Here we go.
HOT BEACH THING #1: CLOWN GAME
One of my favorite things about Ocean City is that it’s trapped in time to a certain extent. So much of it remains virtually unchanged not only from when I was a kid, but some from even my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. This clown game on the boardwalk used to be my favorite game. It’s the one where you shoot water in the mouth to inflate the balloon. I’ve seen many variations on this type of game at carnivals and even other stands in OC, but the clown/balloon combo is the only one that seems like “the real one” to me.
HOT BEACH THING #2: PIRATES COVE
Aw yeah, the Pirates Cove. This my personal number one tradition to walk through this every year. I’ve never seen anyone else over the age of twelve inside of it, which is really inexplicable, because this fun house is insanely awesome. Again, it’s another one of those things basically unchanged since childhood, with the same creepy day-glo paintings, black lights, skulls, drunk pirates, and low-rent animatronic figures nodding left and right. There’s a strobe room, a mirror maze room, a spinning tunnel, and some four year old up ahead screaming their guts out. You could walk through it in less than two minutes, but I always try to stretch it out and absorb all the awesomeness to hold me over until next year.
HOT BEACH THING #3: RAIDERS
This is one of those jungle gym/open-air fun houses built in 1982, and never updated to reflect new trends or movies—just as it should be. If only there were more places in the world trapped in the 1980s. It’s not just the beach that I love, it’s the personal nostalgia quest.
HOT BEACH THING #4: SALEM ALEIKUM
Another fun house, this time with an Aladdin’s Lamp theme. I’ve always thought the fun house itself was kind of crappy, but I have no shortage of love for the gigantic genie dude atop the building.
I also have love for these dudes:
But I have no love for the barrel tunnel:
Traumatic childhood story. This is one of those tunnels that spins while you sprint across it. Once, when I was a kid, I became paralyzed by the thought of it. I was walking through the fun house happily, when suddenly I stopped in front the tunnel, and just quivered in my Nikes. I was absolutely terrified of running through. I mean, the thing was spinning—fast. That’s just not smart to run through. I could fall and crack my head open. Or rather, what I imagined, I’d somehow spin upside down with the barrel, something like when my hamster would run on his hamster wheel, and I would cruelly spin it around. He went upside down with it! So funny! And now here I was, staring down my own hamster wheel, knowing payback was a bitch.
My sister ran through the hamster wheel tunnel unfazed, but I cowered before it. After a few minutes, my parents began yelling for me to hurry up and run through. But I still refused. I became convinced that they’d have to leave me behind—that I’d be stuck here in Salem Aleikum forever. Eventually, the ride attendant turned the tunnel off, and I sauntered through, playing it cool, as though I hadn’t just had a big baby scene in front of the whole park.
The next year, they added a second tunnel with a bridge:
SEE I WASN’T THE ONLY ONE. THAT SHIT IS TERRIFYING.
HOT BEACH THING #5: HIMALAYA PEOPLE
Here’s one that’s possibly unchanged since the 1960s. The ride is the Himalaya—a spinning ride that revolves around these painted 1960s twentysomethings frolicking in the snow. Just think, if they were real people, they would be in their 70s by now. It’s about 4:30pm right now as I write this, which means these people would be at the Da Vinci’s restaurant getting the early bird special.
HOT BEACH THING #6: LET’S GO JUNGLE
Let’s Go Jungle is a two-player shooter arcade game where you shoot gigantic mutant spiders with machine guns, and then in what seems like pure Japanese fashion, you get a love compatibility score with your game partner. We just discovered this game, and have pumped several bucks into it so far. I’m not even into shooter or arcade games, but this one is great fun. Giant Tarantulas! Machine guns! LOVE COMPATIBILITY SCORE. Let’s Go Jungle. DO IT.
HOT BEACH THING #7: FROG BOG
I love this game. You throw down a hammer to catapult a frog onto a rotating lillypad platform. I won it once, and I’ve been trying to recapture the glory ever since.
HOT BEACH THING #8: FROG NIPPLES
The girlfriend: “Whoa, check out the nipples on that frog.”
Me: “TAKE A PICTURE IT’S TOTALLY ON MY LIST OF HOT BEACH THINGS.”