Billed as Boston’s answer to Disneyland, Pleasure Island opened on June 22, 1959. William Hawkes, president of Childlife Magazine, and executives at Cabot, Cabot and Forbes collaborated with Marco Engineering of Los Angeles to build what was called the “Disneyland of the East.” Pleasure Island rose from the wetlands off of Route 128 into an 80-acre theme park. Through photographs, Pleasure Island recalls memories of boat rides to Pirate Cove, searching for the great white whale, driving a Jenney car, getting dizzy in the Slanty Shanty, and taking a ride on Old Smoky. At Pleasure Island, children and children at heart entered into a world that traditional amusement parks could not provide, where character actors continually put on a show and the entire park was the stage.
Author Bio: Robert McLaughlin is a Wakefield resident with an interest in local history. He has been researching Pleasure Island since 2000 and is cofounder of the Friends of Pleasure Island, which was established to collect images, film, oral history, and artifacts relating to the park. He has selected images from private collections and the Friends of Pleasure Island’s archives to tell the story of Wakefield’s own Disneyland of the East.
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