Ocean City Amusement Park Plans New Roller-Coaster

Work on the arcade building at Playland's Castaway Cove is at a standstill while the amusement park awaits Zoning Board approvals.


Playland’s Castaway Cove — an amusement park on the Ocean City Boardwalk — once featured an iconic pirate ship, with a pirate holding a parrot.

But the eye-catching attraction that served as the main entryway into the park was destroyed on Jan. 30, 2021, in a raging, early morning fire. There were no injuries reported.

Well, not only is the beloved pirate ship going to sit atop the arcade building once again in a newer form, thanks to advanced technology, but there are also plans for a roller-coaster, also on the roof of the arcade, to add thrills and chills.

“We want to put back the iconic pirate ship and parrot and then on top of the main roof structure, we want to add a family-friendly roller-coaster,” Brian Hartley, vice president of Playland’s Castaway Cove, said in an interview Sunday.

While the roller-coaster is an exciting new feature to the front entryway plans, Hartley spoke of how they decided to rebuild the pirate ship.

“The No. 1 question from the public was about the pirate ship after the fire. We never knew before the fire what people thought of the pirate ship or the level of how they felt about it,” Hartley said. “It means a lot to a lot of kids and families who came to know Ocean City and Playland’s Castaway Cove.”

He said the ship will be better than before.

“We are looking to make it much nicer and more ornate,” Hartley noted.

Before any roller-coaster is built, there would need to be approval from the Ocean City Zoning Board, specifically for a height variance because it would be taller than what is currently allowed.

The rendering for Playland’s new arcade includes the famous pirate ship. (Courtesy of Playland’s Castaway Cove)

Hartley and Playland’s Castaway Cove owner, Scott Simpson, will go before the Zoning Board on Wednesday for the height variance, among other things. Hartley explained that it is a “gray area.”

The park management wants a third floor for a control room to handle the operations of the ride.

“Essentially, the things we are going for are on the front of the building. There will be a couple of inches more than zoned. Obviously, we want to put a roller-coaster on the top of the building,” Hartley said.

He continued, “The issue we have is with a ride up on top of the building, we would need a control room. It is a gray area, so there needs to be a determination by the Zoning Board.”

According to the Zoning Board packet, Playland’s Castaway Cove is proposing to construct a third story that would be 46 feet above the Boardwalk for a vestibule, stairs, an elevator and a roof deck.

When it comes to rides, Hartley said, there is a gray area because no height limitations apply to amusement rides.

Hartley said for the last eight weeks, the project to complete the arcade building and later add the pirate ship and third floor have been stalled.

It will be up to the Zoning Board on how Playland’s Castaway Cove will proceed.

“At this point, we stopped construction until we get this resolved. If we can’t get the height determined, then we won’t have a roller-coaster,” Hartley said.

It is likely that visitors to the popular amusement park will be utilizing the walkway through an easement at Jilly’s, an adjacent Boardwalk business, to enter the park this year.

“If we are optimistic, maybe the arcade could be completed for this summer,” Hartley said. “But at this point, it would be a longshot.”

For more information about Playland’s Castaway Cove, visit https://oceancityfun.com/

The 2021 fire destroys the Boardwalk entrance to Playland’s Castaway Cove and a building containing the amusement park’s arcade.