2/1 Update: Added photos of the Golden Nugget Farewell Ceremony.
1/26 Update: Golden Nugget is bought by Knoebels
Breaking news, the Golden Nugget Mine Ride that has stood on the old Hun’t Pier in Wildwood, NJ since 1960 will be demolished. The Morey organization who currently owns the pier (and the three large amusement piers that are collectively known as Morey’s Piers) studied the feasibility of moving and reopening the ride but according to Jack Morey, “In the end, the old ride was just not viable given New Jersey state regulations and industry safety standards.” A public ceremony in memory of the old Philadelphia Toboggan Co. manufactured darkride/coaster will be held at 12:00pm on January 31st, 2009.
Here’s the official press release from Morey’s Piers.
This whole Golden Nugget thing has been going on for many years now. I remember back in 2005-ish when the Morey’s Piers website had a poll regarding interest in restoring the Golden Nugget. The ride was last open in 1999 when Dinosaur Beach occupied the pier and the ride was given a slight ‘dino’ theme inside. I had the chance to ride both versions when I was younger so at least I can say that I’ve been on it. It was a cool little dark ride with lots of old school scenery and Bill Tracy effects; an absolute boardwalk classic and one of the only things surviving from Hunt’s Pier. I’m sure there are many boardwalk goers who are going to be none to happy about this news.
What’s your take on this news?
Very sad. The Golden Nugget is the finest attraction the Wildwood Boardwalk has ever had to offer, and I doubt anything will ever match or surpass it. Its demolition will be a great loss. It would be great if someone with deep pockets would be willing to pay for the restoration and mandated upgrades to get the Nugget running again, before its too late.
Hearing the news about the GOLDEN NUGGET which I enjoyed going on during the 60s and 70s when It was a newer ride, I don’t think I will ever go back there again, I miss all the older rides that are now GONE!
If you want to ride some surviving Bill Tracy dark rides, go to Ocean City, MD or Waldameer, Erie, PA. They both have a Pirate’s Cove walk-through, and OC MD has the Haunted House ride, and Waldameer the Whacky Shack ride. Yes, Hunt’s had a Whacky Shack, too but their’s was one level built in 1963, and Waldameer’s was built in 1970 and is 2-level. Also, the closed Joyland Wichita has a 2-level Whacky Shack, too which is in danger of being lost if someone doesn’t save the park. The Phantasmagoria 2-level ride at the now dismantled Bell’s Amusement park in Tulsa, OK was taken down and most props and scenery placed into storage for a new dark ride at a new Bell’s park that might open. The Fright Zone in Ohio (former West View, PA Haunted House) closed a couple years ago and the props and stuff are in storage at Conneaut Lake Park, PA which may not even reopen. There’s also a Bill Tracy dark ride at Lake Winnie in GA called Castle, they had a walk-through Whacky Shack that was torn down a few years ago, and the Haunted Castle at the former Miracle Strip Park in Panama City Beach, FL the cars, track and some props were bought by a guy in Birmingham, AL and used for a seasonal dark ride. The rest of the props are at a fire company in FL near Panama City. We lost 2 major seaside parks with Miracle Strip and Myrtle Pavilion. Pavilion came back, but it’s much smaller and missing the big rides like the roller coaster, Haunted Hotel, Pirate dark ride, Log Flume, and Rapids. The Haunted Hotel was TORN DOWN. Why do most parks care less about their dark rides and so quick to tear them down when the park closes or the ride becomes less popular or more costly to maintain? I’m going to miss the Golden Nugget. I rode it between 1980-1983, and again 1996-1998. At least they’re saving the props and scenery and mine carts.
Thanks for stopping by everyone!
@ Martin: One could only hope that would happen. The same could be said about many parts of Wildwood: Sportland Pier and Midway are two places that come to mind.
@ Herb: Yeah many of the older rides in Wildwood aren’t around anymore, especially dark rides. Wildwood used to have a number of them around and I don’t think any will be left after Nugget is torn down.
@ Robert: Great information there! I actually remember the Haunted Hotel at the Myrtle Beach Pavillion. I was only like 5 years old at the time and I remember being terrified of the facade with the giant skull, haha. It’s too bad I never got back down there before Pavillion closed. I’ll have to check out Ocean City one day; those dark rides at Trimper’s look great!
Morey’s still has 4 dark rides, one of them a walk-through and they’re planning a new haunted walk-through for Mariner’s golf course soon. Also, there’s the Zombie World on the boardwalk, so I don’t think dark rides are dead yet in Wildwood. It’s just that most of Bill Tracy’s (and Fred Mahana’s-who did the old Morey’s Pier Haunted House 1972-1984 and Mariner’s Hitchcock Manor 1978-1981) work is just about gone in Wildwood, except for the Nugget props which most are going in Morey’s dark rides, and the Dr. Blood’s props from Sportland Pier, the building was razed Jan 2007, most of which are in storage in the old Woolworth/Randyland building that an arcade owner named Randy owns. I heard the Whacky Shack props from Hunt’s Pier are in storage somewhere in Wildwood, the building was razed early 1996 during the transformation to Dinosaur Beach, apparently the Catanoso’s didn’t want it and couldn’t sell it, actually Eric Princz (local artist owns a company Creative Design and Engineering) bought it but couldn’t get it moved off the pier so it was scrapped on site. Also, Castle Dracula was a great attraction, the Dungeon boat ride, too and it’s a shame it burned down Jan 2002. it was originally built 1977, and the old mill boat ride 1919.
I use to looked forward to this ride every yr as a child. I grew up in Wildwood and this was my favorite ride. Hunts Peir was also my FAVORITE peir. A part of history of Wildwood Boardwalk as we know it will be no more. WOW, breaks my heart to know it will not be there.
The bubble bouncer ride my next favorite. So, So many memories of being on Hunts Peir. Wow!!