Family Island Fun park

As a kid who lived in north jersey, I went to Jones beach or Sandy Hook more then I went to Wildwood or Seaside. I enjoyed the simple pleasure of the beach, and really didn’t begin to enjoy the boardwalk and games experience till I met my wife. All of that said, even I knew who you meant if you asked about “the big gorilla in Wildwood.” He was a giant gorilla who had a slide and he sat in front of Family Island Fun Park. They had mini-golf, go karts, batting cages, and lots of other popular shore entertainment. There’s a picture of him on the Roadside America page about Mighty Joe the gorilla.

When you got off the GSP onto Route 47, once you saw the gorilla, you only had to cross the bridge and from there it was 2 minute ride to the boardwalk. In 2002 the facility closed down. 16 people wanted the gorilla, 15 from Wildwood. The owner told me that some people tried to steal the gorilla, which is rather amusing. I mean, how can you think you’re going to walk off with a 25-30 foot tall gorilla without someone noticing? As it happens, it cost the man who bought Mighty Joe about 10-15K to transport him from the mini-golf facility to his gas station in Tabernacle.

He sits there now, a large sign covering the hole in his chest where the slide came out. Larry Valenzano, was reminded of his son who had died 5 years prior of a brain tumor. He now stands as a permanent memorial to his son, watching over the patrons at the mini mart gas station where the owner brought him.

As for the facility, time has not been kind to it. Most of the fake grass is gone, the reeds and plants have taken over, and the paintball players have made a mess of things…. typical for an abandoned building in jersey…

All the rest of the photos are here

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