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.
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.
Brandon is a longtime enthusiast, chronicler, and author of Ocean City’s amusement and boardwalk history and is the creator of Trimper’s Haunted House Online (www.ochh.net), co-author of Trimper’s Rides (Images of America), and co-creator of The Bill Tracy Project (www.billtracyproject.com).