Monday, April 25, 2016

Author Robert McLaughlin, Wakefield's Pleasure Island, and a new book

Robert McLaughlin is the author of two enjoyable books about a subject I have great affection for:  the theme park Pleasure Island, which was located in Wakefield, Mass. (1959-1969), not far from Boston.  To many New Englanders, Pleasure Island is legendary.

One of Mr. McLaughlin's books--titled, simply, Pleasure Island--was brought out in 2009, as part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series; its pictures (nearly 200) are in black and white. His follow-up book--Pleasure Island: 1959-1969--was published in 2014, for Arcadia's "Images of Modern America" series, and features 160 images, most of them in color.  (I wrote about Arcadia, and another of its authors, Boston historian Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, in a recent post.)

One of the best-known attractions at Pleasure Island--something I experienced, in childhood--concerned Moby Dick.  One rode in an open boat, and I recall, vaguely (and perhaps inaccurately; I was five or six years old), seeing a cove, of sorts, in the distance.  Soon, an immense Moby Dick facsimile rose from beneath the water. The experience terrified me; I've told people about it for years. (And spoke with Mr. McLaughlin about it; he appeared, twice, on an online talk show I hosted for a few years, until 2014.)

Moby Dick, from Pleasure Island: 1959-1969 (Arcadia Publishing, 2014)

In addition to researching and writing about Pleasure Island, Mr. McLaughlin--who lives in Wakefield, the town where Pleasure Island was located--is the President of the group "Friends of Pleasure Island," and gives periodic walking tours of the former site. (Please see:

Mr. McLaughlin has also written about Freedomland, the 1960s theme park in the Bronx, for Arcadia, and  his latest Arcadia title, about the Golden, Colorado theme park Magic Mountain, is being published today (April 25th). (All three of the venues he has written about--Pleasure Island, Freedomland, and Magic Mountain--were designed by the same firm, Marco Engineering, of Los Angeles.) 

Here are links to his Pleasure Island books:

(Please note:  the paperback edition, included in the above amazon link, is of Mr. McLaughlin's 2009 book; the Kindle version, part of the same link, is for the 2014 book.)

Here is a link to the paperback version of the 2014 book, from the Barnes & Noble website:

Lastly, this is the amazon link to Mr. McLaughlin's book about Colorado's Magic Mountain, released today: