Funland in Rehoboth Beach is 57 Years Old and Still Creating Treasured Memories for Generations of Families
There are countless people, places and things that make Delaware’s coastal region a great choice when it comes to buying a home and raising a family.
With 26 miles of pristine Atlantic shoreline, some of the lowest taxes you’ll find anywhere in the United States, a moderate climate, an eclectic local restaurant scene and a jam packed events and festivals calendar, the Delaware beaches have become an increasingly popular home base over the years.
But what we want to talk about today is a Rehoboth Beach gem that’s become a tradition for many families either living in the area or visiting during the summer months. And that’s the fabulous family-owned treasure that is Funland on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk.
Opened in 1962 (we’ll get into the significance of that year later), Funland has always been owned and operated by the Fasnacht family. That’s a big reason why prices have remained affordable to pretty much anyone visiting the Boardwalk destination during the warm weather months.
They like to say they’re committed to creating fun, family experiences rather than worrying constantly about the almighty dollar. And while there are financial concerns with any business, Funland included, for the most part they’ve been able to remain true to that initial vision for the amusement park.
Funland opens every year the day before Mother’s Day (read about the 2019 opening here) and generally welcomes between 250,000 and 350,000 guests every season, which runs until the week after Labor Day in September.
Many guests are local, including several of us here at the Oldfather Group, but a good percentage of the people visiting Funland every summer come from what are known as “feeder regions” for the Delaware beaches. These are places like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and other areas that are within a two or three hour drive of the beach.
But as great as Funland is today, creating lasting memories for generations of residents and guests over the years, the whole thing was very nearly derailed before it even began.
We said we would come back to the significance of the year Funland was created, and we’ll do that now. For local residents, especially ones who were around at the time, just mentioning 1962 often brings back memories that are anything but pleasant.
It was the year of the “big storm,” which has become known by many names over the years, the most popular being the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962. The powerful nor-easter ran up the east coast and was held in place over coastal Delaware for three consecutive days by a high pressure system from Canada.
The storm is one the most powerful to ever hit the region, and certainly among the most devastating. It claimed many buildings and did extensive damage to the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, including to what was then Sport Center and was soon to become Funland. The storm came just a few days before the property was to officially change hands, and very nearly derailed the entire project.
The price the Fasnachts paid for Sport Center was $175,000, which included seven lots on Surf Avenue, Delaware Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue. But due to the effects of the storm, the owners of Sport Center offered to void the deal. The Fasnachts, however, thought better of it.
Compared to the rest of the Boardwalk, the damage at Sport Center wasn’t nearly as bad, though the main building did sink nearly two feet, another section washed away completely and there were bumper cars that became buried in sand on the beach. The carousel, pictured below, was also left exposed to the elements, which actually took until the following year to repair.