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Ocean City Oddities: Playland Amusement Park on 65th Street

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.

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 ride’s contents, including the cars and track, for a later expansion of The Haunted House at Trimper’s Rides and Amusements on the boardwalk.


  • Ocean Playland operated as a concessionaire park—businessmen 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, as the park was originally named, was later re-branded as simply “Playland.”
  • The large pirate that stood at Ocean Playland’s 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 offered free admission and a pay-one-price riding system.
October 8, 1965 (George H. Cook, The Sunpaper)
The Monster Mouse roller coaster overlooks the bay.
Ocean Playland at night looking toward the park’s one and only wooden coaster, The Hurricane.
Looking east from atop the park’s Alpine Sky Ride.
A nice shot of the park’s iconic Satellite Monorail.
Rare view of the park during construction.
Park entrance
Satellite Monorail and Juggling Clown at the park’s entrance
Mid 1960s
Early 1970s
Advertisement from the late 1970s.
Excerpt – (National Amusement Park Historical Association publication – Vol. 24, number 6, 2002)
Excerpt – (National Amusement Park Historical Association publication – Vol. 24, number 6, 2002)
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 one of the park’s imagined locations 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.”
After Playland closed in 1981, O.C. purchased the land to use for city government facilities. (1982)
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 at Trimper’s Rides and Amusements on the boardwalk.
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.
Vintage bumper sticker promoting the park.
Vintage employee name tag. (Courtesy of Blake Blaze)
Vintage employee clothing. (Courtesy of Blake Blaze)
Bill Tracy’s Ghost Ship dark ride. Date unknown.
Aerial view of the property and surrounding blocks in the 1980s after the park closed. Although Ocean City Public Works has moved on the the property by this time, the original roller coaster and a few buildings remain. The land shown immediately to the north (right) of the property is known today as Sunset Island.
Feeling nostalgic? Take a road trip to see the original Clown that stood atop the Ocean Playland entrance. He lives on at Magic Forest Family Fun Park in Lake George, NY. (usagiants.com)
The Slide & Ride sign on 65th street right before it was destroyed in 2009, which previously served as the main road sign for Playland. The original Playland sign had round cutouts with letters that spelled out “Playland” where the Slide & Ride banner was.

Do you remember Bill Tracy’s Ghost Ship dark ride at Ocean Playland? Read about it! 

All historical photos are property of their respective owners and are being featured for viewing purposes only. Special thanks to OC historian Karl Schwarz and the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum for historical knowledge and content contributions. 

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  1. I actually stumbled upon this article last year. It was incredible to see the sights I haven’t seen since I was last there in the mid 70’s. I remember that clown above the Playland sign and I was in awe. Now that I recall, I remember seeing something sitting in water.. like an old ride with what appeared to be wooden structures rotting away. I thought it was off the pier so I just remember the sight of a defunct set up abandoned in water.. can’t exactly put my finger on it except feeling sad that a part of the place was dying or something. It was a context in time where my family got out & got along especially in a fun place which created lasting memories.. good time for a kid! It was awesome to know some artifacts from Playland were moved to become preserved. Thanks for your good work!!!

  2. Wow. Thanks for posting this. My family visited Ocean City in 1970, and I distinctly remembered riding a monorail, and I always thought it was at the Jolly Roger park. Now, I know where it was! I also remembered a big statue of a pirate at the entrance, but now I see it was a juggling clown. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  3. When I was a kid, the one thing I always looked forward to was going to Playland. In the mid-70’s, when I was 10-13 years old, my parents would drop me off at 5PM and come back to get me at 11PM. I’d spend the evening riding the roller coaster, the Monster Mouse and the Roto. Even by those standards, my parents were quite liberal with me and boy, did I love the freedom. We stayed either on 79th street or on 84th street. I remember, they’d give me bus money to go down and pickup doughnuts at a shop nearby Playland and bring them back for breakfast. Yes, times have changed. Parents today would leave their child unaccompanied like that.

  4. Thanks so much for collecting photos of Playland. I have fond memories of the amusement park when I was a kid in the 70’s. It’s great to see it again!

  5. Hey Brandon. I worked at Playland amusement park 1974 & 1975 along with my best friend and met my husband there. I have a ( 3 TICKETS) sign that I stole after the park closed. I loved looking at all the articles and pictures. You could put together a little museum. Mary


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