As the countdown to summer 2020 continues, and inspired by Bill's retro report, I thought I'd have some fun and do one as well: a trip report of my first time in Wildwood. I don't have much video of it (less than a minute, either battery issues or my dad accidentally taped over it) , I'll have to look to see if I have any pictures of it. I remember this vacation distinctly, many years later.
Prior to 1993, my experience to the Jersey Shore was somewhat limited. I had been on a few day trips to Pt. Pleasant, and had stayed over Seaside Heights once or twice. In the summer of 1993, I was 7 years old. I recall my parents telling me that we are going to a place that "was like Seaside, but bigger and better. More rides, more arcades." I was sold. The car ride down from Bayonne seemed to take FOREVER. My parents (who thankfully had a good taste in music, even though I didn't appreciate it then) took turns listening to their favorite mixtapes (Nine Inch Nails, New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure were some groups I remember on that ride) When my dad would throw money into the toll baskets on the Parkway, he'd take off saying "yeeeeeeee haaaaa!" . These two aspects became traditions of our drives down all the way until I graduated high school.
I remember that first time, after we got off the exit from the Parkway, seeing the giant gorilla, with go karts racing around him. I already thought: "this place is so cool!" . As we got closer, we saw the ferris wheel in the distance. Driving into Wildwood Crest, seeing all of the awesome, unique looking motels and the signs...I felt as if I was transported to some other planet, or placed in a video game. It was surreal.
We checked into the Shalimar (pre-renovation) which had a nice, quaint lobby. The owner's dog would come out and greet the guests, a nice Labrador. I was happy to see it had a game room! (I distinctly remember playing the Golden Axe arcade game) There was a pool table in the game room too.
My stomach was hurting a bit but that didn't stop me from having fun..it was off to the boardwalk! It was VERY hot, so the first thing we did was cool off for a few hours by seeing a movie (Rookie of the Year) at the Strand. Man, I miss going to movies on the boardwalk. The arcades (Supercade may have been my favorite) were filled with video games, not claw machines or redeem games as they are today. This was the golden era of video games. I remember playing Street Fighter 2 with no less than 6 people huddled around watching the intense battle! I also remember my dad and my cousin playing a horse racing game where you roll balls to make them gallup. They won my sister a Dino (from Flinstones) stuffed animal.
I remember going on the bumper cars and my stomachache ramping up. I actually stood up during the middle of the ride to let the operator know to stop the ride! My mother ran me to the nearest bathroom, and as I was entering the bathroom, a ghoul from Castle Dracula was leaving it and bumped into me! I was totally freaked out and you can say he scared the you know what out of me, because that's what happened when I ran into the stall! After that, I remember walking over to the castle and being amazed, scared, interested, and intimidated all at the same time. I'll never forget the first time I saw the castle, with the music blaring into the boardwalk as the sun was setting. It was a powerful experience. I also remember my older cousins going to some of the music clubs at the time, it seemed like so much fun. I thought "when I get older, I'll do that too" but of course by then, they were all gone.
Our first dinner was at Schumann's, which became our favorite place and a tradition to eat at every year. Their mashed potatoes were amazing. My older cousin, who was away with us, taught me how to use a toothpick after we ate. I thought it was cool because it reminded me of Razor Ramon, a wrestler at the time. Speaking of wrestling, the next day on the beach I buried some of my wrestling toys (Marty Janetty and Million Dollar Man) , telling myself "I'll find it next year"! (of course, I didn't) . My Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sandles were washed away with the tide. I remember going to the Cape May zoo and seeing a giraffe for the first time in person. And I remember seeing fireworks over Sunset Lake, after eating at Duffy's (which I also miss).
That was pretty much it in a nutshell. These are the thoughts, feelings, and memories I feel each and every time I go to Wildwood these days. I relive some of the moments of all my trips in my mind, and create new ones.