Important Notice
Sadly, we must report that with the season of 2004, Kastle Frankenstein is no more. Removed over the past winter, the ride and a large portion of Pirates Park have been replaced with condominiums. This article now becomes a memorial to what was the last dark ride in Massachusetts.

Of the great Massachusetts seaside amusement resorts which included Revere Beach and Nantasket Beach, Salisbury Beach is the lone survivor. Overlooking the northern shoreline near the New Hampshire border, it continues to draw visitors seeking fun, food and games from the upper New England states . Where once it boasted several independent amusement ride parks, it has gradually shifted its emphasis from rides to food and entertainment. It is also a game-lover's paradise with a wide variety of game and pinball machines filling several large arcades. Although Shaheen's Fun-O-Rama park, the old carousels, the Comet coaster, Dodgems, ferris wheels and many funhouses and dark rides have disappeared over the years, Pirate's Fun Park remains as the last purveyor of amusement rides for those who still yearn for a thrill.

Some postcard views of Salisbury Beach over the years. At left is an aerial view from the fifties.
Right: In the 20's, the original Wildcat coaster and an early funhouse at right.
Left: The same view in the 40's with new PTC Comet coaster and Dodgem. This became the site of Pirate's Fun Park.

Right: View of game and food stands in the 50's. Large clown sits atop the roof of a walk-through funhouse.
A kind of legend arose over the pirate-themed dark ride which was installed as part of Roger Shaheen's Fun-O-Rama park in Salisbury Beach, situated just outside the park's border, directly across from their Witch Castle dark ride. The Pirate ride was reputed to have been removed and sold to Mountain Park, Holyoke, MA, in the mid to late 1970s where it operated until that park's final season in 1987. The ride was then disassembled

and sold to Pirate's Fun Park located at Salisbury Beach. If true, it would be a very unusual round-trip for a dark ride to take, especially one themed on the outside as a ship.

At left: A very rare view of Shaheen's Pirate ride. The ship is facing toward the right. At the right end directly under the mermaid, it bears the name: "Jolly Roger".

 
 

At right is a view of the Pirate's Den at Mountain Park. This, as they say, is where the plot thickens. A close examination of the Shaheen ride at Salisbury (above) reveals the name to be "Pirate's Cove", and the ship is facing toward the right. In Mountain Park, it's named "Pirate's Den" and the ship if facing to the left.


 


All three of the rides use the late model Pretzel car system. But, although the cars run right-to-left in traditional fashion in the Mountain Park and Pirate's Park rides, the Shaheen ride is running in a left-to-right direction, rare for Pretzel setups. At left, the Pirate's Den in Pirate's Fun Park in Salisbury. The ship is facing left as was Mountain Park's, but its width appears to have been cut down, perhaps to fit the smaller frontage.

The large Pirate's head was a fixture on the Mountain Park rides as well as a Pirate's Den ride that was located at Lincoln Park in North Dartmouth, MA. These heads are very likely the work of the late Domenic Spadola, an amusement park artist who worked extensively throughout New England amusement parks for many years. When Pirate's Fun Park rethemed its Pirate ride, the head was placed atop another building at the center of the park.
 

The fact that the original Shaheen ride's ship exterior was facing to the right and that its car/track system was set up to run left to right makes it very unlikely that it is the ride which went to Mountain Park and later returned to Salisbury at Pirate's Fun Park. The Pirate's Cove name is another difference.
The Pirate dark rides were a uniquely New England amusement phenomenon. Another was located at Whalom Park in Lunenberg, MA. That ride burned down back when the park was still in operation. The previously mentioned ride at Lincoln Park had a boat-styled car system probably obtained from the "Wreck of the Herperus" ride at Pleasure Island in Wakefield, MA after that park closed. The rides may have been built with an eye toward the New England shipping and whaling heritage as well as an attempt to emulate the very popular Disney 'Pirates of the Caribbean' ride, but on a more modest scale and budget.

Of all the Pirate rides that operated at these New England parks, the Pirate's Den in Pirate's Fun Park was the last. And that last Pirate would soon sail off into the sunset.
Change was in the wind, and in 1999, the Pirates had left port to be replaced by something darker and much more sinister......