By Sandy Roberts
Photos by David Howarth
King Kong was born in the early 1930s and became a sympathetic figure after being shot and killed by fighter planes as he clung to the top of the Empire State Building clutching Fay Wray in his hairy mitt.
Kong has been resurrected several times in less than great movies, but still his legend lives on. He has returned once again, this time to thrill young and old alike in Wildwood, New Jersey.
The truth of the matter is that he lived in North Wildwood at Morey’s Piers from the early 1970s on until 1975 when he was dismantled. But his legend lived on atop the Bonanza Shooting Gallery. He was slated to be returned to the New York workshop that birthed him, but Kong had the last laugh. As he was being moved, he simply disintegrated.
“We were looking for a centerpiece for our pier and we wanted something that our guests could walk around,” commented brothers Will and Jack Morey, second generation owners.
And so King Kong returned. His 60-foot ride will be the centerpiece of the popular pier and it is a circular design offering exactly what Morey wanted, an opportunity for visitors to walk around and see the attraction of a 360˚ angle, taking in all the fun and screams of passengers.
“With all the advanced technology we have today, the ride is actually as simple as it can get,” Morey said. “The ride revolves and the cars swing out over the pier giving everyone a thrill.”
Smoke pours from Kong’s nostrils and he wears an “I Heart W” tee-shirt as a gimme to The Wildwoods. Instead of beautiful Fay Wray in his fist, he has a grip on what looks awfully like a Wildwood tram.
The Empire State Building is miles away and has no connection to The Wildwoods, so instead of climbing what at one time was the world’s tallest building, Kong has a grip on a shore icon, a lighthouse. The cars of the ride are airplanes that swirl around Kong and can each hold two people.
Kong’s ferocious red eyes are now a soft shade of blue. How terrifying is that and why blue?
“They match my wife’s eyes,” Jack Morey said with a chuckle.
Adding a modern fit to the ride, each plane will have a fairly expensive LED set-up that will brighten the night and make it not an easy thing to miss. The lighthouse will have a beam of light rotating and letting everyone know where the ride is.
Beneath the ride itself, eleven feet off the ground, is a 3,000-foot retail complex with an area for relaxation as well. The complex, Kong & Co., will be a storehouse of Kong memorabilia: tee shirts, stuffies and much more. There will be phone charging stations, chairs in which visitors can relax, eat munchies and chocolate covered bananas… kudos to the King.
Lest you think this is all the Morey’s have to offer, think again. There is Morey’s Mariner’s Pier that also offers the high-flying circular rides. The Wave Swinger is taller than the original and swings some 50 feet over the beach. It has 72 panels of images from historic Wildwood.
The Kiddie Swing has also been given an upgrade and features pictures taken by visitors to the piers, chosen from a photo contest the Morey’s held last year. Of some 500 entries on sides of rides are shots of smiling children.
Mariner’s Pier is a youngster’s paradise: bumper cars, Tea Cups swirling around, a carousel and giant wheel. If you’re looking for a different setting for a meal, try eating breakfast on the giant wheel where you can enjoy a gourmet, white linen and china breakfast while taking in the spectacular views.
With all that enjoyment the tank can run dry and food stands are ready to fill that need. There is space for a sit-down family meal at Jumbo’s Boardwalk Grille & Eatery serving wraps, seafood sandwiches and Chef Wally J’s Cuban spiced fries.
Into Mexican food? The Taco Joint offers a variety of the South of the Border crunchy delicacy. Stubborn Brothers (the Moreys?) Beach Bar & Grille offers adult libations and a menu designed for beach bums. There are fresh veggies combined with local ingredients.
The signature dish is the Chicken-N-Waffling Sandwich, fried green tomatoes with chili aioli and Crabby Cake Sandwich. Try any of the bar’s 10 specialty cocktails with tropical ingredients and fresh fruit.
Those looking for some excitement and action should check out the Raging Waters Water Park behind Mariner’s Landing. The waters off the Jersey shore are littered with shipwrecks, some famous and others anonymous. The water park exudes the feeling that it has just been washed up on the beach after a mighty storm. But it is ready and waiting for families to take advantage of the kiddie area at Shipwreck Shoals and Camp KidTastrophie. There are also speed slides, Shotgun Falls and an activity pool that’ll challenge the entire family.
Raging Waters has two unique areas especially designed for the little set. There are water canons and at Go Wild you go drop over Shotgun Falls. At the Sky Pond Journey you’ll drift through the unique Wildwood skyline and discover many attractions.
The Cliff Dive slide drops five stories in an amazing three seconds, enough to take your breath away. The six-lane WipeOut challenges families to race each other to the finish line and Surfs Up at Bonsai Beach has rope climbs and interactive activities.
Tired? Lie back and relax as the Lazy River floats you downstream to the strains of live music overhead. Thirsty? Check out the swim-up bar for a cooling and refreshing cocktail
There are also cargo nets to climb, water guns and sprays, slides and more in the interactive area.
Mariner’s Arcade is one of the largest arcades in Wildwood with a host of games to test your skill. Or go back on the boardwalk and chew on pretzels, fried Oreos and the ever popular variety of ice cream flavors available.
Kong may be king, but Morey’s Piers offers families and groups a royal day out.
For information check out www.moreyspiers.com •