The following is a summary from the book Amusement Parks of New Jersey by Jim Futrell. Published by Stackpole Books of Mechanicsburg, PA. Amusement Parks of New Jersey features an in-depth history of Jenkinson’s Boardwalk along with 15 other parks operating in New Jersey. For ordering information please visit www.stackpolebooks.com or call (800) 732-3669.
Charles Jenkinson was one of the many entrepreneurs that flocked to the Atlantic shore to seek their fortune by catering to the throngs of tourists that came to enjoy the sea air. In the early 1900’s, Jenkinson opened soda fountains in the shore towns of Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. Both stores occupied leased space and Jenkinson eventually grew tired of the restrictions placed on him by his landlords.
As a result, in 1926 he acquired property in the nearby town of Point Pleasant Beach. Its boardwalk was much quieter than the ones in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove and he saw an opportunity to have a significant impact. In 1928, Jenkinson’s Pavilion opened for business, totally transforming the sleepy Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk.
The Pavilion was a large open air building on the beach featuring a candy shop, soda fountain and refreshment stand. On the opposite side of the boardwalk from the Pavilion, Jenkinson built a novelty store and a swimming pool. The business grew rapidly, with a dance hall opening in 1929 and a miniature golf course soon after.
Despite the Depression that was impacting business throughout the country, Jenkinson’s was able to thrive and in 1934, the operation expanded by acquiring the beach, and a bathhouse and pavilion north of his existing operation at the inlet, the place where the Manasquan River flowed into the ocean.
Charles Jenkinson passed away in 1937 but his son, Orlo, stepped in and growth continued. In 1949, Jenkinson’s opened a miniature train ride along the beach to connect the operations at the Pavilion to the inlet facilities. It remained a popular attraction until it was retired in 1996. With the additional acreage at the Inlet, Jenkinson’s opened a small kiddie park in 1954 that remained a popular attraction until being replaced by a miniature golf course in the mid-1960’s.
In 1964, Orlo Jenkinson passed away and his son took over the business. While Jenkinson’s remained a popular destination, without the hands-on leadership that Orlo provided, it went into a period of stagnation.
By the late 1970’s, the Jenkinson’s operation was struggling and new blood was needed to revitalize the Pavilion and boardwalk. Pasquale “Pat” Storino, a juke box and arcade games dealer, was looking for a new opportunity that would not require so much travel. His family had owned a summer home in Point Pleasant Beach since the 1940’s and he thought the tired old Pavilion would be a great opportunity.
Storino reached a deal to purchase the Jenkinson’s holdings and immediately launched a renovation of the Pavilion, creating an arcade, concessions stands, games and a restaurant. In 1978, a dinner theater was added to the Pavilion and in 1980, a waterslide complex replaced the aging swimming pool and miniature golf course.
Storino knew that the long-term future of his business depended on him acquiring control of as much of the boardwalk as possible so that he could create a multi-faceted destination. In 1980, he acquired Fun Fair, a small kiddie park that was located across the boardwalk from the pavilion. This was followed in 1983, when Pat, with his brother Vincent Storino, purchased Holiday Playland, another small amusement park located on the southern end of the boardwalk. Holiday Playland was immediately renamed Jenkinson’s South after the 1983 season and many of the thrill rides were sold to make room for more family oriented rides.
1987 was a critical year for Jenkinson’s amusement park operations. Following the end of the season, Fun Fair was closed and replaced by an elaborate miniature golf course, while Herman’s Amusements, an amusement park located next door to Jenkinson’s South, was purchased.
By 1989, Storino was well on his way to realizing his ultimate vision for the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk. The southern end was now anchored by a single family-oriented amusement park featuring about two dozen rides, while the northern end featured the Inlet facilities. At the heart of the boardwalk was the original Pavilion, now supplemented by a new miniature golf course that replaced the Fun Fair and the waterslides that replaced the original pool.
But on November 22, 1989, Storino’s vision suffered a major setback when a fire broke out in the Pavilion’s kitchen, which was closed for the season and under renovation. When the fire was finally under control, the Pavilion that gave birth to the entire operation was a total loss. Only a friendly wind kept the fire from spreading to the boardwalk.
But Storino was undeterred and immediately began making plans to replace the Pavilion. Construction was complete on the new cement and steel structure the following May. Like the original, the new 1,200 seat Pavilion was the heart of Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, featuring a food court facing the boardwalk and a full service restaurant in back, along with live entertainment, tropical themed bars and a large arcade.
With the Pavilion successfully restored, Storino turned his attention to upgrading the boardwalk. Throughout the late 1980’s, business at the waterslides had been declining in the face of the popularity of the beach and competition from nearby waterparks. They were removed and in 1991, Jenkinson’s Aquarium opened for business.
In 1998, Jenkinson’s turned back the clock with the addition of a fun house. At one time nearly every amusement park had a fun house where visitors would encounter a variety of tricks and obstacles, but by the 1990’s, they had pretty much disappeared. Located along the boardwalk near the Pavilion, the 4,000 square foot, two-story Fun House was designed by Jack Rouse Associates of Cincinnati. Among the features were mazes, “shrinking” rooms, a rotating tunnel, trick mirrors, air blasts, sound effects, black lights, moving floors and a slide. The Fun House anchored a larger multi-year renovation of much of Jenkinson’s Boardwalk that included a new bathhouse, the Sweet Shop, the Boardwalk Bar and Grill and Joey Tomatoes Pizza. The Fun House continues to evolve each year with changes to the themes of its rooms which provides new obstacles to test even its most loyal of fans.