Jolly Roger Park is not only “the” place for fun in Ocean City, Maryland, it’s a group of parks that makes this seaside town into an amusement park attraction mecca.
Jolly Roger Park includes SpeedWorld, Splash Mountain, Jolly Roger at 30th Street, and Jolly Roger at the Pier. The group of parks has grown over the years, and is a favorite of both visitors and locals. The park is a local landmark. Park marketing and sales focuses on social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
According to Dean Langrall, director of sales and marketing at Bay Shore Development, Jolly Roger’s parent company, the amusement park offers a wide range of entertainment options. There’s a free circus offered twice a day at the 30th street location with acrobats and jugglers. Go-Kart thrills are the attraction at Speedworld, with over 400 carts available for riders and the Cyclone Cart Coaster, billed as the world’s first cart coaster where the carts are a part of the ride. It opened in 2015. Also at this location, the Xtreme Zipline sends guests 60 feet above ground along a 1,100-foot zip line with four guided stations.
At Splash Mountain, it’s all about waterslides, including the Aqualoop, a semi-transparent looping waterslide with a 360-degree enclosure. Two new slides were added this summer season.
An elaborate themed mini-golf game is part of the fun along with rides at the 30th Street amusement park location of Jolly Roger. Guests can tee off a Jungle Golf adventure or a Treasure Golf experience seeking buried treasure. Visitors who become a member of Jolly Roger’s Fun Club receive a free round of mini golf every year on their birthday for life – another incentive to play.
At the pier, there’s more rides, midway games, and the Best French Fries in the U.S. for 2018 as voted by the online publication Food and Wine, at the Ocean City classic food stand, Thrasher’s French Fries. The crisp, thin fries are available in sizes as big as a bucket.
This past year saw the return of the Jolly Roger Giant Wheel to the pier location. It was dismantled last September, updated and galvanized at Big B Manufacturing in Pennsylvania. There the 108-foot ride had each element of its machinery detached and coated with a layer of molten zinc to make it corrosion-resistant. Then it was pieced back together with stainless steel pins, and its lighting was doubled, making the wheel an even more significant part of the Ocean City skyline with 35,000 LED bulbs installed by TRAVCO Productions. Originally built in 1986, it re-opened Memorial weekend. The Giant Wheel offers a grand view of the Ocean City shoreline and Boardwalk.
Also at the pier location Jolly Roger debuted Crazy Cabs this year, two new circus acts, as well as an on-ride photo experience on the Looping Star coaster.
Crazy Cabs is a family ride, featuring the look of New York City yellow cabs in a lively spinning, turning, and weaving experience. For thrill seekers on the pier, the fast-paced Power Surge spins on a much higher level; the Looping Star roller coaster offers upside-down twists, turns, and spins. The Slingshot literally catapalts strapped-in riders into the sky.
Jolly Roger opened as the Arnold Palmer Miniature Golf Course and Driving Range on 30th Street in Ocean City in 1964, and now offers 35 acres of fun after 54 years in operation.
The park began when Charles “Buddy “ Jenkins and Arnold Palmer met. Jenkins had bayside property in Ocean City, and Palmer was developing mini-golf courses and driving ranges. Jenkins purchased a franchise, quickly adding ten rides to the mini-golf attraction including a merry-go round, kiddie roller coaster, skyliner, and a train, the latter of which still operates today.
He followed in quick order with a carousel, dry slide, and bumper cars. In 1974, Jenkins acquired the rights to the iconic Ocean City Pier, adding new rides and attractions.
Jenkins chose the theme of Jolly Roger because he felt pirate lore fit with his coastal location. His original 30th Street location was considered the far northern end of Ocean City at the time – the town’s hotels and attractions now stretch up to 100th Street, but the now-iconic amusement attractions were hardly a sure bet at the time.
Also new was the idea of water park, which began with one concrete water slide that Jenkins describes simply as being in the “forefront of a new thing.” Today what became Splash Mountain has 15 slides including a Lazy River, the Lost Lagoon attraction, and the thrilling Eye of the Hurricane. 2011 was the year that Aqua Loop was added. The attraction remains the only 360-degree looping water slide on the East Coast.
According to Langrall, some innovations came and went, while others endured. There were live acts and shows in the 80s that included an alligator pond and a high dive act, an elephant show and Earl the Chimpanzee. Today, live acts are still an attractive part of the Jolly Roger experience, such as the acrobatic circus which runs daily from July 1st through Labor Day, with two performances. Also running through the summer months is a twice-nightly Pirate Theater show with plenty of swash-buckling action, and daily summer appearances of Lollipop the Clown performing at the 30th Street location of the park.
At Splash Mountain, the Splash Mountain Mermaids swim in the Kiddie Pirate Ship Pool area, handing out bracelets to children and decorating their faces with glitter.
Parking is always free at Jolly Roger; pricing varies at the parks. Splash Mountain offers season passes for $179.99 for those 42 inches and above, $69.99 for those under 42 inches. Daily passes are $40.99 and $13 respectively; seniors receive a reduced daily admission of $17.99.
Mini-golf is $8.99 per game; the X-treme Zipline $24.99. A variety of combination packages are also available. At Jolly Roger Park and Pier, ride arm bands are $23.99 by day and $27.99 at night. The Big Ticket, at $75.99 offers one Speedworld pass for 2 hours with a Cyclone wristband, one single admission to the waterpark, and one Day Rides pass at the amusement park.