed the most people had the privilege and honor to pick the next ride we went on.
But it wasn’t just the log flume I loved as an eight-year-old. It was every other ride, too—everything including the traditional bumper cars and tilt-a-whirls and tea cups right down to the more modern roller coasters and fun houses and bungee jumps. It was spending the whole day relaxing in inner tubes and riding down waterslides at Morey’s Pier’s water parks, eating chicken nuggets as we floated down the Lazy River. It was leaving the water parks and packing changes of clothes so we didn’t miss an hour of amusements during the night on the pier. It was the shows, the live entertainment. It was looking out at the skyline of the whole island and trying to pinpoint my house from the top of the Ferris Wheel as it came to a peaceful standstill, while the moonlight shone down behind me over the ocean.
It was everything about Morey’s Piers that made my trips to the boardwalk memorable as a child—the amusements, the water parks, the food, the games, the shows. It was the atmosphere, and it was the gathering of friends and family, bringing them together and sharing laughter. It was all of these things combined—all of these things the Morey Family has taken such pride in dreaming and visioning and creating to make the Wildwoods a renown, seaside resort—that made my experiences magical.
And the Morey Family is still dreaming, visioning and creating, which is evident by their new ghost ship ride, just recently making its grand debut. At midnight last Friday, when the rest of the boardwalk was dark and deserted, when the stores were shut down and the lingering smells of carnival foods were no longer present, and the crowds of people were slowly dispersing, the Ignis Fatuus cast its anchors out onto the shores of Mariner’s Landing.
Now, I haven’t been to Morey’s Piers in years—at least since I’ve been away at college (I’m a senior now)—but I was one of many to witness the latest creation developed by the Moreys. I’m not going to tell you much about the ride because I want you to experience it for yourself, but I will say that it is one of their best ideas yet, and that you should check it out!
After witnessing the birth of the ghost ship and the spectacular show put on and built around it, I can say that Morey’s Piers still has a way of captivating and thrilling me, even now that I am older. Morey’s Piers continues to transition and change and grow with the times and with future generations—and with me. Morey’s Piers expands my fond memories of the piers and growing up on them, allowing me to continue to make new memories and build upon my old ones.
When I left the entrances of Morey’s Piers behind me last Friday night, I still felt that joy I experienced as a child. I saw the water park. I saw the roller coasters and bumper cars and teacups. I saw my beloved log flume. And I saw new additions, too. But I also saw something else—I saw the famous Morey’s Piers that make the Wildwoods the magical, seaside resort it is—the magical, seaside resort that I can still enjoy, and the magical, seaside resort my children can one day enjoy with me.