In the later part of the 19th century there were two primary modes of transportation: trains and horse/buggy. A lot of the trains were actually trollies that operated around larger cities. In order to increase ridership, many of the streetcar companies created picnic and recreational areas along their lines. These parks became known as trolley parks and were the precursors to the modern amusement parks that we enjoy today.
At the beginning of the 20th century, 1903 to be specific, a new picnic spot opened along the Camden Interstate Railway street car line named Camden Park. By 1950 it contained a carousel and a few rides and J.P. Boylin transformed it into an amusement park that is still operating today.
This traditional park provides a nostalgic atmosphere and classic rides that our parents and grandparents grew up enjoying. There are some rides still operating here today that have long been removed and forgotten by many other parks.
The 21st century has not passed by Camden Park, however, as is evident in this automatic cotton candy machine.
We came for the Spooktacular event, so all their rides weren’t operating. Over 20 of them were in full swing, though.
The park was adorned with a nice assortment of decorations.
One of the classics that is a must-ride is their Haunted House. It is one of the two remaining indoor haunted house rides left that was made by Gravity Pretzel. It has a coaster-type chain lift that takes you to the second floor, then gravity takes its course and pulls you through the rest of the house as you whip around corners to face the next scare. This ride is well maintained and will hopefully be around to excite many more generations of visitors.
One of the reasons to visit this park is the Big Dipper coaster. It was built in 1958 and is one of the few remaining roller coasters that National Amusement Device Company produced. It has been designated as an American Coaster Enthusiasts’ Classic Coaster. It provides a classic wooden coaster ride.
The controls have remained largely unchanged to this day.
For a view of the park from above, you’ll want to take a ride on the Skyliner.
No amusement park experience is complete without a Carousel and Camden Park has a vintage one for all ages to enjoy.
Other classic rides include a Ferris Wheel and The Whip.
If you love amusement parks, you’ve most likely come to enjoy Flying Scooters, or more commonly known as flyers. While you can just sit back and enjoy the ride, it is fun to use the front rudder to swoop down towards the ground then back high into the air. Don’t get discouraged, it takes some practice to learn this skill. Skilled flyer pilots can reach unimagined heights.
As darkness falls, the big attraction at the park is gearing up; Camden Park’s Legendary Haunted Train Ride.
The rides on the inside of the train tracks are closed for the season during this event as the train course is transformed into a haunt that is fun and scary for all ages. I’ll spare you the details so you can stop by and experience it yourself.
The line for this attraction will most likely be the longest wait that you experience during the Spooktacular event.
We had a good time, but the some of the disrepair that the park went through during the 1980s with the previous owners is still evident. Improvements made since the Boylin family started managing the park again in the mid 1990s is also evident. Hopefully their continued improvements will breath new life into the park and keep it around for another century of enjoyment for families of all ages.
Ticket prices for general admission top out around $22 but with some planning you can usually find coupons for $5 off that you can print from their website. We also found their food prices to be lower than average for an amusement park. That makes for an affordable experience for most families.
If you have anybody disabled in your party you should note that very few rides in this park appeared to be ADA Accessible. This provided a slight challenge for us but we were still able to enjoy a majority of the park with some extra effort on our part.