In 1965, construction was completed on Ocean Playland Amusement Park on 65th street bayside on a large peninsula-type lot that protruded out into the bay at a price tag of over $2 million. The park was only 860 feet long and 375 feet wide and sat behind a 1000-car parking lot off of Coastal Highway. The park, which officially opened for its first day of business on June 18, 1965, was developed by realtor Jim Caine, Oscar Carey, and George Chandler and was built to offer amusements to those staying in uptown Ocean City. The park became an immediate success in north Ocean City, which at the time was extremely underdeveloped and sparse.
A view of Ocean Playland during the construction phase. Tracy's Ghost Ship can be seen in the upper left of this photo.
An aerial view of Ocean Playland looking east. Photo taken in October 1965.
An aerial view of Ocean Playland taken in 1965.
An aerial view of Ocean Playland taken around 1970.
An aerial view of Ocean Playland looking east. Photo taken in late 1970's.
A view of Ocean Playland at night looking toward the miniature golf course and their wooden coaster, The Hurricane.
Unlike many of its competitors, Playland offered a plethora of unique attractions including a complete monorail, a full wooden coaster called the Hurricane, a miniature golf course, and over 25 amusement attractions of all types and for all ages. The most significant attraction in Ocean Playland, as far as dark rides were concerned, was Ghost Ship, built by Bill Tracy from Universal Design Limited. Although the park closed in 1981, this attraction, unlike the others, would live on in Ocean City for decades to come thanks to a high bid and a vision from Granville Trimper. Granville was able to purchase the rides contents, including the cars and track, for a later expansion of The Haunted House.
OCEAN PLAYLAND QUICKFACTS
Ocean Playland, as the park was originally named, was later re-branded as simply Playland.
The large pirate that stood at Ocean Playlands entrance was built by the International Fiberglass Company and is similar to the one at the entrance of Jolly Roger Amusement Park. Originally, the figure was painted to resemble a pirate, but in later years, it was changed to resemble a clown thanks to some new paint and a hat.
Ocean Playland operated as a concessionaire parkbusinessmen and women would come from all over to set up their equipment and pay a percentage of their earnings to the park as a concession.
Ocean Playland offered free admission and a pay-one-price riding system.
An advertisement from The Resorter showing a view of Ocean Playland. Tracy's Ghost Ship façade can be seen in the left of this photo.
Found on the back of a 1966 real estate booklet.
An ad from the Salisbury Times from June of 1966.
An ad from an Ocean City visitors guide from 1969.
Seems like quite a deal for an afternoon of fun, even for the summer of 1975!
Article from Salisbury Times from April 15, 1964 when a permit for the park was being sought.
The true story of how Ocean Playland came to be, including a list of the park's rides which mentions a "(Tracy) Dark Ride."
When Playland closed in 1981, O.C. purchased the land to use for city government facilities.
Check out this great article from the July 21, 1978 issue of Oceana Magazine. The article outlines the management strategies of the park and features park manager Jack Morningstar who was the boss of over 100 employees during the summer and managed the park’s major attractions, including Ghost Ship, which was later acquired by Granville Trimper for the Haunted House expansion.
A rare full-page ad from the August 4, 1978 issue of Oceana Magazine.
An ad from an Ocean City guide book from 1977. Ghost Ship can clearly be seen in the aerial image of the park.
Above is the full article about Ocean Playland in National Amusement Park Historical Association - Vol. 24, number 6.
Thanks to Ocean City historian Karl S. for his generous contribution of Playland articles and Ghost Ship photo. Thanks to the Ocean City Lifesaving Station Museum for contributing advertisements from Guide Books.