At Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, N.J., the fun doesn’t stop when summertime ends. Oktoberfest on the Boardwalk concluded the boardwalk’s amusement season. The event ran for three weekends, starting on Friday, September 21st. It took place at Wilhelm’s Bier Garten on Mariner’s Pier and began with a ceremonial keg tapping of Warsteiner beer.
This year’s edition also featured live entertainment on Morey’s newly branded Coca-Cola stage near the Ferris wheel; German beer, German food, a Root Bier Garten for kids, and festive twists on classic boardwalk amusement fare, such as a pumpkin funnel cake. Single-day Oktoberfest ride wristbands for Friday or Sunday admission were $24.95, $29.95 on Saturday for guests 48 inches and taller and $19.95 to $24.95 for those under 48 inches tall. Oktoberfest three-day ride wristbands for Friday-Sunday were $39.95 for guests 48” inches and taller; $34.95 for those under 48”.
Above all else, the Oktoberfest is a veritable feast. Wilhelm’s Bier Garten, let visitors enjoy German fare aplenty. Options included fried pierogies, large Bavarian Pretzels with cheese and mustard dipping sauces, Bavarian Bacon Skewers, and Cheddar Bratwurst and Bacon Knockwurst sandwiches on a pretzel roll. Served at Jumbo’s restaurant, the Oktoberfest Schlachteplatte was a Butcher's Platter sampling of bratwurst, knockwurst, speck ham, pork belly-schmalz with grilled rustic bread, Swiss cheese, braised red cabbage, sauerkraut with assorted accoutrements: cornichons, Oktoberfest mustard, beet-horseradish sauce and spicy-beer mustard. Other hearty choices included homemade Wiener Schnitzel with German potato salad and braised red cabbage, veal and pork schnitzel, and Jumbo’s grilled 8 oz. burger, with bratwurst, sauerkraut, beer cheese, and mustard sauce on a pretzel bun. The popular Oktoberfest Burger added garlic beer braised onions, lettuce, tomato, and beer cheese to an 8 oz. burger on a pretzel bun. Special desserts included pumpkin flan, Whoopie pie, and an apple dumpling with ice cream.
And of course, what would an Oktoberfest be without - beer on draft. Warsteiner was the highlighted beer, and included were choices such as the Warsteiner Konig Ludwig and Warsteiner Oktoberfest. Other special brews this year were the Cape May Oktoberfest, Cape May Honey Porter, Paulaner Oktoberfest, Glasstown Oktoberfest, and Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale. More conventional bottled beers and cocktails were also available. Along with individual beers, tasting flights were available. The Bier Garten was located outside Jumbo’s restaurant.
The kid’s zone Rootbier Garten offered more than just foamy root beer. According to Morey’s public relations office, there was a wide range of activities such as pumpkin and cookie decorating; and for kids with wristbands to enjoy pier rides, those 12 and under received a free souvenir root beer cup with the first fill free.
Music was also a big part of the festival, with the band Late Last Night, and German yodeler and alphorn player Helmut Fricker performing, among others rocking out at the new Coca-Cola stage.
Music and food are the focus at the event, but attendees also got to experience a singular family tradition: that was the Morey family themselves clad in lederhosen.
The Morey’s are an enthusiastic part of their events and the boardwalk community. The family-run amusement pier with its iconic red entrance sign was voted the best seaside amusement park in the world in 2015, by Amusement Today, the #1 Best Beach Boardwalk by Family Vacation Critic, Morey’s press office reports. Positioned on over 18 acres along 6 beachside blocks, Morey’s Piers consists of three amusement piers and two beachfront waterparks, and offers guests over 100 rides in all. Combining the seaside boardwalk vibe with an amusement park mecca, Morey’s attractions include the Surfside Pier, featuring the Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club at 25th Avenue; Mariner’s Landing Pier, featuring Raging Waters Water Park at Schellenger Avenue; and Adventure Pier at Spencer Avenue.
The piers history began when brothers Bill and Will Morey combined their talents. In the 1950s, Bill operated boardwalk concessions along the boardwalk, Will was a successful contractor and developer in Wildwood. But once they spied a giant fiberglass slide in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., they were convinced they could make a similar ride a success in N.J. They purchased one, named it The Wipe Out, and their amusement park business began. The Morey family added a variety of rides and restaurants over the years, with recent additions including the haunted Ghost Ship attraction, Joe’s Fish Company restaurant, an Adventure Maze, and the unique Breakfast in the Sky concept served on the Ferris wheel. In 2015, Morey’s Piers brought back a classic ride – KONG. Riders soar 26 feet in the air while vintage World War era planes dive around the gorilla, and LED lighting illuminates each car on the attraction. The following year, The Starlux Miniature Golf Course opened, offering two levels of themed holes that fit the beach, ocean, and boardwalk and include a giant sand castle and water features. And in 2017, the Great Nor’Easter coaster received a revamp, with a 95-foot drop and an ocean-theme, plus 2,170-feet of faster, smoother track.
According to Morey’s Piers public relations office, there were new attractions for 2018, as well: a new family-friendly spinning coaster, Wild Whizzer, features carts that resemble personal hovercraft. And, the beloved Pirates of the Wildwoods ride received a complete revamp with 3D fluorescent paint and 3D glasses for guests to wear for an immersive experience. The Coca-Cola branded stage was also new this year; and 2018 brought pier patrons free wi-fi.
Among the most popular rides during the 2018 season were coasters including the refurbished Great Nor’Easter, as well as the 105 foot-drop thrills of The Great White, traveling at an epic 50 mph on that plunge. The IT ride was also a hit as it swings, spins, and twists over 65 feet. Not extreme enough? Riders found thrills with the almost-sky-diving experience of the Skycoaster, and the intense flips of Skyscraper.
Family favorites include two Venetian carousels, and the commanding view from the Giant Wheel well-known to light up the night on the boardwalk. And little kids craved the Kiddie Swings as well as car, boat, and bouncy car rides.
Along with the classic sea side amusement park, Morey’s includes the Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club, with wild waterslides such as the aptly named Cliff Dive slide with its 5 story, 3-second drop. Ocean Oasis is also home to Bonsai Beach, an interactive play area with water jets, ropes, and slides for the little ones, and a lazy river. The Raging Waters waterpark features the thrills of Shotgun Falls, and kiddie play areas such as Shipwreck Shoals and Camp KidTastrophe, a three level play area with water guns, water sprays, and slides.
And, behind the scenes, Morey’s Piers worked to prove themselves even more family-friendly than their rides and attractions, flipping the switch this past fall to power 36,300-square-feet of buildings through more than 900 solar panels. As executive director Jack Morey says “We take our stewardship of this mile of pristine beach we enjoy so much very seriously, and the six-figure investment in this solar panel project was the right thing to do this year.”