By MADDY VITALE
A Jan. 30 fire may have torn through Playland’s Castaway Cove, destroying the arcade at the popular amusement park on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
But on March 27, Playland’s is reopening to offer visitors enjoyment once again with rides and attractions, along with an array of discounts. For a complete listing of hours available visit https://oceancityfun.com/events/month/
“March 27 is as quickly as we could possibly open,” Brian Hartley, vice president of Playland’s Castaway Cove, said in an interview on Wednesday. “We are excited to get back open and back to a little bit of normalcy.”
The fire was ruled accidental and there were no injuries. In addition to the arcade, Dairy Queen, operated by Playland’s Castaway Cove, and tenants Hamburger Construction Company and Brume Juice were destroyed in the same building.
But the majority of rides weren’t touched by the flames.
“There may be a few rides that won’t be opened yet. But for the most part, normally we have 20 rides ready by March. We are shooting for 18 to 20 rides,” Hartley noted.
Demolition work to remove the charred remains of the arcade and its iconic pirate ship as well as offices and the other businesses has yet to begin. When it does, Hartley said, the hope is that it would take just a couple of weeks to remove raze and remove the rubble.
Hartley said Playland’s owner, Scott Simpson, and he, hope that matter to demolish the site goes before the Zoning Board this month.
“We are still waiting for the demolition permit and the site hasn’t been released yet,” he said, adding that the insurance company must release it. “It will be a monumental task. We are trying to get on the agenda of the March 13 Zoning Board meeting. That would be a big date for us.”
He noted that Mayor Jay Gillian and other city officials have been helpful.
“The city has been great. They really helped us out a lot,” Hartley added. “Everyone has been really responsive to us.”
Logistically, he explained how visitors to the park will be able to enter and exit without the use of the arcade entrance.
The visitors will walk through an easement at Jilly’s, an adjacent Boardwalk business. An area will be fenced off for demolition.
“For this summer, the plan is to just get a deck down where the arcade for people to come through to the park. It would probably be an open air one,” he said. “In the fall we would start putting up the walls and get the rest of the building built. We want to work with the city. We don’t want a ton of construction going on at the Boardwalk during the summer.”
For now, Hartley said, he, Simpson and the rest of the staff are anxious to welcome visitors to the amusement park.
And although the fire destroyed the arcade, there will still be a lot for people to enjoy who have made coming to the park a family tradition.
“The last two weekends the phone has been nonstop,” Hartley noted of people calling to ask when the park would open for the 2021 season.