a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

April 2021 was the 20th anniversary of the start-up of the Friends of Pleasure Island - where did the time go? Sadly, we have no plans for another walking tour until things calm down. We will post any updates here - stay tuned!

In the meantime, enjoy the following YouTube videos which were recently released:

Top 10 SCARIEST Underwater Animatronics - Submechanophobia

Pleasure Island RR #5

If anyone has any questions, comments or would just like to chat about the park, feel free to contact me at (781) 258-8227 or email Bob@friendsofpleasureisland.org

This is our gang from our last walking tour on June 2nd, 2019.

This is our gang from our walking tour on May 20th, 2018.

Photos from our walking tour on October 9th, 2016 show that we really do our tours rain or shine. Bob McLaughlin is talking to his walking classroom about Mr. Moby's ramp. This was an excellent tour because of the massive drought last year. The former park's inner and outer water harbor levels were pretty low.

This photo is from one of our shine tours:

New book "Magic Mountain" released April 25, 2016

Bob McLaughlin first visited Golden, Colorado in 2007. Ten trips later, his book on the very first theme park after DisneyLand is finally coming out. Sadly, the Magic Mountain buildings which were recycled into Heritage Square in 1971 are coming down this spring. This is the end of an era which started in 1957 when Marco designed it's first park only to go onto Pleasure Island, Freedomland, and the start-up of Six Flags in Arlington, Texas; to our beloved buildings in Golden - R.I.P.

Below please find a list of Magic Mountain publicity releases:

April 13, 2016: Book review by Didier Ghez

April 25, 2016: Book review by Andrew Lee Fielding - The Lucky Strike Papers

May 5, 2016: Wakefield Item article by Mark Sardella

May 10, 2016: Golden Transcript article by Christy Steadman

May 26, 2016: Podcast with Tim Callaway (34 minutes)

Also, if you are interested, please check out the Mouse Castle's interview with Disney historian Todd Pierce

March 26, 2016: Video, GoodBye Heritage Square, It's Been Fun (Goodbye to the Square)
This video was produced by Red Rocks Church, a former tenant of the Heritage Square property from 2005-2016. The church was not a friend to Heritage Square. In fact, they called it "a creepy old amusement park." This video shows the park just prior to demolition by current owner of the property Martin Marietta Aggregates and Heavy Building Materials.

I am currently researching material for my next book, "Heritage Square." If anyone has any photos, particularly of Heritage Square in the early 1970's, construction of the second-generation buildings, and/or the Alpine Slide, please feel free to let me know. Also of interest to me would be any photos of the incredible number of shops, inside and out, weddings, the amusement park area, events, and/or any other interesting photos up until 2015. With your permission, your photos could be scanned with credits to you and may be included in a new book documenting Heritage Square's 45 seasons from 1971-2015. All of my contact information is on this website's home page. Thank you, Bob

This is a great photograph featuring some of the only buildings being torn down, that were designed by Marco Engineering - designers of Magic Mountain, Pleasure Island and Freedomland.

In addition to "Magic Mountain", Bob McLaughlin is currently writing a book about Heritage Square which operated at the Magic Mountain site until November 1, 2015.

Starting in 2008 Bob McLaughlin started writing books about the Marco parks, which were built shortly after DisneyLand. The following is a snapshot of his first four books:

Freedomland 1960-1964

Robert McLaughlin is pleased to announce his 4th book was released by Arcadia Publishing on
March 2nd, 2015. This title is all color and offers lots of new and great photographs and information about the fabulous history of Freedomland, a sister park of Pleasure Island that was located in the Bronx.

For more information, go to:

Freedomland will be available at:
* Arcadia Publishing (888-313-2665) or arcadiapublishing.com
* Online book sellers
* At book sellers throughout the New York City area (to be announced)

Friends of Pleasure Island President Robert McLaughlin is pleased to announce his book Pleasure Island 1959-1969 was released on June 30, 2014 - featuring color images!

This is the first book being released in New England by Arcadia Publishing, for their new series launched early this year titled "Images of Modern America".

For more information on Pleasure Island 1959-1969 and this exciting new series please go to:

Pleasure Island 1959-1969 is available from Arcadia Publishing (arcadiapublishing.com), online book sellers, and book stores such as:

  • The Paper Store
  • Barnes and Noble
  • L R Hart Hardware - Wakefield, MA
  • Walgreens - Stoneham, MA
  • Spartan Paint & Supply, Inc. - Stoneham, MA
  • Book Oasis - Stoneham, MA
  • Walgreens - Woburn, MA
  • Book Ends - Winchester, MA
  • Smith Drug - Wakefield, MA

    Please check Bob McLaughlin's interview about Freedomland that aired on June 18th 2011. Go to Interview

    Just one year after Wakefield's Pleasure Island opened, a brand new and bigger "Disneyland of the East" opened in the Bronx named Freedomland U.S.A. Built on a 205 acre site, Freedomland opened on June 19th, 1960 to 63,000 park guests. To celebrate Freedomland's 50th anniversary, a book with over 200 photos was released by Arcadia Publishing on May 31, 2010.

    Author Bio:
    Robert McLaughlin has an avid interest in theme park history. Freedomland is his second book to be published in just one year about the "Disneylands of the East." McLaughlin's extensive research of Freedomland, along with archives from the Pleasure Island Hawkes' Collection, made this book possible.

    In addition, he had numerous interviews with former performers, made several trips throughout New England and New York for contemporary photographs, and selected the images from the Adamo Collection that were taken by in house photographers during the construction and early seasons of Freedomland. As principle author, Freedomland was completely written by Robert McLaughlin.

    Freedomland is available at:
    • Arcadia Publishing (888-313-2665) or www.arcadiapublishing.com
    • Online Book sites
    • At book sellers throughout the New York City area.

    Pleasure Island was officially released by Arcadia Publishing on June 8, 2009.

    Book Description:
    Billed as Boston's answer to Disneyland, Pleasure Island opened on June 22, 1959. William Hawkes, President of Childlife Magazine, and executives at Cabot, Cabot and Forbes collaborated with Marco Engineering of Los Angeles to build what was called the "Disneyland of the East." Pleasure Island rose from the wetlands off of Route 128 and into an 80-acre theme park. Through photographs, Pleasure Island recalls memories of boat rides to Pirate Cove, searching for the great white whale, driving a Jenney car, getting dizzy in the Slanty Shanty, and taking a ride on Old Smoky. At Pleasure Island, children and children at heart entered into a world that traditional amusement parks could not provide, where character actors continually put on a show and the entire park was the stage.

    Author Bio:
    Robert McLaughlin is a Wakefield resident with an interest in local history. He has been researching Pleasure Island since 2000 and is cofounder of the Friends of Pleasure Island, which was established to collect images, film, oral history, and artifacts relating to the park. He has selected images from private collections and the Friends of Pleasure Island's archives to tell the story of Wakefield's own "Disneyland of the East".

    Pleasure Island is now available at the following locations:
    • Hart's Ace Hardware - Wakefield, MA
    • Smith Drug - Wakefield, MA
    • Walgreens - Stoneham, MA
    • The Paper Stores
    • Barnes and Noble
    • Online book sites
    • Arcardia publishing (888-313-2665) or www.arcadiapublishing.com
    The Friends of Pleasure Island would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their outstanding help in celebrating Pleasure Island's 50th anniversary during 2009.
    • Beebe Memorial Library for display space during the summer months for Pleasure Island memorabilia.
    • The Wakefield Daily Item for the great coverage of events and posting historic photos throughout the year.
    • Mark Sardella- Item Coverage
    • Jason Allocco- Website Updates
    • Jamie Allocco- Website Updates
    • Carolyn Livingston- Power Point Program
    • The Sweetser Lecture Committee for hosting our History of Pleasure Island lecture.
    • A special thanks to the late Rex Trailer, along with the Pleasure Island characters Herb Suave, Bob Harmon, Sid Hudson, and Priscilla DiDonato Hendrik, who made the 50th anniversary party on June 18, 2009 at the Wakefield Galvin Middle School such a hit.
    • State Senator Richard Tisei for an official citation from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Senate to the Friends of Pleasure Island in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the opening of Pleasure Island on June 22, 1959.
    • The friends are indebted to the late Bill and Jean Hawkes for their generous donation of archives and photographs which started the Friends collection.

    Thanks to the following media outlets for all their support
    • Jordan Rich- WBZ
    • The Loren and Wally Show- WROR
    • Karen Blake- WODS
    • Charlie Sherman- WGIR Manchester, New Hampshire
    • The Boston Globe North Weekly feature story by Robert G. Pushkar for Pleasure Island's 50th anniversary
    • Ron Cox- Malden Cable TV (MATV)
    • Bob MacPhail- Thank you for your donation of replica Pleasure Island signage. Bob is now the official Pleasure Island sign painter.
    • Todd Pierce, whose research on Disneyland and Marco's three parks, Magic Mountain, Pleasure Island, and Freedomland has gained the president of the Friends of Pleasure Island Bob McLaughlin not only a lot of valuable information but a great friend. Good luck on your upcoming book.
    • To everybody who attended our walking tours throughout the last 12 years. John (Toz) Toczydlowski and Steve O'Keefe are a big help on our tours - Thank you.

    Thanks to Priscilla DiDonato Hendrik and Ray DiPirro, Friends of Pleasure Island Board Members, also to Larry Cultrera for all your support over the past 14 years. Thanks to all the hosts for "Pleasure Island" book signings.

    Thank you to everyone who has donated photos or pieces of Pleasure Island, especially to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hurford for their recent donation of Diamond Lil's (Charmaine Harma) dress from 1959.

    Lastly Bob McLaughlin would like to thank his wife, Terry , his children and granddaughter, Danielle Resha, for helping to make this the best 50th birthday party ever.

    Thank you,
    Bob McLaughlin
    Friends of Pleasure Island

    Do you remember Pleasure Island? If so, contact us with any memorabilia/photos/slides/stories you are willing to share with us.

    Please Contact:
    Bob McLaughlin
    376 Water Street
    Wakefield, MA 01880


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