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Disneyland many times, and he loved its 1959 Matterhorn Bobsleds. In 1961, he met changing public tastes when he converted the wooden tracks of his Junior Coaster to tubular steel tracks and added bobsled-styled cars. To this day, it's one of Seabreeze's most popular rides.


In 1973, at the age of 81, George Long was ready to retire and considered selling his beloved park for a condominium development; Seabreeze could have become yet another statistic in the history of America's great traditional trolley/amusement parks. But his grandchildren, Anne, John, George and Rob Norris, who later were joined by their cousin Suzy (Price) Hofsass, decided to devote themselves to the industry that they had grown to love.


“My grandfather would take my brother George and me around the country to visit the other parks,” Rob recalls. “It enabled us to see the amusement industry in its entirety, and we became hooked.”


One of the first changes that the new regime made was to officially change the park's name from Dreamland Park back to Seabreeze. After all, that was how the locals referred to it anyway. But the more worrisome change they instituted was to put up a gate and charge admission. “We were concerned about that one,” Rob Norris concedes, “but it needed to be done. The industry had evolved from ‘amusement’ parks into the 'theme' parks, pay-one-price policies had been


instituted, and we just couldn't operate profitably with an open gate. Yes, there was some minor backlash, but we've been fortunate to have a loyal following.” Continual free parking, letting people bring in their own food and offering a cheaper spectator pass for non-riders have helped maintain and build Seabreeze's attendance, and the park has flourished. The waterpark, opened in 1990, has been wildly popular, while new attractions such as the Whirlwind spinning coaster from Maurer Söhne, Revolution 360º (Disk ‘O’) from Zamperla, Moser Spring Ride, Bertazzon Musik Express and last season’s Twirling Tea Cups brings guests back year after year. Today's Seabreeze is a clean, modern, beautiful park, with a strong following within a 120-mile radius. It's a shining example of survival in a very challenging industry. “We usually add something every other year.” Norris allows. “We are careful, and if we hit a soft time, we just tighten up and keep moving. We’re caretakers of this institution that is Seabreeze, and we have to do it right. We keep it valid, and we keep it fresh.”


Gary Kyriazi is the author of The Great American Amusement Parks and the writer/producer of America Screams, the first pictorial history and television documentary about American amusement parks. He has been a researcher and historian on amusement parks for 40 years.





Continual


free parking, letting people bring in their own food and a cheaper spectator pass for non-riders have helped maintain and build Seabreeze's attendance


MAIN PIC, LEFT TO RIGHT: John Norris, Jack Norris, Alex Norris, Genevieve Norris, Rob Norris, Anne Norris, George Norris and Suzy Hofsass


seabreeze.com





MAY 2012


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