WILDWOOD — The only differences visitors will see in the Wildwoods this summer following Hurricane Sandy will be a variety of new attractions, business leaders said during a tour of the island Friday.
A new sushi restaurant, beach bar and art installation at Morey’s Piers, a $2 million wave simulator at Splash Zone and new businesses such as Johnson’s Popcorn were highlights of the event organized by the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority.
The purpose of the tour was to show that the southern shore resort has not only long since recovered from the storm, but that summer will offer more things for visitors to do than ever.
John Siciliano, executive director and chief financial officer of the Wildwoods Convention Center, has been saying that for months, but he said people would not believe him unless they saw for themselves.
“We weren’t any worse off than after a regular storm,” added Jodie DiEduardo, senior vice president of Crest Savings Bank, who also acted as a guide on the tour.
The event started at the Convention Center and made stops at the Centennial Park Amphitheatre, Wildwoods Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Doo Wop Experience Museum and the Boardwalk, with reporters and officials taking both a trolley and a tram car along the way.
At Splash Zone, marketing manager Michele Mendelson said the park had little to no storm damage, and instead their staff spent the offseason painting, installing new equipment and setting up a new attraction called the Flow House.
“Fortunately, we didn’t get the brunt of it,” Mendelson said of the storm. “We were very lucky.”
That new attraction, taking the place of beach volleyball courts and tiki huts, will include a wave simulator, tables for food service and retail shops. It is the largest single investment at the park since it opened in 2000.
Just across the Boardwalk, Jack Morey unveiled a slew of new plans at his organization’s piers, including complete renovations to the Zoom Phloom log flume and the Boat Tag game, the addition of a beach bar at the end of Surfside Pier and the creation of a high-profile art installation at Adventure Pier.
The latter, which Morey called his favorite project, will incorporate a sushi restaurant, wine tastings from Cape May Winery, work by local artists and one piece designed by a secret celebrity artist that will be revealed July 4 Weekend.
The area is being called “artBOX,” and it is being built out of repainted and repurposed metal shipping containers that are already visible being put into place.
“If this is a place where kids are pulling adults to,” Morey said of the piers’ rides, “that might be a place where adults are pulling kids to.”
“Hopefully, the pulling on either side isn’t too hard,” he added.
Other new additions to the island this summer include new restaurants such as Establishment at 100 in North Wildwood, Sofia’s Italian Restaurant at the site of the former Gia restaurant in Wildwood, and A Brick Oven Pizza restaurant at the site of the former Casba Comedy club in Wildwood.
Johnson’s Popcorn, an iconic caramel popcorn maker based in Ocean City, will open a new location on the Boardwalk in Wildwood between 26th and Poplar avenues.
Most of these new attractions are set to open in June or earlier.
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