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Park Review


By the time the Jack Rabbit debuted, George W. Long Jr.,


the amusement industry running through his veins, was aggressively managing the park. He had replaced the old Figure Eight coaster with the Virginia Reel in 1921, and was there when a dance hall was erected in 1924 and the Natatorium, a large outdoor salt-water swimming pool, was added in 1925. In 1926 PTC built what would be, in its time, the park's tallest roller coaster, the 93-foot-tall Wildcat, which was subsequently dismantled in 1935. In 1937, Long began renting Seabreeze from the trolley company that still owned it, until he finally purchased the entire park in 1946 for $85,000 and renamed it Dreamland. “My grandfather was in love with the park,” George W.


Long’s grandson Rob Norris recalls today. “He was hard- working, dedicated, driven, and he believed in the value of hard work. As such he closely supervised every aspect of the park, and it was his passion and scrutiny that drove Seabreeze's growth after he bought it.” So driven, and aided by his daughters Lois and Betty, and


their husbands Merrick Price and Bob Norris, George Long proceeded through the 1950's with a wooden Junior Coaster, a Fun House, a dark ride, train ride, and the Over The Falls water chutes ride in 1958.


Work Ethic In George Long's drive and dedication to detail, one recalls a Walt Disney type of passion, and in fact, Disney did have an unknowing influence in the creation of what is Seabreeze's most unique ride. George Long visited Disneyland many times, and he loved its 1959 Matterhorn Bobsleds. As he met the change of public tastes in the 1960's, Long converted the wooden tracks of his Junior Coaster to tubular steel tracks, added bobsled-styled cars, and opened his Bobsleds in 1961. 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 revitalize the park and 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.” Also, their grandfather's work ethic and attention to details had affected his family. “His legacy, I believe, is the reason that Seabreeze has survived.”


JUNE 2019


One of the first changes that the new regime made was to


officially change the park's name from Dreamland 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, and they stayed with us.” The continual free parking, letting people bring in their own food, and offering a cheaper Spectator Pass for non-riders, all helped maintain and build Seabreeze's attendance.


Thriving “Yes, we have the parents and grandparents, and great grandparents, who have loved the park all their lives and who still want to visit along with their children. We consider ourselves a family park." As a result, Seabreeze has flourished. Construction of the


waterpark has been wildly popular. Introduction of compelling new attractions such as the Revolution 360 from Zamperla, a Moser Spring Ride, a Whirlwind spinning coaster from Maurer Söhne, a Bertazzon Music Express, Twirling Tea Cups by Zamperla, Bertazzon Wave Swinger, Zamperla Balloon Race, Time Machine by Technical Park, and New Twister and Pipeline slides from ProSlide in the Soak Zone waterpark. These new attractions bring guests back year after year. Today's Seabreeze is a clean, modern, beautiful park with a strong regional following within a 120-mile radius. It's a shining example of survival in a very challenging industry. In fact, today Seabreeze not only survives – it thrives. The park continues to grow every year, and in 2018 it won the Travelers Choice Award for a Top 25 Amusement Park in America. Last year, 2018, was their most successful season ever. “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.” The park remains fresh and valid after 140 successful years in business, and the Seabreeze family looks forward to many more years of family fun.


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


6


The Seabreeze Family's 5th and 6th


Generation Rob Norris: president and GM. Focus on vision for the future, government relations, association work, design and engineering, maintenance, and leadership. Anne Wells: Rob’s sister, vice


president and treasurer. Focus on finance and office operations. George Norris: Rob’s brother,


vice president. Focus on technology and entertainment. John Norris: Rob’s brother, vice


president and secretary. Focus on marketing, promotions, communications, public relations, and games. Deb Norris: Rob’s wife, assists


with landscape design and gardening. Genevieve Norris: Rob’s daughter,


Director of Operations and Personnel. Focus on operations, personnel, insurance, retail buying, etc. Alex Norris: John’s son, Director


of Information Technology. Focus on integrated systems, computers, controls, communications, etc. Jack Norris: John’s son, attends college at Wentworth Institute of Technology, majoring in industrial design.


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