Clementon Park and Splash World

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Clementon Park & Splash World
Celementon Park Official Logo.png
Location144 Berlin Road, P.O. Box 125, Clementon, New Jersey
Coordinates39°48′11″N 74°59′05″W / 39.8031°N 74.9847°W / 39.8031; -74.9847Coordinates: 39°48′11″N 74°59′05″W / 39.8031°N 74.9847°W / 39.8031; -74.9847
StatusOperating
Opened1907
OwnerIB Parks & Entertainment
Operating seasonMemorial Day through Labor Day
Area17 acres (6.9 ha)
Attractions
Total25
Roller coasters2
Water rides8
Websitewww.clementonpark.com

Clementon Park and Splash World is a mid-sized combination theme park and water park in Clementon, Camden County, New Jersey, United States. Also known as Clementon Lake Park, it is one of the world's oldest operating amusement parks and is one of only thirteen trolley parks that are still in the United States. It was owned and operated by Clementon Lake Holdings LLC a subsidiary of Premier Parks, LLC. The park had been closed since September 2019 and was put up for auction on March 23, 2021. At the auction, the park in its entirety was purchased by Indiana Beach Holdings, LLC (now known as IB Parks & Entertainment), a company operated by real estate developer Gene Staples, for $2,370,000, with plans to reopen later in 2021[1] The park successfully reopened on June 25, 2021.

History[edit]

1907–1919[edit]

The park was founded in 1907 by New Jersey Assemblyman Theodore B. Gibbs[2] (October 17, 1838 – October 27, 1909) and his sons, Edgar B. and Willard. Theodore Gibbs was a Civil War veteran who was a corporal in Company D, Twenty-ninth New Jersey Volunteers. He held many local offices including postmaster and sheriff; he was also a member of the Atlantic City Railroad's Board of Directors.[3]

The amusement park was a popular destination in the early decades of the twentieth century with a trolley running from Camden, New Jersey, to the park entrance. In the early twentieth century, amusement parks were built at the end of trolley lines to encourage weekend ridership.[4]

1920–1939[edit]

In the 1920s, the park included a nickelodeon movie theater, a "dancing casino", a steam-driven carousel, the Jack Rabbit roller coaster, and a "razzle-dazzle" ride. The Jack Rabbit roller coaster was considered state-of-the-art when added to the park in 1919 for the cost of $80,000, equal to $1,250,365 today.[2]

On June 22, 1931, a fire almost destroyed the amusement park. According to The New York Times, "a vivid pyrotechnic display and the successive reports of exploding cartridges added to the spectacular aspect of a fire which swept through part of Clementon Park, a South Jersey pleasure resort." The fire had reached the cartridge supply of the shooting gallery, setting off explosions. Firemen from six adjoining towns fought the fire which was contained to the shooting gallery and a "pretzel ride." The damages were estimated to be $2,000, equal to $35,637 today.

Socialist Presidential Candidate Norman Thomas campaigned at Clementon Park in 1932. In a July 4 speech in front of 3,500 people, Thomas said, "It is not against foreign domination we must fight, but against a system that denies us bread, security and any assurance of peace. The men of 1776, in convention assembled at Philadelphia, found no successors in the old party conventions at Chicago in 1932."

In 1936, Philadelphia boxer Al Ettore trained at Clementon Park for the heavyweight title fight against Joe Louis to occur in Philadelphia on September 22, 1936. Thousands of fight fans visited the park to see Ettore train. On September 20, 1936, a 100-foot (30 m) section of grandstand collapsed under the weight of about 500 spectators. No one was seriously injured.[2]

1940–1969[edit]

Throughout the 1930s to 1950s, Clementon Park's ballroom hosted dance marathons that were hosted by various celebrities such as Red Skelton and Dick Clark.[2] Clementon Park survived the Depression by holding these marathons, offering a $100 prize (equal to $1,976 today) to partners who lasted the longest.

1970–1999[edit]

In 1977, the Gibbs family sold Clementon Lake Park to Abram Baker (1904–1994). Baker owned a nightclub in Miami, Florida, and the Fascination Parlour in Atlantic City, New Jersey. From 1955 to 1968, he owned Glen Echo Park, Maryland.[5]

In 1979, operation of the park was turned over to Larry Baker, Abe's son.

2000–2019[edit]

In 2007, the park was purchased by Adrenaline Family Entertainment for an undisclosed amount. Over the next three years, Adrenaline Family Entertainment made major renovations and added attractions to bring renewed life to the park. Laguna Kahuna, a large interactive water playland, was added in 2008, followed by Ring of Fire and Thunder Drop in 2010, and Torpedo Rush in 2011.

On November 21, 2011, the park was purchased by Gary Story and Kieran Burke of Premier Parks, LLC through a new subsidiary, Clementon Lake Holdings LLC.[6][7] Big Wave Bay, a 23,000 square foot wave pool, was added for the 2012 season.[8]

For the 2019 season, the park added four new rides; a swinging ship, Tilt-A-Whirl, Scrambler, and a kiddy coaster, Dragon Coaster.[9] The latter ride had been relocated from Bowcraft Amusement Park in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, which had closed permanently the season beforehand.[10]

Attractions[edit]

Roller coasters[edit]

Name Opened Manufacturer Description
Hell Cat
2004
S&S Power A wooden roller coaster with an out-and-back layout.
Dragon Coaster
2019
Wisdom Rides A children's roller coaster with a train designed like a dragon.

Thrill rides[edit]

Name Manufacturer Description
Thunder Drop ARM Rides A 85 foot tall drop tower ride.
Sea Dragon Zamperla A pirate ship ride
Ring of Fire Larson International A Fire Ball ride

Family rides[edit]

Name Manufacturer Description
Antique Carousel Looff/Dentzel/Stein & Goldstein An antique carousel with a Wurlitzer style 153 band organ
C.P. Huntington Railway C. P. Huntington A train ride that goes around the park'
Giant Ferris Wheel Chance Rides A ferris wheel ride.
Scrambler Eli Bridge Company A scrambler ride.
Samba Tower Zamperla A balloon tower ride.
Tilt-A-Whirl Larson International A classic tilt-a-whirl ride.
Vintage Carousel Unknown An antique carousel ride.

Children's rides[edit]

Name Ride type
Safari Train Children's train ride
Formula 3000 Convoy ride
Umbrella & Space Age Children's ride.
Mini Pirate Ship Children's pirate ship ride.
Flying Elephants Children's elephant ride.

Water rides[edit]

Name Description
Viper A dueling raft slide.
Vertical Limit A multi-lane mat racer slide.
Torpedo Rush A trap-door slide that stands 60’ tall and offers two identically-designed slides.
Big Wave Bay A wave pool
Laguna Kahuna A polynesian-themed water playground that includes 8 slides, 10 different play platforms and more than 125 sprays, jets, bubbles, streams, squirts, wheels and waterfalls. And high atop the 50-foot tall structure sits a big Kahuna statue with a giant water bucket that dumps more than 422 gallons of water.
Lazy River A lazy river ride
Sky River Rapids A waterslide where riders navigate three sets of slides and three splash pools.
Shipwreck Bay A water playground modeled after a pirate ship. Features 6 waterslides and multiple fountains.

Closure and sale[edit]

On September 8, 2019, the park abruptly closed without warning, despite tickets being sold for future events, and other planned events later in the season had been canceled.[11][12]

Following the closure, TD Bank filed a lawsuit against the park owners for failing to make payments on a $4.5 million loan. On January 25, 2021, a court order granted Howard Samuels and Rally Capital Advisors, receivership of the park.[13][14]

On February 19, 2021, Capital Recovery Group LLC, acting on behalf of its client, Howard Samuels, issued a press release announcing the sale of the park at a public auction to be held on March 23, 2021.[13] During this time, it was also reported that a local investors group, Fresh Development LLC, was in the process of raising the $7 million needed to buy and rejuvenate the park.[15]

On March 23, 2021, the park auction commenced, and the park in its entirety was sold to an undisclosed buyer for $2,370,000.[16] The buyer was quickly revealed to be real estate developer Gene Staples, who had bought and reopened the closed Indiana Beach amusement park in Monticello, Indiana, the year before.[17]

2021[edit]

Following a two-year hiatus, Clementon Park and Splash World reopened on June 25, 2021. All eight of the waterpark attractions were open, but only a limited number of the thrill and family rides were in operation. Discounted admission tickets were offered through end of June.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fitzpatrick, Frank (March 25, 2021). "Indiana park operator buys Clementon Park for $2.3 million". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Images of America, Clementon". Arcadia Publishing. 2007
  3. ^ "Obituary: Assemblyman Theodore B. Gibbs". New York Times. October 28, 1909.
  4. ^ Clementon: The Residue of Design. Courier Post. October 2006.
  5. ^ "Obituary: Abram Baker Amusement Park Owner". page 4B, Miami Herald. July 3, 1994.
  6. ^ "Story and Burke buy Clementon Lake". Park World Magazine. December 23, 2011. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  7. ^ "State Information Services property data". Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  8. ^ Roncace, Kelly (June 8, 2012). "Clementon Park and Splash World opens for the 105th season with Big Wave Bay wave pool". www.nj.com. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  9. ^ Berkery, Sheri (March 7, 2019). "Clementon Park adds four retro-themed rides for 2019 season". Courier-Post. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  10. ^ Marden, Duane. "Dragon Coaster  (Clementon Park)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  11. ^ Evans, Joyce (September 25, 2019). "Clementon park closed despite selling tickets for 'Appreciation Day,' family says". WTXF-TV. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  12. ^ Mark (September 22, 2019). "Clementon Park Closed for Good? Clementon Fall Festival Cancelled and More". 42freeway.com. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Clementon, New Jersey Amusement Park For Sale at Auction". New York CIty, New York: Cision PR Newswire. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  14. ^ Caffrey, Michelle (February 17, 2021). "South Jersey's Clementon Park goes to auction after lawsuit alleges default on $4.5M loan". Charlotte, North Carolina: American City Business Journals. Retrieved February 26, 2021. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Fitzpatrick, Frank (March 12, 2021). "South Jersey investor group plans to bid at auction with the hope of restoring Clementon Park". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
  16. ^ News12 Staff (March 23, 2021). "Mystery bidder saves iconic New Jersey amusement park with bid of $2.3 million". bronx.news12.com. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  17. ^ Fitzpatrick, Frank (March 25, 2021). "Indiana park operator buys Clementon Park for $2.3 million". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  18. ^ Ralph, Pat (June 24, 2021). "Clementon Park & Splash World finally cleared to reopen after nearly two-year hiatus". PhillyVoice.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Retrieved June 29, 2021.

External links[edit]