Keansburg Amusement Park, Keansburg, New Jersey, USA
Keansburg is rarely a destination for me. It has always been a "settle for" when other options are too crowded and there is no parking. Yet...it's a park (sort of) and they have rides - albeit mostly kiddie rides. The waterpark is small, but it can get you wet if you need too cool off. There's a beach...sort of. (More on that later) and of course they have a very long and interesting fishing pier (It's about half a mile long!). Got up early on Sunday of Labor Day weekend. The goal was to gently say goodbye to summer...take one last Jersey trek...and prepare myself for the start of the school year which would begin on Tuesday. OK...so let me tell you about my day...
I would love a thread on really cool non-ride things to do near the parks that could make for great side experiences. Today, I drove past Great Adventure...and went to the New Egypt Flea Market. It's a cool strange place that is only open on Sundays and on days with full moons. There is a retro toy place there that I love to visit and the overall vibe of the place is so cool and laid back and yes...you can get some good deals on all kinds of stuff that you didn't know you would want, need or use. I also stopped by a local diner in that town that is frequented by quite a few farmers and I would swear you were in Mayberry. On the way back, I stopped by Prospertown Lake. It is a freshwater lake where you can park, fish, hang out in the shade and watch some of the rides doing their thing off in the distance. I already put away my gear for the end of the summer, but it is a nice place to chill and it's right past Six Flags. I spent about 30 minutes on a folding chair working on a Kakuro puzzle.
Time for some pinball at Asbury Park. NOPE! Asbury had a TON of stuff going on including a concert series. By the time I got there...there were no parking spots anywhere. OK...Seaside Heights. Nope! Southbound traffic was insane. Ok...it looks like it will have to be Keansburg.
Clear highways and travels until the turn off of Route 36. Wow! Slammed. Twenty minutes later I was in line for the unpaved dirt lot. Ten bucks to park. If you leave, you have to pay again. I figured that. When you drive to the amusement area you will see a giant luxury apartment complex that seems to tower over the park. They both look out of place so close to each other. It turns out as you travel past the park...more luxury buildings are being built or fixed up. I would bet that the residents are not on line to ride the offerings at the park or waterpark. Waterfront property is very pricey, rare and not conducive to the Keansburg Clientele. Nicer restaurants are away from the park and
The rides at Keansburg are old, and somewhat run down. It's sort of looks like it was once like K'nobles...but they gave up on maintenance, presentation and quality. An example of this is one airplane kiddie ride that was standing but not operating. Children wouldn't be flying any day soon. The cars were on the ground and the supporting arms were just standing there without their burden. In front was a operations platform that was disconnected from the ride. It looked like a birdhouse. There was a tornado ride that was folded into it's (what once must have been) a portable trailer. It was sticking out like the people loading it couldn't make it fit and then they stopped caring. This would never work at Six Flags...or Adventureland or your local "fun center." They just gave up.
The town also seems to have given up. There are signs that the beach us unguarded and swim at your own risk. Really??? Do you think that will deter the local youth from using the beach at night and possibly drowning. (It happens frequently in beach towns). That policy would NEVER fly in Ocean City, Wildwood or almost anywhere else I can think of.
The bathrooms had insane lines and no soap, no paper and smelled awful. Some of the food stands are privately owned and were not as busy as they should have been for Labor Day weekend. The food looked bad. The indoor carousel was down, dark and...just sad. If you are looking for work in the area, "help wanted" signs were everywhere...
I decided to go to the pier and work on some more math puzzles. The deal used to be 10 bucks to fish and a dollar just to walk on the pier. Not anymore. Now everyone pays ten bucks including the walkers. I figured that I was there already...I might as well. It was still in good condition and I saw a guy pull up a short fluke (summer flounder). You can't bring a net to catch your own bait because the pier wants to sell you their frozen stuff. The worst part was that as the folks were fishing...every three minutes jet ski folks would ride by and scare away anything that might be caught. I do not know if they do this purposely...but there is no recourse for the fisherpeople. Yelling at them doesn't hurt. WEASELS! There are two portable bathrooms on the pier, which were major upgrades from the ones at the park.
By the way...on the pier I killed two of those lantern flies you may have been hearing about. The D.E.C. is telling anyone who sees them to kill them instantly because they destroy local trees.
So Keansburg is at the crossroads. Will the wealthy apartment dwellers eventually push out the rides (they usually do)...or will the rides just peter out on their own...or will someone eventually care? The waterpark looked like it was hopping...but it just was an overall sad experience.
Riding back to Long Island I was thinking about the school year to come. The fact that this was my last trip of the summer and the fact that I never made to some of the places I wanted to go to made me a little sad. But despite how the day played out...any day I am around park-stuff is a pretty good day.
Sorry I was a little late with this report. As always thank you for reading this and Please smash any lantern flies that you see.
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That day sounds awful. Including the math puzzles.
And since you mentioned it I thought I’d jog whatever memory I had of hearing about Keansburg. (I’ve never been there). Research is sketchy- there’s an outdated website that lists rides, slides, and games. Photos are close-ups, a technique I associate with avoidance of true details. A coaster is listed, one of those dreadful, portable Looping Star rides that were popular in the 90’s. There are a few majors and spectaculars but when I see a Chance Chaos I just have to wonder. There’s a Wave Swinger and a Moby Dick. A Tornado that looks to be in better shape than what you describe. The water slides carry names like Black Slide and Magenta Slide.
And then there’s the Spookhouse. I keep mental track of dark rides and maybe this is why I seem to remember Keansburg amusements. A quick search on YouTube sent me to a few videos, one of which carries a title indicating the dark ride was destroyed in the hurricane. The thumbnail brings more recollections- the ride was located in a pace that seemed no bigger than a game stall and was protected by a garage door. Another video by dark ride expert George LaCross included a lights-on walk through tour then a ride through the tiny ride. That video is from 2001.
So I still have to wonder what’s up with Keansburg. If the area is shifting from resort town amenities to luxury condos I’m surprised the land the parks sit on hasn’t been put to “better” use.
I suspect Keansburg is a place where Hurricane Sandy did a ton of damage, and the former inhabitants either couldn't or didn't want to rebuild, and when that happened, developers saw an opportunity and swooped in. A similar pattern happened in my old neighborhood of Red Hook in Brooklyn - nearly all the low-income residents living in private housing left after Sandy, and lots of newer and fancier apartments are going up.
And, being a bit out of the way on the Jersey Shore, Keansburg probably depends on locals a lot more than some of the beach towns like Seaside Heights.* So I would assume the amusement park is hanging on the best they can, since you're right, the new condo owners probably aren't crossing the street for Fascination. My own interest in visiting Keansburg was wiped out by Sandy when it took out their Wildcat.
*Where exactly are the "heights" in Seaside Heights? Wikipedia lists its elevation at 3 feet.
I saw some of the lowest of the low at the Heights…
I noticed an odd juxtaposition at the Jersey Shore, and this was pre-Sandy. The boardwalks and tourist attractions seemed solidly middle class working America. A mile up the road leading to the next boardwalk were some of the finest homes and properties along the east coast. Something makes me doubt that those fortunes were made on the backs of t-shirt and frozen custard customers. A neighbor who was from NYC said most of the people we see up and down the Shore are New Yorkers just getting out of town. She actually said to me “God, why did you go there?” To which I responded “Because I like that sort of thing and I’m not afraid of tacky. And because I didn’t know Morey’s wasn’t open yet…”
RCMAC - - - > The quality difference between Seaside Heights and the attractions at Keansburg is astounding. Seaside has a well guarded beach, some nice places for typical boardwalk fare, some places that are a step above with live entertainment, etc. The rides are well presented and cared for. The waterpark is steps ahead of Keansburg's and the boardwalk is clean and uncluttered. They are trying to clean up their image and appeal more to families since the Jersey Shore era and it's working...slowly...but it's working.
Yeah, the math puzzle thing is just a nice way for me to relax. Sudoku High-Fives, Higato number mazes, Kakuro, KenKen...anytime you see someone on a boardwalk bench with a white clipboard, it is probably me. I also like the logic problems....Five people went to an amusement park...the guy in the red shirt liked the ferris wheel the best. The guy who arrived second was wearing the green shirt...the lady who liked the scrambler ride ate the funnel cake. (Hopefully after the scrambler). Match each person with their shirt color, favorite ride, and food consumed. I love those things...but I get it...it's not for everyone.
Hambone - - - > I grew up in Brooklyn. I loved it, but many parts have changed. You are correct, Sandy did a number on Keansburg. The town has water on two sides. They must have gotten hammered on two fronts!
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