On June 22, 1959, a half of century ago, the doors finally opened for the anticipated Pleasure Island 80-acre theme park in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Pleasure Island was located just off Route 128 at the Salem Street exit, which was only fourteen minutes away from the heart of Boston. Many people were very excited when they saw the advertisement in the Comic Section of The Boston Sunday Globe newspaper on Father’s Day, June 21, 1959. The advertisement was very attracting and displayed a sign and a map of Pleasure Island to catch the attention of many people including a phrase you will have a “whale of a time” visiting Pleasure Island. Pleasure Island opened up fifty years ago today at 10:00am in Wakefield, Massachusetts that became known as the “Disneyland of the East”.
Boston Sunday Globe June 21, 1959 advertisement: http://friendsofpleasureisland.org/years/1959/globe-ad.htm
William Hawkes who was president of Childlife Magazine, executives at Cabot, Cabot and Forbes came together with Marco Engineering of Los Angeles and created the marvelous theme park that was called Pleasure Island. The theme park had live characters that were constantly performing live shows all around the entire park. There was a carousel, Treasure Digging Island, water buffalo land and sea ride, space rocket, boat rides to Pirate Cove, driving a Jenney car, and much more.
If you do not know what Pleasure Island is or have never been or just want to relive the memories, the Friends of Pleasure Island website is a non-profit organization that you can view the attractions, images, memorabilia, performers, stories of people who visited Pleasure Island, and much more. The website is very interesting and you can get a better understanding of the great “Disneyland of the East” theme park and really feel what Pleasure Island was all about through photos and stories.
In honor of the 50th anniversary, Robert McLaughlin wrote a special book titled Pleasure Island. Robert McLaughlin has been researching Pleasure Island since the year 2000 and he is also the cofounder of Friends of Pleasure Island website. The paperback book has 128 pages and was published by Arcadia Publishing on June 8, 2009 in English. You can purchase the paperback book at many places including Borders, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, or Arcardia Publishing, and some local places in Massachusetts that are featured on the Friends of Pleasure Island website. If you are lucky enough, Bob McLaughlin, President of Pleasure Island has a limited supply of autographed books. You can contact him at the Friends of Pleasure Island website by telephone or email. This would also make a great gift for anyone that has visited Pleasure Island in those ten wonderful years. You may also contact Bob McLaughlin if you have any memorabilia, photos, slides, and stories that you are willing to share.
The Friends of Pleasure Island has announced that they have a small sample of park memorabilia on exhibit at the Lucius Bee Memorial Library at 245 Main Street, Wakefield, MA 01880. If you live there or planning a trip to Massachusetts, this would be a great exhibit to see.