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MADE IN SUSSEX

Home-grown fun along The Boardwalk

Funland: Iconic place for memories
Young riders take scream with joy on the Free Fall, one of the thrill rides in the Funland complex. BY RON MACARTHUR
September 1, 2013

Another season of fun is nearing an end; Funland in Rehoboth Beach shuts down its 51st season on Sunday, Sept. 9.

The history of Funland is well documented. The family business dates back to the spring of 1962, which also happens to be another time of historic significance in the resort area – The Storm of '62. In fact, the Fasnacht's purchase of the Funland property and the timing of the horrific March storm coincided; they were just about a week apart.

Brothers Al and Don Fasnacht already owned a small park near Harrisburg, Pa., and were vacationing at the Delaware beaches. They stopped into the Sport Center, which the Dentino family had owned since the 1930s. It wasn't long before talk of selling the property surfaced.

Over the years, the family expanded the park, adding rides and games, and buying adjoining properties. Between the two brothers, there are now five children and four grandchildren who are directly involved with the business.

Today, more than two dozen members of the Fasnacht, Henschke, Curry, Ginder and Darr families are involved in the operation of Funland. Each summer, Funland hires more than 100 high school and college students, including about 30 foreign workers.

What hasn't changed over the years is the family's commitment to safe, inexpensive family fun. Tickets cost 35 cents, a mere 25-cent increase from five decades ago. The well-known green tickets are also good for life.

Ian Curry, director of operations, said it's important that children leave with a smile on their face, wanting to come back. "When someone wins a prize, we make a big deal out of it," he said.

"Funland still offers old-fashioned fun at affordable prices," he added.

The park features 19 rides for all ages and such iconic games as Skee Ball and Whack-A-Mole. People travel from near and far to ride in the Haunted Mansion. Some of the most popular rides – including the boats and fire engines – date back to the start of Funland.

Funland was closed Aug. 20 for family members and staff to attend a celebration of life for matriarch Jean Fasnacht in Hershey, Pa., who passed away Aug. 11. "We were all reminded just how much a part of Rehoboth Beach Funland is," Curry said.

For more information, go to www.funlandrehoboth.com.