Trip Report: Coney Island
July 1, 2001
"I suppose I will quit referring to Coney Island in the past tense"
Those of you who know me, know I have a great affection with Ohio Grove: Coney Island of the West, now simply Coney Island, not affiliated and not to be compared with its seedy namesake in Brooklyn. Up till now I most often reffered to Coney Island as "The Greatest Amusement Park I Never Got To Visit" I was born in 1972, and Coney closed in 1971. However I heard lots of great memories from friends and family, and the very room I am sitting and typing this trip report is full of Coney Island pictures from its first Golden Age. (User pauses to look up and reflect on what once was) However, like the song "What might have been" We can't go back again.
Today, I decided to spend the day at Coney Island, not as a minor stop between SFKK and PKI, but as my all day park of the day. This trip was also to be different than most as instead of Eric or Rideman, I decided to visit the park with my family, all of whom remember the bygone era to which I reffered. On the way to the park we hit a breakfast buffet which would have made Chuck Lunch proud, then decided to go to Coney along Kellog Ave. Shortly after noon we were pulling under the electronic sign, then through the historic front gates. You may recall photos of the great front gates of such places as Euclid Beach, well Coney Island still has its ornate front gate. Here we paid $4 for parking, but nothing for admission, as grounds admission is free, we found a parking space, and headed to the midway, where I realized I must be in a time warp as I walked up to the ride ticket booth and discovered that Ride All Day wristbands were only $8! I first took a walking tour of the park with the family, found them a nice show to go watch, then hit the rides.
My first stop was the Tempest, this ride is clearly a transplant from Americana (*sniff*) as it has several things in common, paint scheme, the handpainted safety instructions, and seatbelts that in some seats are too darn short. After being loaded, I realized that I was in for a solo ride on the Tempest. I don't know about tub balancing and what-not but I was off on a spin-0-mania ride. After the Tempest I noticed the unique "Rain Rooms' the park has set up, sort of like tents with misters in them. Unique and thoughtful.
It was at this time that I skipped the Scrambler and headed for the Tilt-A-Whirl. On the way to the Tilt, I spotted a Carousel, hey is this also a new ride, I don't remember one of these being here. Its nothing like the famous Coney Carousel which can now be ridden at PKI, its more of a stock carnival piece, but hey every park has to have a carousel right? And I was soon to learn that Coney Island now has TWO carousels! In addition to the full size model I just mentioned they also have one of those quarter operated grocery store carousels. Speaking of carousels I spotted in the Lakeside Pavilion a historical exhibit of sorts, and in it was a little display about the Carousel, the one that used to be there. It also had a little historical tale, Carousel Buffs can correct me where I goof this up, but Carousel's were not originally amusement devices. No they were originally a medieval training decvice for nights. The brass ring also figures into this. Apprarently they would hitch a bunch of horses up to a c0ontraption so that they would walk at varying speeds in a circle, all the while the Knight-Trainees were attepting to catch the brass ring on the end of their lances. The sign goes on to mule and slave carousels which were used for more domestic purposes like generating primitive forms of power, See you get a ride and a history lesson all at the same time.
I skipped the Spin-A-Ree, for one I question my ability to climb into or out of the tubs, and I question the tubs ability to accomdate me. But on to the Tilt-A-Whirl, where one group was going for the consecutive ride record. I merely took one ride, but while waiting I overheard the operator say the secret to the Tile a Whirl is to put as much weight as possible in a tub. The family all squished into a tub, with no less than 6 people cramming into a tub. I was content to take a whole tub to myself. I sat in the dead center of the seat, and placed my legs straight out under the lapbar. Guess who spun more? Thank you to the Ghost Town in the Sky operator who really knew the secret to the Tilt.
And look over there a Dodgems ride has been added since my last visit. I lined up for the Dogems that were transplanted from Maple Leaf Village, it even has some ols MLV signage on it. I sat down in a car, and proceeded to figure out which way I would wear my seatbelt, as I acertained that ignoring it was not an option. I opted for loosely draping it over one shoulder, which by the middle of the ride meant it was loosely draped over my elbow and sliding down towards my wrist, whcih meant that I may as well have not been wearing it, but I was obeying the letter of the law. My windpipe enjoyed the ride, and I enjoyed the ride, as these Dodgems actually have some nice ride action to them, as in you can actually feel that you are getting bumped, what a novel concept :)
Next to the Dodgems is a new-for-2001 Giant Slide. While this was rumored to be the slide from Americna (*sniff*) I must reply that it is not, this is your standard carnival Giant Slide, ya know, the kind that usually has "FUN SLIDE" on top of it in big colorful blovk letters. Three lanes accross. While I was easily triple the age on anybody else riding the Giant Slide, dag nab it, I want to go down the Giant Slide, and so I did, and I encountered some nice airtime on the way down. The Giant Slide was one ride that I did not acertain the price of, but I guess when I have this Tyvek band with lime green stars printed on it, sort of makes ride prices a moot point. Speaking of the Tyvek band I also notice that they are narrower than the older ones. My wrist says thanks to national ticket.
So I round the next corner, and pull its time for the rollercoaster, I head for the wooden Flying Turns ride that is right in fromt of me then realized "that isn't a Flying Turns", but its an awfully fun waterslide, as I can personally atest to from prior visits. I instead decide to ride the Pepsi Python, a Zyklon (?) and it may be the closest thing to an Italian coaster that I may get to ride this year, despite being in Ravenna, Italy later this year. (A stop at that amusement park has already been denied, and I have been advised the park is most likely gonna be closed for the season anyhow, however I do plan on getting some Gelati and comparing to the Gelati I had at PKI) And wow no wait for the Pepsi Python, I approach the station videocamera in hand an after a polite conversation, the videocamera went back into its bag, where it stayed during my Pepsi Python Rides. Besides how can I videotape, when the rule is "Guests MUST use grab bars" And the train does not leave the station till every rider is white knucking the grab bars. Ya know Rideman is right about thast nasty pull out from the firt drop, I don't get a gut wrench from SOB, or S:RoS, but this little 40' Zyklon does a number on my stomach, the rest of the ride is herky jerky and fun but not exactly thrilling. I rerode aq few times, and once found myself as the only passenger on the Blue Train, with the Pink train running empty. I can also report that there are two brakes on that ride that are not being used, btu I can report also that the brakes both before and after the final dip are on HARD. I noticed the trains get moved from the brake run, to unload, to load by having the operators push them More subtely I noticed the lapbar release mechanisms had a litle wheel on the bottom as if perhaps they were intended to be used by something as fancy as an electronic lapbar release or as simple as raising the floor of the platfrom up so that it would push the lever up. Today they wrere released by having the operator kick the levers. Speaking of the lapbars, these lapbars fall into the "Cross your ankles, suck in your gut and help shove to get them to lock" category, but then my physical dimensions might have somethig to do with that. :)
Adter a few spins, it was time for the Flying Bobs, which is one of two rides that Coney has a weird operational policy on. At most parks and fairs, Himalayah type rides and Trabants generally go forwards and backwards during the same ride cycle. Not at Coney, at Coney the ride goes all forwards one ride, and all backwards the next. Strange, is also means that you have to ride twice to get the full effect of the ride. Thank you Tyvek band with lime green stars.. I really like the Flying Bobs, and it helped me to acertain that as long as the ride is going forwardds the seatbelt and lapbar are really unneded. Further down the midway it was time for the Trabant, and again this was a two rides were needed for the full effect type ride. So far so great, then I got into the Super Round Up. As I boarded Ia sked "Whats so Super about it" I think I got my answer. The ride behaved like a normal round up on the way up, then it started spinning at a mercilessly high speed, for a long time. No problem I'll just use the Rideman Round Up Riding Posture (tm) of benindg ones legs sure you slide a bit down the wall, but it doesn't hurt so bad. I also realized that the sun was in the wrong spot, so I closed my eyes. I'm not sure, but I think this must be what the inside of a clothes dryer must be like. Bring on the Force 10, I'm ready for high-G's now. As the ride lowered I found that I actually had to sort of walk bac up the wa to a full standing position, wierd. I stumbled down the exit ramp, and went in search of a snack. Will someone please remind me that Coney's food service is pretty awful. I mean the prices are marginally better than PKI, whith a 24oz. Pepsi being $2.01 (why $2.01? can't we just make it $2.00???), but the fnnel cake was hard and stale, the Soft Pretzel was stale, and at that time I decided that maybe McDonalds was souding like a better food option. (Those who know me know I DESPISE McDonalds) Disgusted at the snack bar, I decided to llok at the games. Mostly the ususl fare, but one game caught my attention, it didn't catch my wallet but it caught my attention.
<Warning: This may date me)
Do you remember playing the game "Operation" as a chld, you know you drew a card and you had to perform a specified surgery on the body pictured on the game board. The catch, you used a metal forceps that was attached to the game by a wire. The openings to operate on were lined with metal. Touch the two together and "BUZZZZZZZ" Well take tha gameboard and enlarge it to the size of one of those Hercules pinbal machines, and insteall a heavy duty forceps on a cable. Interesting thing to note that game board looks exactly the same, and the plastic pieces to be extracted look exactly the same. The game: Coney General, your mission should you spent $1 to accept it, is to perform any 6 surgerieds of your choosing, you are allowed one case of malpractice. A second BUZZ and you are fired from your role as guest surgeon at Coney General and don't get a lovely parting gift from Vanna.
It wa at this point that I took more spins on the rides, and witnessed a fully loaded Temepst ride, It was getting to be after 4, and I note that the after 4 special seems to be doing a good job at bringing folks in. I then hit the gift shop, askied the dippin dots machine what was coming next year, all it said was :"Insert $3.00", and looked at the historical exhbiit again. Then I thought wait a minute. Today I rode a rollercoaster, looked at a pool and waterslides, noted a full array of flat rides, an array of flat rides that would put PKI to shame, saw some midway games, saw some junk food, saw some picnicers, my folks aaw some live shows and I said. Wiat a minute, why should I morun the park I never got to go to, when there is in fact a full amusement park here, that I can enjoy here and now. I celebrated with a few more Pepsi Python rides. The layour may not be the same, the rides may not be the same, but there is in fact, an amusement park at Coney Island, despite that infamous announcement of Sept. 6, 1971.
We then proceeded back towards the car, where I noticed someone left ehir keys sticking out their trunk keyhole. rather than handle this myseld, I reported it to a ticket saesperson, and can happily report a coney security officer was handling the situation less than 5 minutes later.
Long live Coney Island! Nearing its second Golden Age. And to think how many times has a traditional amusement park been closed down, almost totally dismantled, and then, folks said "STOP! We really do want an amusement park here!" Maybe the park should be renamed The Phoenix
Back to Trip Reports