Amusement Parks at the Beach: Where did they all Go?

Many Hampton Beach visitors traveled down the Cascade Water Slides for 35 years.
Many Hampton Beach visitors traveled down the Cascade Water Slides for 35 years.

The Disappearance of Amusement Parks from New England Beaches

By Kaelie Piscitello

As someone who grew up in New England, I associated the beach with many activities besides swimming in the ocean. I often visited Hampton Beach in New Hampshire with my family and remember spending hours at the Cascade Waterslides.

But it closed back in 2021, and now a parking lot stands in its place.

Many Hampton visitors, including myself, were disappointed by the loss of the thirty-five-year-old water giant. I could not help but think about the other amusement parks at other New England beaches that have disappeared over the years.

While New England still has its fair share of amusement parks, those near the coast are slowly disappearing.

Why did the Amusement Parks Close?

Economic Stress

Paragon Park in Nantasket, Massachusetts enticed people of all ages, but closed due to financial struggles.
Paragon Park in Nantasket, Massachusetts enticed people of all ages but closed due to financial struggles.

Most amusement parks open for one season, and many at the beach need to make more money to cover the expenses of keeping up with the structures; however, not all amusement parks can afford to do this.

The Cascade Waterslides in New Hampshire are one example of a business unable to keep up.

Another beloved amusement park that closed because of finances was Paragon Park in Hull, Massachusetts.

Once located next to Nantasket Beach, the park’s land was sold to condominium developers in 1984 because the land size and ocean view increased profits as a housing space.

Misquamicut Beach’s Water Wizz located in Westerly, Rhode Island, closed on Labor Day in 2019 after its thirty-three-year run.

The park’s aging infrastructure and the increasing costs of operating a small, seasonal business led to the waterpark’s downfall.

Natural Disasters

As mentioned, Water Wizz in Westerly closed because of its aging infrastructure and inability to keep up with the rising seasonal business costs. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 struck the first nail in the coffin.

Frequent visitors of the East Coast, hurricanes have devastated several amusement parks over the years. Unsplash Photos.
Frequent visitors of the East Coast, hurricanes have devastated several amusement parks over the years.

Although the storm struck seven years before the park closed, the damages challenged the business’s budget, causing the team to spend $60,000 to cover the casualties not covered by insurance. At the end of the day, the upkeep was too much.

Like Water Wizz, Funtown Pier (Seaside Park) in New Jersey initially closed due to the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and was later demolished by a boardwalk fire in 2013.

What Replaces Amusement Parks?

As mentioned, a parking lot now sits where the Cascade Waterslides of Hampton Beach once stood. Though initially turned into condominiums, a public restroom, a parking lot, and a mini-golf attraction now replace Paragon Park.

If they wish, people visiting Nantasket can still ride the Paragon carousel, the only remaining attraction of Paragon Park today.

In 2023, rumors circulated that the Seaside Park’s Planning Board approved the reconstruction of the Funtown Pier.

The latest news about this topic was reported in 2022, and it is still unknown if and when construction will begin.

Westerly’s Water Wizz, on the other hand, remains an abandoned water park waiting to convert into a new business.

Do People Still Value Beachfront Theme Parks, or Is Their Disappearance Inevitable?

Though Nantasket visitors mourn Paragon Park, they still enjoy the beach and remaining Paragon Carousel.
Though Paragon Park is gone, its Paragon Carousel remains.

Many people felt sad at first because their beloved theme parks closed. When Misquamicut Beach’s Water Wizz closed, some reminisced as it played a large part in their childhoods.

When the Cascade Water Slides in New Hampshire turned off their water jets, people took to Facebook, regretting that “everything good goes away.” Some waterslide fans mourned– it was too bad the slides were going away.

Paragon Park has a Facebook group filled with almost 2400 members dedicated to reminiscing their memories at the attractions, and some people still post about the good old days they spent there.

On the other hand, because so many of these places were losing money, it’s difficult to tell if people were genuinely sad about their closure because they went often or had not gone in years and were merely reminiscing on memories.

Whether people truly miss the beach, or amusement parks or just like to think back on positive memories, it’s up to them to decide if the attractions are worth keeping.

The Beachside Amusement Parks, Still Around?

Though Water Wizz in Rhode Island has closed, its memories live on. Donna Nenninger Photos.
Water Wizz in Rhode Island, its memories live on. Donna Nenninger Photos.

Palace Playland

Located in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Palace Playland is New England’s only remaining ocean-front theme park. The amusement park includes Maine’s largest arcade, 28 rides, and food for visitors.

Atlantic Beach Park

Although Misquamicut Beach’s water park has seen its final day, visitors of Westerly, RI, can still make a stop at Atlantic Beach Park, a small amusement park with a carousel and arcade for families to enjoy. The carousel was created in 1915 and has enchanted visitors with its lions and horses for decades.

The Atlantic Beach Park does not have other kinds of rides associated with theme parks, such as roller coasters and log flumes, it has more entertainment along the coast than most beaches in New England today.

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