After reading Devil in the White City (Amazon), a book about the 1893 Chicago World Exposition, I became intrigued with the concept and strategic purpose for World’s Fairs. A colleague named Jim Futrell, an amusement historian, was instrumental in educating me about the significance of the Chicago Exposition as it related to the amusement business. Jim and I serve on the Hall of Fame committee of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and this year Daniel Burnham, essentially the lead designer of the Chicago Exposition, was inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame. As you may know, the Ferris Wheel, designed by Mr. Ferris, was invented at the Chicago Exhibition. What was equally intriguing to me is that the Eiffel Tower, designed by Mr. Eiffel for the Paris Exposition of 1889, created a competitive game of one ups man ship and hence led to the invention of the Ferris Wheel, which today, next to the Carousel, is one of the most iconic pieces of an amusement park. So with this in hand, I decided to go see what was to be invented at the largest Worlds Fair ever developed, China Expo 2010. Well, I didn’t see any amusement rides, but did find, or perhaps what I re-discovered, was the importance of public spaces. With nearly 70 million people attending the Expo in a period of about 6 months (oh and I attended on the busiest day of the expo with nearly 1,000,000 million of my closest friends), it was a fascinating display of public transportation, entertainment, and social gathering.
So how does this relate to Morey’s Piers and the Wildwood Boardwalk? (Yes, after all this was a company paid research trip.) Well, it’s a fact that the beach, boardwalk, and pier environment are all very public experiences. There are no gates to enter the beach, the boardwalk, or the piers. Regardless of their private or public ownership, they are free to the whole world to enjoy. ...sort of a refreshing thought in today’s society where there is “no free lunch”.
More than ever, I am committed to helping the Wildwoods and Morey’s Piers follow its own course and achieve its own potential. I believe we should NOT attempt to copy a Disney, a Universal, a Myrtle Beach, a Cape May, Ocean City, Long Beach, Santa Cruz, Black Pool or any other attraction or city that may be great. Their formula for success is not necessarily a recipe for us We are the Wildwoods, we are Morey’s Piers, we are Boardwalk………oh, and by golly we are tacky with a capital “T” and proud of it.
(Part 4 of 4)