By MADDY VITALE
Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City is set to rebuild the arcade destroyed by a massive fire on January 30. The city’s planning council gave the official green light this week for some improvements to the new building.
The owner of the Boardwalk theme park, architects and engineers have worked throughout the year to bring back the popular attraction that serves as the entrance to Playland.
Piles and other foundation work has been completed in recent months. Steel piles and concrete planks lay the foundation for a new archway.
And back by popular demand, Playland’s iconic pirate ship that had welcomed guests entering the amusement park since 1998, but was destroyed in the fire.
“Question # 1 was about the pirate ship – whether I was selling tickets downtown or asking people on Facebook or emailing,” Brian Hartley, vice president of Playland’s Castaway Cove, explained Saturday. .
He continued, “People wanted to get the pirate ship back. It was a great thing to incorporate back. It was something that really evolved over time to become a landmark. We never thought until now that it meant so much to so many people.
The fire did not cause any injuries and the majority of the rides were not affected by the flames.
The city’s planning council on Wednesday unanimously approved Playland’s plan to add additional storage and office space to the second floor of the arcade building, among other things that needed deviations. The footprint of the project is the same.
“It was really great working with them,” Hartley said of the Planning Board. “They formed a subcommittee first, so the meeting was really a formality.”
Meanwhile, the pirate ship could resume its place atop the arcade in late summer 2022.
And there’s something else exciting that can be reserved for amusement park patrons that have made Playland’s Castaway Cove a family tradition for generations, Hartley said.
Hartley and Scott Simpson, the owner of Playland, had a new vision for the park before the fire.
“Our long-term plan, before the fire started, was to add some kind of attraction. We will continue to explore this option, ”said Hartley. “We would like some sort of merry-go-round, a monorail, a roller coaster, something that will definitely add a thrill.”
In addition to the arcade, Dairy Queen, operated by Playland, and tenants Hamburger Construction Company and Brume Juice were destroyed in the same building.
Hartley noted that the owner of Hamburger Construction Company has retired, leaving an opening for a new tenant. Playland will once again be opening a Dairy Queen there.
In the summer of 2021, visitors walked through an easement at Jilly’s, a business adjacent to Boardwalk, into Playland. Hartley is hoping that even if the arcade isn’t complete by next summer, patrons can use the same easement to enter and exit the park.
“This is something that will have to be determined later,” he added.
A timeline is not so precise when it comes to weather-dependent work and delivery of construction materials during the COVID-19 pandemic, he stressed. He said the city had been very supportive of Playland during the ordeal.
“We hope the arcade will be rebuilt by the summer,” he said. “The best case might look like the end of August, but that will depend on the plans, the weather and if we get all the games.”
Either way, Hartley said, Playland’s Castaway Cove will offer, as in 2021 and the previous 60 years, hours of family fun with an array of rides and excitement.
For more information on Playland’s Castaway Cove, visit https://oceancityfun.com/