Former “Tracy Gang” member rides again!
Gillian's New Haunted House Shows Dark (And Classic) Roots
Wayne Seddon, the director of creativity and design at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, NJ considers himself very fortunate. Fortunate that he got the green light to design a new dark ride that channels the artistry of the late, great Bill Tracy. Fortunate that his creation and the park itself survived the rage of Superstorm Sandy in late October.

“We had a lot of cleaning up from the storm, but we did not receive anywhere near the damage they had north of us,” said Wayne, referring to Sandy’s damaging and destructive impact on some of the amusement attractions at Seaside Heights and Keansburg on the northern side of the Jersey Shore. Wayne has been employed at Wonderland Pier since 1989. He launched his

career working with the “Tracy Gang” shortly after Tracy’s death in 1974. Wayne’s brother Jack had worked for Tracy’s Amusement Display Associates in Cape May, NJ and Wayne was added to the staff of talented designers who continued the business as “This Is, Inc.” in 1975.

“I worked with Tom Thailer, my brother Jack, Ron Trout, Eli Lashley , Bob McKendry , Evie Frank and others who came on later including Jim Melonic", Wayne proudly recalled. “It was a great crew and one flooded with talent and creativity. I worked on rides in Dorney Park, Bells Amusement Park, Trimpers, Wonderland Pier, Hunts Pier and others. I remember doing rehab work on a ride at an Atlantic City amusement pier and when I was painting black paint on the dark ride it was so cold it was freezing on the walls! Most of the work we did at “This Is“ was new. I would say 70% was new work and 30% was rehab work.”

His park’s Haunted House Dark Ride opened late last season just weeks before Sandy struck the East Coast.

“The dark ride was a recommendation from me almost right from the start,” said Wayne “I finally pestered Jay Gillian, the current owner, enough to get him to commit to the project and he is in 100% and wants to make it the best that we can.”

The park repurposed its former maintenance shop for the dark ride. The overall dimensions of the building are 48.8 x 91.3 and the track is 273 feet in a mostly serpentine pattern, but ending in a long straightaway. The fleet of eight cars (six in normal operation and two spares) were manufactured by Bertazzon. Since the ride was only open to the public for a short amount of time, Wayne said that he is continuing to tweak it during the off-season.

“From the beginning the dark ride was done with the spirit of the old dark rides in mind...and as far as I was concerned, Tracy was in mind too,” recalls Wayne.

“I even made a tombstone with Tracy's name on it with one of his old vultures on top. We didn't make it to be an in your face scare but more like a ride to entertain; a lot like an old Tracy ride but with a few unexpected scares."
Right: Carpenters were out in force turning an old workshop into a new dark ride.

Below: The fully decorated facade center gable and car lineup.

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