The Keansburg Amusement Park and Runaway Rapids are located in Keansburg, New Jersey, along the shore of Sandy Hook Bay. The park, which has been open since 1904, offers family friendly entertainment between Memorial Day weekend and mid-September each year. Rides at the park include classics for kids such as the Antique Cars ride, boats and motorcycles, a balloon Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, carousel and miniature train.
The Kiddie Pedal Cars and Airplane Ride have been operating since 1930, making them the oldest rides in the park. Rides for older children include bumper cars, the swing ride and a log flume ride. The park also offers a climbing wall and haunted house, the Hollwgraves Haunted Manor. The haunted house opened in 1995 as a Halloween attraction, and was moved to Keansburg Amusement Park in 2012. The family-friendly attraction includes animatronic ghosts as well as live actors.
The park offers three large arcades and several classic midway games, including Bob’s Fishing Game and the Duck Pond, Balloon Darts, and Water Gun Races. The classic High Striker, is a ring-the-bell-with-a-sledgehammer test of strength. Two different go-kart tracks include the Grand Prix and the Short Track. Riders can book single or double go-karts. Additional activities include fishing at the Keansburg Pier; there is free access to the Keansburg beaches at the park’s edge.
Among the more thrilling rides at Keansburg is the Cliffhanger, in which three guests at a time lay belly down on a swing and get sent air bound on the high speed swing. Chaos is a spinning disc that lifts to a 45-degree angle, with guests strapped into outward facing two-seater bucket seats. Double Shot is a tower ride that blasts guests 10 stories up into the air, and repeatedly drops them back down to earth. The Looping Star is the park’s newest attraction. The mid-sized roller coaster takes thrill-seeking guests on a 360 degree inverted loop.
Runaway Rapids is the park’s water park attraction. Over nineteen water slides and attractions include a Toddler’s Reef and Frog Slide for younger visitors, water soaked playscapes and gentle slides, as well as a rope swing. Soaring Thunder, Volcanic Revenge, and the Mega Bunga Falls offer larger, faster rides into the splash pool. Tube rides include the thrilling Mountain Blast and the slow floating Castaways Creek.
History: Keansburg Amusement Park was founded by William Gehlhaus in 1904. Gehlhaus was a baker with no experience in real estate investment, yet convinced five others to partner with him to purchase the Oceanside property with the intent to build a summer resort. The ambitious project required filling in the seaside marshland with sand from the bay, something that had never before been done. A boardwalk and bungalows were built, as well as a bank and water company. In 1910, Gehlhaus founded the Keansburg Steamboat Company to bring New Yorker’s to the park from across the bay. With a new market now open, the park added a dancehall, new attractions and a hotel. The borough of Keansburg was established in 1917, having grown entirely from Gehlhaus’ vision.
Gehlhaus sold the park in 1972 following concerns about his health. The family was devastated, but always remained closely involved in the park’s operations. In 1995, William Gehlhaus’ grandsons seized an opportunity to purchase the park and ushered in a new era. Under new ownership, the Runaway Rapids was quickly built, and opened just one year later in 1996. The park suffered severe damage from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, but rebuilt and re-opened in 2013. Pieces of the original rides from the 1930’s and 1950’s had been scattered as far away as neighboring towns, but all was recovered and painstakingly rebuilt. The Gehlhaus family looks forward to keeping the park in the family for many generations to come, with the youngest generation already eager to take the reins.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Among the park’s annual events are Mermaids at Runaway Rapids. Held on Sundays and Mondays throughout the summer, live mermaids swim at the park. Bark in the Waterpark is an annual fundraiser for the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Participants may bring their dog to the water park on the final weekend before the park closes for the season, all proceeds benefit the Monmouth County SPCA. The park celebrates its anniversary each August with discounts, giveaways and contests throughout the day.
275 Beachway Avenue, Keansburg, NJ 07734, Phone: 732-495-1400