OLD ORCHARD BEACH – While Old Orchard Beach does not have a boardwalk like those made famous in Atlantic City or further south, its beachfront amusement park has nevertheless received recognition as one of “America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks.”
In a recent article by Robert Firpo-Cappiello at Fox News, Palace Playland was on a list of 19 of the country’s most famous and well-known boardwalks, which included the Navy Pier in Chicago, Cony Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Santa Monica Pier in California and the Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
In his piece, Firpo-Cappiello said, “We tend to associate New England with quiet stretches of beach, but the boardwalk in Old Orchard Beach is an exception, with a full-blown amusement park, Palace Playland, right by the ocean. You’ll find easy rides for the kiddies, family-friendly water rides and the crazy adrenaline-junkie stuff, too.”
Frederick Golder, whose family owns Palace Playland, said this week he found about the park’s newfound fame on July 12, a day after Fox News published Firpo-Cappiello’s piece, which can be found online at www.foxnews.com/travel/2013/07/11/america-most-awesome-boardwalks.
The Golder family has owned the amusement park for the past 17 years, but Frederick Golder said there have been oceanfront rides in Old Orchard Beach since at least 1902.
Golder believes one reason the Palace Playland boardwalk received this national accolade is partly because of its “rich history and (being located on) a 7-mile stretch of beautiful beach.”
He said the family “takes great pride in providing a family- friendly environment. We are very honored to be given this designation. Old Orchard Beach is a town rich in history and we are fortunate to be a part of this town.”
Golder said he doesn’t know how Firpo-Cappiello heard about Palace Playland or even if and when Fox News came to visit, but did say, “We (always) work very hard to maintain the boardwalk for the enjoyment of our guests.”
While many may not think of Palace Playland as being on a boardwalk, which is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “a promenade made of wooden boards, usually along a beach or shore,” Golder said the park has a lot to offer, which is similar to more traditional boardwalks.
For instance, Palace Playland boasts an arcade, a variety of food offerings from fried clams and fried dough to Chinese, a variety of other games and vendors and, of course, the rides. New this year, Golder said, are a Mexican food stand and a crepes food stand, among some new and popular games.
Golder said the family would definitely use being designated as one of the country’s “most awesome boardwalks” as a marketing tool. “We will inform our guests that this is one more reason to visit us,” he said.
Jeffery Hinderliter, Old Orchard Beach’s planner and community development director, said the “positive press” received by Palace Playland “allows our town to be recognized nationally, which may reach people who have not considered Old Orchard Beach as a vacation destination.”
While proud of Palace Playland, Hinderliter pointed out that Old Orchard Beach is also well known for The Pier, which is owned by the Golzbein family, as well as a variety of other attractions “that (help) create a unique beachfront atmosphere.”
With Palace Playland’s recognition, Hinderliter hopes people will look into Old Orchard Beach and learn that “we have more than just our beautiful beach and ocean (to offer).”
Overall, he said, “I believe the town can do more self-promotion. Articles such as this and last year’s inclusion in Yankee Magazine as one of New England’s best beaches are tools we can (and should) use to show the positive, unsolicited recognition our town receives.”
Paul Golzbein at The Pier said this week that he’s “not surprised” to see Palace Playland named as a top go-to destination.
“I’m pleased. This is a very nice thing,” he said, not only for the Golder family, but for the town, as well.
“Any good news is good news,” he added.
And, this week comes news that the MiniTime website, which is devoted to providing information to families with young children, has named Old Orchard Beach and Palace Playland as one of its 7 Classic Beach Boardwalks.
On the site, writer Katrina Brown Hunt, says: “This 7-mile stretch of sand offers a 36-hole mini golf course, beach cruiser bikes and the 4-acre Palace Playland amusement park, which has 13 kiddie rides alongside classics such as a family log ride and the centrifugal-force Riptide. Don’t leave the boardwalk without introducing the kids to the joys of lobster rolls and be sure to stop at Dickinson’s Candy Factory, which offers 26 flavors of taffy.
“These days, an increasing number of boardwalk towns are emerging from makeovers as fresher and more family-friendly. These destinations are great reminders of why a beach-boardwalk vacation is still an evergreen summer getaway for families.”