Fantasy Island Campground is unique, in
that it once was an amusement park with a
rich history.  Known as "Island Park," it
became a hot spot for summer, family
outings.  

Parks originated along the railroads, as a
way to bring in more passenger travel for
the railways, during the weekends and
summer months.  (Typically the slowest
times for the railroad companies who were
mostly used by the townsfolk traveling to
and from work.)  So, with the construction
of the railway between Sunbury and
Northumberland, it was only natural that a
park would be promoted along the way.

The island, known as "Packer Island," was
owned by Sunbury millionaire James C.
Packer.  On the banks of the island, facing
Northumberland, stood a stand of tall oak
and elm trees.  Around 1900 this land was
leased from Packer, to create "Island
Park."  The park began with very few
amusements other than picnic facilities.
Vaudeville shows and motion picture
shows were then added and became a
large crowd draw.
Picture of Island Park circa 1910's.  
Around 1920 the entire island was sold to proprietors, Guyer and Pontius.  In 1923 Steila M. Wiest of Shamokin bought the land that housed Island Park, 18 acres in
total, for an amusement park.  "Wiest Amusement Co." was formed with Charles H. Wiest, Treasurer and Alvan M. Wiest, Secretary.  With a $150,000 plan outlined for
amusements and buildings, they began developing "Island Park Amusement Park."  In 1925, a dance pavilion, designed by Alvan, was erected.  It measured 92' by
192' with a dance area of 60' by 160' in the center of a roller skating area, which surrounded the outside of the dance area. A restaurant was also built into the dance
pavilion.  Some of the nations biggest names in entertainment, including Paul Whiteman (referred to as "The King of Jazz"), Fred Waring, and Joe Nesbit filled
engagements there.  Later years seen well known names such as Chubby Checker, The Beach Boys, and Dick Clark grace the stage.  During the flapper era,
marathon dances were also staged here.  The pavilion was a popular place for many events.  In 1928, 1929, and 1930, it was rented to the Auto Dealers of Sunbury
for auto shows.
After the completion of the dance pavilion, the swimming pool was built.  This
was also designed by Alvan Wiest.  The pool measured 80' by 300' and 10'
deep at it's deepest end.  Section one, for small children, was 20' by 80' and
only 1 foot deep.  Section 2 was 80' by 130' and 2' to 5' deep.  Section 3 was
80' by 150' and was 5' to 10' deep.  The pool held a total capacity of 737,000
gallons of water.  While the pool was being built, a roller coaster was also
being constructed.  It was designed by the famous Herbert P. Schmeck and
built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.  It ran from the front of the
park to the rear of the bathhouse by the pool.  After 2 years of construction,
the "Island Flyer" was officially opened in 1926.  However, it survived for only
10 years following a devastating flood in March of 1936.

In the front of the park was a miniature golf course and Skooter's (bumper
cars) building.  A carousel was housed between the Administration building
and the swimming pool. (The carousel building still stands and is what we
currently use as our rec-room.  It is a very unique feature of our park.)  The
carousel was built by the world famous Dentzel Company of Philadelphia, who
were the manufacturer's of "better first class carousels in America."  The
carousel measured 50 feet in diameter, with 3 rows of animals, 50 in total,
plus 2 chariots.
Postcard circa 1907 showing the picnic area and small dancing pavilion.
The park remained in operation by Charles and Alvan
for approximately ten years, until the Wiest Amusement
Co. was dissolved.  However, it remained a hustling and
bustling local park throughout the coming years.  Many
visitors came from the surrounding area to skate on the
largest skating rink in the area, swim in the Olympic
sized swimming pool, or to see the big name
entertainment perform.  In the 1950's, advertisements
placed in "Billboard" magazine claimed the park
boasted "6 rides, 15 concession games, skating rink,
pool, penny arcade, and free attractions."  

Unfortunately, in 1972 Hurricane Agnes swept through
the area, causing historic flooding.  Much of the park
was destroyed.  The carousel horses were sold off, with
a majority going to "King's Amusements" in Myrtle
Beach, SC.  They're believed to have been destroyed
by, yet again, another hurricane later on. The relic of
the park, the dance pavilion, sustained excessive
damage and had to be torn down.  A newspaper article
referred to the demolition of the popular dance hall, as
"an end of an era."  

The land was developed into a campground in the late
70's.  Thus, "Fantasy Island Campground" was born.
Undated picture of the large dance pavilion and skating rink at Island Park.
A postcard showing the inside of the dance pavilion at the park.
Postcard circa late 20's or early 30's of the large swimming pool at the park.
Picture of the "Island Flyer" built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co.
1928 Car Show inside the dance hall.
1930 Car Show inside the dance hall.
Pool Construction
Entrance to the park.
Skooters (Bumper Cars) Building
Concessions and Gaming Stands in the park.
Administration Building
Roller Coaster Construction. You can see part of the carousel to the right.
© Fantasy Island Campground 2017 - All Rights Reserved