Jolly Roger, now an Ocean City landmark with locations at the Pier and 30th Street, offers water slides, Ferris wheels, rollercoasters, dozens of games, go-karts, miniature golf and more. Each year since opening in 1964, the park has expanded to keep up with the thousands of visitors it attracts.
Drawing guests from metropolitan Washington and Baltimore, each less than a three hour drive away, Jolly Roger at 30th Street include the amusement park, Splash Mountain waterpark and Speedworld go-kart tracks. Adding to what is already the largest go-kart park on the US east coast, this year it added the new 640ft long Miami Drift Track, bringing the total to 10 different tracks with more than 400 cars. Reminiscent of the Fast and Furious movie franchise, the latest track has South Beach Miami flare with pink flamingos, neon palm trees and LED lights beneath each of 30 new cars that illuminate the track after dusk.
Last year, Speedworld debuted the Cyclone, “the world’s first cart coaster.” The 1500ft-long wooden course is reminiscent of a rollercoaster in structure, but drivers control their own speed. The four-level, 50th course was built with 22,320 square feet of lumber and 78 pilings.
Also new at the park is an historic Chance carousel with 30 Bradley & Kay horses that was purchased from a shopping mall in Minnesota. In addition to the many rides, waterpark attractions and go-kart tracks, Jolly Roger also has two mini golf courses, which are among the finest of 16 mini golf sites in this mini golf crazed town.
At the sister park, Jolly Roger at the Pier, three new rides have appeared recently. Sky Race by Zamperla is an immediate family favourite. Jumping Jack from Moser is a family drop tower, while Fabbri’s 115ft Free Fall offers big time thrills.
“We pride ourselves on adding new attractions every year,” says general manager Stephen Pastusak. “We’re trying to add rides on the pier that are more family friendly, providing something for everyone to do.”
It all started in Ocean City 52 years ago when Charles “Buddy” Jenkins met golfer Arnold Palmer’s manager, Mark McCormick. Jenkins owned a large parcel of bayside property, Palmer, the reigning “King of golf” at the time, was developing driving ranges and miniature golf courses. Jenkins purches a franchise and in July 1964 opened the Arnold Palmer Putting Course and Driving Range. The following year, he added 10 amusement rides and over the next few years Jolly Roger Park established itself as a major tourist attraction in the seaside resort.
In 1974, Jenkins purchased The Ocean City Pier Company and after a multi-million dollar renovation added new rides and attractions. This would later become known as Jolly Roger at the Pier.
More amusement rides followed, along with live shows including the Flying Wallendas, Royal Hanneford Circus and Parker Playhouse. But most importantly in the early 1970s, at the 30th St location, Jolly Roger added a go-kart track and a concrete water slide. These were the beginnings of Speedworld and Splash Mountain.
As Jolly Roger Parks marks its 52th year in business, its family-owned and operated operation has become a tradition for generations of tourists to Ocean City.