How many people remember Pleasure Island of Wakefield, Mass.?

Post Card view, map showing how to get to Pleasure Island

I am excited to report that my friend Bob McLaughlin has authored an Images of America book on the legendary Pleasure Island, an early smaller version of a Disney-type theme park that operated under 4 different owners from 1959 to 1969 in Wakefield, Mass. The book is due out on the book stands in early June.

A new pennant commemorating the park (2002), Courtesy of the
Friends of Pleasure Island

Bob is the president of a small group of people (of which I am included) known as the Friends of Pleasure Island, a 501(c) nonprofit organization acting as an adhoc historical society. Since 2000, Bob with the help of many people has managed to collect a great amount of artifacts, items and memorabilia pertaining to the long-gone park including family snapshots and home movies. Also, the person who had the idea to build this unique theme park, the late Bill Hawkes (and his wife) have donated many items from their personal archives as well.

There were many reasons why Pleasure Island was short-lived, among them being the short spring, summer and fall operating seasons, mismanagement, etc. But for many people in the Boston area, just the mention of this place brings back a flood of memories! In fact I’m sure people who drive Interstate 95 south between Peabody, Mass. and Woburn, Mass. have seen the highway sign proclaiming “Pleasure Island Road exit 42 and wondered about it (see below).


Unfortunately, my family never went to Pleasure Island, possibly because it may have been cost-prohibitive for my parents with 5 children, I’m not sure. The closest we came was actually going a couple of times to “Cartland”, a go-cart track that was at one end of the large parking lot for the theme park. You could go to Cartland without paying the entrance fee to the park.

My other connection to the park was in around 1972, about 3 years after the park had closed. All the buildings were still there and I being a member of the Medford Auxiliary Fire Department at the time where we participated in a joint drill with the Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department at the defunct park. We partially burned one of the buildings to practice putting out fires!

In the late 1970’s I started collecting postcards of things that interested me and I came across a handfull of Pleasure Island post cards that were still on a local store’s rack. I have since collected about 15 of the 23 or 24 known to exist.

Post Card view, artist’s conception of Pleasure Island

Post Card view of Hawkes Point Lighthouse snack bar at
Pleasure Island

Post Card view of “Old Smokey”, the Narrow Gauge train that
operated at Pleasure Island

For more info on Pleasure Island check out this great website…