New attractions, not signs of damage, await Wildwood visitors
The Wildwoods' location - far from where Hurricane Sandy made landfall - and the island's famously enormous beaches helped it endure the storm with relatively little damage.
Some of those properties directly on the water, such as the Coconut Cove beach bar and entertainment complex in North Wildwood, did have problems, although nothing irreparable.
"We had our fair share of flooding and water damage," said Manager Ryan Hart. "From what was described to me, we lost a lot of our smaller structures, or they were just shifted."
A dock also was lost, and much of the sand in the bayside, open-air restaurant and club area washed away.
But getting everything back for the summer was never a concern. The docks were rebuilt, the water damage mitigated and the sand-filled walkways replenished. The huge facility recently held a job fair and reopens this month, Just as it would have if the storm never hit.
"I think a lot of people are afraid and unsure if the Jersey Shore is up and running," said Hart, "but I think people knew Wildwood was OK."
Indeed, the only significant differences visitors should see are all the new projects and development along the island.
Morey's Piers will open a new art installation and restaurant at its Adventure Pier and a beach bar at its Surfside Pier. Splash Zone Water Park is adding a new entertainment complex with a permanent wave ride called Flow House surrounded by food service and retail shops. The Hotel Icona, a new luxury hotel in Diamond Beach, is set to open, along with a number of new restaurants islandwide.
On Juniper Street and the Boardwalk in Wildwood, Johnson's Popcorn, a landmark Ocean City business for more than 70 years, is opening a new location.
Becky Juzwiak, vice president of operations for the company, said the company made the decision to open its first location outside Ocean City in the aftermath of Sandy. When company leaders visited Wildwood in January to scope out a location, there was little evidence a storm had been there at all.
"I didn't really see any remnants of the storm down here," Juzwiak said. "The Boardwalk looks great. It really does, and there's people down there every weekend. They really got right on it."