Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Breakfast In The Sky And Other Delights In Wildwood, NJ!

By: Anne M. Raso

Wildwood, NJ, has long been known as one of the more well-kept towns on the Jersey shore, with the cleanest beaches (all free to the public) and the largest amount of kiddie rides for the eight and under crowd (not that there aren't several adult thrill rides on the three Morey's Piers jutting off the world-famous boardwalk). Keeping with the times, the town has updated some of its numerous "doo wop architecture" motels into a baby boomer heaven (there's even a free trolley tour that goes around from motel to motel on weekends that you can catch at the Doo Wop Cafe, directly across from the Wildwood Convention Center, and other locations).

~Must See~
The current tour de force of Wildwood, for we foodie folks at least, is Breakfast In The Sky. This unique dining concept was thought of by Will Morey, Sr., the late proprietor of Morey's Piers, back in the mid-90s but was not used as a regular operation until two years ago--and is only available in the months of July and August.
At $125 for a car fitting four people, you can dine on gourmet grub including steak and eggs, lobster omelets, fresh squeezed orange juice, Naked pomegranate juice, savory breakfast rolls and Danishes, all in the ferris wheel on the Morey's Pier known as Mariner's Landing (that's the one smack dab in the middle of the boardwalk at Schellenger Avenue, for those who know the city). If you have a fear of heights, you somehow lose it while docked high in the sky on your ferris wheel car (or "gondolas" as they are known in the carnival business). It's an experience you remember for a lifetime!
A white polo shirt-clad crew of six are there to greet you with a drink before you climb on board for your "in flight" dining experience (they suggest arriving a half hour before "flight time"). The breakfast cuisine is formally laid out with white linens, silverware, drinks in an ice bucket and even a couple of vases of flowers--all on a special table that fits across the "gondola." Your entrees are covered with metal plates to keep them warm room service style.
Carpenters took 22 attempts at creating the perfect table for Breakfast In The Sky and they finally achieved perfection. The white wooden tables (really boards fitted to the gondola centers) can be placed into the cars and removed in a matter of seconds. The ride is smooth and you are in the air 45 minutes dining, chatting and taking in the breathtaking views of Morey's Piers and all of Wildwood's attractions.
 Riders are moved into four different positions at 10-15 minutes each while they are in the air, so they are not really moving as they dine. Just for the record, customers have an instruction card on the table with a management number to call in case of an emergency (but sorry, no bathroom breaks), so there is nothing to worry about. We think this is a great family experience, as well a romantic date activity.

~Other Treats~
Adjacent to the Mariner's Landing Pier--right next to the aforementioned ferris wheel--is Raging Waters, one of the cleanest and most family-oriented water parks we have been, too. There's the Little Dipper Pool for toddlers, the Fountain Pool for family relaxation and the Shotgun Falls drop slides (for expert swimmers only) but our favorite is the crowd-pleasing Endless River. Just grab a single or double clear swimming tube and float up and downstream at your leisure.
A family of four can get all-day wristbands to go on the water rides an unlimited amount of times for $215 and different combo packs that include ride tickets are available by choosing Prices & Hours on the top of The greatest value, not surprisingly, is on season passes. Morey's has a second waterpark called the Ocean Oasis Water Parks Beach Club and wristbands allow visitors to go to both parks for one price.
Aside from the constant upgrading of Morey's Piers, the Wildwood Boardwalk has not changed much in the past fifty years. The local hotels/motels are proud of their "doo wop" culture and the official theme song--Bobby Rydell's 1963 hit "Wildwood Days"--plays every morning at 11 am after the National Anthem by Kate Smith.
That's the time that all the bike rentals--and there are plenty of biking vehicles to rent from bicycles built for two to all sorts of four-wheel carts that seat four or five passengers--have to be returned and every heads to the beach, rides and arcades.
Our top Wildwood hotel pick is the StarLux at the intersection of Rio Grande and Atlantic Avenues, close to the Convention Center and famous "WILDWOODS" signs (yes, that is PLURAL because it is the border between Northern Wildwood and just plain ol' Wildwood). The 1950s "space age" decor includes a lava lamp in each room, a kidney-shaped pool with blaring rock and roll classics from 1957 to 1973, a retro "rec room" where a free breakfast is served from 8 to 10 each morning, and an "ice cube" wall in each bathroom.
Rooms (which include a small kitchen and roomy separate bedroom) are about $200 plus tax in the summer months, and you can even rent the renovated aluminum trailers out in their parking lot (they will set you back over $250 per night, though). They are kind of the Jersey Shore equivalent of the bungalows at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
For more info, go to or call 609-522-7412. As a side note, the kind folks at Morey's own the StarLux, so they offer guests half-price tickets on all their Boardwalk attractions.
Directly across from the StarLux is the super-quaint ice cream cottage known as the Sea Shell Ice Cream (300 East Rio Grande Avenue, phone 609-522-7822) which makes a mean cappucino and espresso. They serve Jack and Jilll ice cream and usually have 60 flavors available; a humungous double dip cone (that seems to use nearly a full pint of ice cream) will set you back only $4.50.
For those who have heard about some of Wildwood's classic dining, we recommend Dominic's Place (5209 Pacific Avenue, phone 609-522-2630) for anything with old school red "gravy" on it and the freshest seafood, not to mention a tasty goat cheese and fresh fig stuffed chicken breast called Chicken Dominic that is one of their signature dishes (entrees are prices at $14 to $20).
The aforementioned trolleys run right in front so you can take a ride around town after you are done eating on weekends--or head directly across the street to Duffer's Mini Golf/Arcade/Ice Cream Shop complex (5210 Pacific Avenue, phone 609-729-1817). There can be a long line on summer weekends, but who can resist the talking shark or singing penguins that become you onto the course!
So head to Wildwood for a wild or mild time--it's your choice! For general tourism information, check out

Photos: Anne M. Raso

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