This post is part of a series on the five big gifts the elves at Morey’s Piers are busy building for our next season of guests, from new bike racks to comfier roller coaster vehicles. This way, if you stuff a loved one’s stocking with pier passes (discounted now as part of our Winter Holiday Sale!), you can feel confident you’re offering the best Morey’s experience yet. Who knows? It may even land you on Santa’s nice list…
Want to hear something crazy? Not everyone enjoys rides. Strange but true.
Some people would rather relax under a lush and sun-dappled canopy, maybe with a cold beer or refreshing glass of lemonade in hand (Okay, when you put it like that, it doesn’t sound so crazy).
This has always been the point of the Parents’ Pavilion on Mariners Pier — to give our visitors a chance to sit back and catch their breath in a rocking chair while their kids or loved ones whirl, twirl and splash their way through our attractions. Now, this pavilion — and our adjacent Tea Cups ride — will receive a much-anticipated facelift.Or, as second-generation partner Jack Morey puts it: “It’s going to feel like a peaceful pleasure garden.”
But first, some background…
The 40-by-25-foot Parent’s Pavilion was built on Mariner’s Pier in 1997, and it’s dedicated to the late Will Morey Sr, who founded the piers. This was one of the last projects he worked on with his sons — Jack and his brother Will Jr — who now run the family business with much involvement from their own four sons.
But the pavilion holds symbolic importance, also, because it represents an important turning point in Morey’s design ethos. Before this project, we didn’t dream of devoting this much space to anything but a ride.
“So it demonstrates one of the first times we started embracing public space on the piers,” Jack says. “We started focusing not just on the entertainment of the riders, but on the peaceful enjoyment of the spectators.”
The upgraded pavilion will receive new gingerbread trim around its wooden base, but the piece de resistance will be a decorative steel trellis to replace the original wood iteration. It’s a project that will take more than six weeks and a lot of specialized equipment for local ironworker Kevin Mitchell to complete. Sort of like the hidden mouse ears you’ll find incorporated into designs all over Disney, the trellis will incorporate hidden Easter eggs, like little beach balls, starfish and the iconic Wildwood W. It will also be illuminated with soft, Tivoli lighting.
Then, climbing through the trellis will be wisteria or trumpet vine, a hearty plant that will stand up to salt air while providing natural shade. Surrounding the pavilion, too, will be an explosion of colorful ivy geraniums.
“Jack always throws me a challenge!” says landscaper Lenny Catanoso of Garden Greenhouse and Nursery in Clermont. “But the Moreys are so enjoyable to work with, because they see the value in putting something like this together. It’s not going to make any money — it’s just going to be a nice spot to relax.”
Like a lot of the contractors on this job, Lenny has a connection to Will Morey, Sr. His own dad worked with Will 60 years ago. Then, when Lenny took over his family’s landscaping operation, he had the chance to work with Will for many years, too.
“He was an incredible man I always admired,” he says. “The project definitely takes on added importance knowing it’s dedicated to him.”
Those sitting in this new-and-improved pavilion will have a primo view of the Tea Cups ride, which is being outfitted with new flower boxes and, on the roof, new Tivoli lighting and a wind vane in the shape of a six-foot mermaid that’s being brought to life by a local artist. In the surrounding area will be Victorian-style benches and additional layers of landscape.
Our hope is that the space will provide a little haven of calm amidst all that whirling, twirling and splashing.
Who knows? Maybe even the adrenaline junkies amongst us will take a minute to pause and enjoy — in honor of Will Morey Sr, of course.