Hamburg, New Jersey: Gingerbread CastleAn old, castle-shaped kids attraction. Currently abandoned, but still perched on a hillside and recently repainted.
- 50 Gingerbread Castle Rd, Hamburg, NJ
- I-80 to Hwy 23. North to Hamburg. Hang a sharp left at the railroad overpass onto Gingerbread Castle Rd. The Castle is a short way on the left. Private property; visible from pull-off.
- Closed, but still visible. (Call to verify)
Visitor Tips and News About Gingerbread Castle
It's heartbreaking to see how badly this once imaginative and amazing building has deteriorated in only a few years! We visited about six years ago and it was in decent condition. Now the walls on one side are crumbling, huge blocks of stone are on the ground, strong vines are ripping paint and plaster from Humpty Dumpty and the entire castle. One owl has been gutted of its insides, the doors are off and laying around to decay. Weeds and destructive brush have covered almost every inch of ground. Even the dinosaur across the street has been vandalized.
I can't imagine it being renovated unless someone takes drastic steps immediately. Whomever owns it has left it to self destruct, and it is.[Diane Plumley, 06/20/2013]
The Gingerbread Castle is a former children's amusement park in Hamburg, New Jersey. It was also part of the Wheatsworth Mills, which, I believe, was once a part of Nabisco.[Donna Wymore, 04/15/2013]
The Castle was a fairy tale attraction from around 1930 to 1980, then sporadically open for tours and events for a few decades. Local supporters have protected the abandoned property from the wrecking ball ever since, in the hope that the Castle can some day be reopened.
I stopped by what's left of the Gingerbread Castle last summer and it definitely wasn't open, but I found out some info from the Hamburg Historical Society to incorporate into an article for the Society of Commercial Archaeology (SCA). Not sure where things stand now, but here's a brief update as of last fall:
After operating as a children's fairy tale theme park for nearly 50 years, Gingerbread Castle finally closed in the late 1970s. It reopened for a few years as a haunted Halloween venue before a fire closed it permanently in 1993 [RA: It was still running a seasonal haunted attraction on the property in 1997]. Attempts to restore the castle as a children's theme park hadn't gotten far. NJ resident Frank Hinger and his wife Lou purchased the property in 2003 with plans to revitalize it, even securing a grant from Hampton Hotel's Save-a-Landmark program in 2004, which was used to repaint the castle exterior. But raising additional funds proved difficult. After unsuccessfully offering the castle on eBay, it was auctioned off by sheriff's sale in January 2007 for approximately $680,000.
As of fall 2008, local real estate developers Gene Mulvihill and Pat Barton were the Gingerbread Castle's current owners. Mulvihill, who owns the neighboring former Plastoid building and a share in nearby Ballyowen, the state's highest-rated public golf course, seemed interested in preserving the castle. In a January 2007 article in the New Jersey Herald, Mulvihill states, "It's in (Hamburg's) blood. We're not going to rip the place down, that's not going to happen. Not going to happen."[Laura K., 08/17/2009]
I visited Gingerbread Castle as a child in Hamburg, NJ. I remember the horse with the knight, witches at the top of the castle, and Humpty Dumpty. We revisited several years ago, and wish that all children could have had the neat experience that my brother and I had as small children.[Kathie Greene, 08/23/2008]
According to a news article in the paper for that area, the castle was first on EBay for $649,000 and did not sell. What a summer house that could have been! A local developer bought it about a year and a half ago and promised to restore it.
As a child I had gone several times with family, plus on a class trip in the first grade. Small children are not raised on those nursery rhyme characters any longer as prior generations were, so they don't connect as we did. I think with any sort of restoration promise fulfilled, small kids today would still find it exciting, not to mention the parents.[Bill Woodier, 07/24/2008]