Pulse: Golden Oldie

Philly boomers who vacationed in Wildwood during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s have one thing in common: fond memories of Hunt’s Pier and its unique “dark rides” — Jungle Land, the Whacky Shack, the Keystone Kops, the Pirate Ship Skua. Alas, all of them have been razed or sold, victims of the more thrill-seeking tastes of Gens X and Y.


Philly boomers who vacationed in Wildwood during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s have one thing in common: fond memories of Hunt’s Pier and its unique “dark rides” — Jungle Land, the Whacky Shack, the Keystone Kops, the Pirate Ship Skua. Alas, all of them have been razed or sold, victims of the more thrill-seeking tastes of Gens X and Y.

The pier itself is now more or less inert, used by the Morey family, which runs three other piers, mostly for storage. But the Golden Nugget Mine Ride, a hulking faux mountain that paid clever homage to the gold rush of the 1800s, still stands, the lone survivor of Hunt’s golden era. The Moreys would like to reopen it, but issues with mold, asbestos and age (the ride was built in 1960) are proving thorny: Executive VP Jack Morey estimates it could cost up to $5 million to restore the ride.

Each year, he receives “hundreds” of e-mails and letters from boomers pleading for a Nugget reprise. “We’re impressed by the sentiment,” he says, “but it’s a little different to equate that to guaranteed success.” Meaning, $5 mil is a lot of cash to plunk down so a bunch of middle-aged tourists can take a spin through their youth.

Which may account for the decade of handwringing the Moreys have put in since the ride closed in 1997. They’ve studied various options for moving and/or restoring it, but none may make dollars and sense. A final decision about whether to save the Nugget is likely by the end of the year. “Right now, it’s too risky a venture to say we’re going to do it,” Morey says. “But we have our fingers crossed.”

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