I realize that the Thunderbolt didn't operate after 1984 and it was in bad shape in it's last years. Also, obviously the Cyclone is the only coaster of Coney's past that has surived. I only rode the Thunderbolt once as a child and don't remember much about it. My dad and others I have spoken to about it say that it was a solid ride.
Jim 'jimvid' McDonnell *** Edited 1/20/2004 8:51:33 PM UTC by jimvid***
Was the Cyclone the more popular ride back when both were running?
I remember reading an interview with John Allen years ago about how he knew all the old time designers including John Miller, Aurel *Dutch* Vaszin. Shirley Watkins, Joe Mckee, Herb Schmeck, and Harry Baker. John said that they were all friends, and shared ideas with each other because they each had their own unique style, and were dedicated to building asthetically sound rides. (I just found the interview, and it is from a book called Funland USA)
I'll bet that what John said has a lot to do with the reason the two designs are so similar.
To answer your original question. Bill Cobb was hired by Astroworld to go to Coney Island to look into the feasability of moving the Cyclone to Texas. Apparently the city of New York stepped in and had the ride declared a landmark and said Six Flags could copy the design if Bill would advise them on how to refurbish the ride. Cyclone was in pretty bad shape at the time like the Thunderbolt was in its last years. So that is likely the reason for all the Cyclone copies at the Six flags properties.
Wood - anything else is an imitation *** Edited 1/20/2004 9:44:03 PM UTC by Thrillerman***
The only reason I can think of is because, since the very beginning it seems, the Cyclone was always considered the better of the two rides. I never rode the Thunderbolt, but I understand that the pacing wasn't as fluid as that of the Cyclone.
Then again (as I sit here, deep in thought), perhaps it also has to do with the fact, up until the 60's, the Thunderbolt was part of something larger and more spectacular (Steeplechase Park) and got "lost" amongst all the hype, while the Cyclone seems to have always stood as an attraction on its own? There's also the issue of the Tornado, which was always considered to be the best of the three? I remember a quote from someone, something along the lines of "when the Tornado caught fire, the wrong coaster at Coney Island burned down." *** Edited 1/20/2004 10:13:42 PM UTC by Rob Ascough***
Wood - anything else is an imitation
Based on accounts from my relatives who all grew up in Brooklyn, the Cyclone is the ride they remember from their youth (that and Steeplechase) - I think more than anything because it scared them (based on their descriptions). When they would goto Coney they would only ride it once.
Keep in mind the Cyclone is definitely a violent ride - especially with the 4 bench cars; whereas when I hear descriptions of the Thunderbolt it is compared more to the Miller classics such as the big dipper (SFWOA) or Jack Rabbit/Racer (KW) in ride quality.
It is my impression that the Thunderbolt when it had better days was definitely a fun ride just not super wild, and the airtime on the double down was supposedly amazing.
Jim 'jimvid' McDonnell
On a side note, I hope he found the Cyclone more thrilling than his historic flight. 99%+ of that flight was pure blah. Not exactly the best pacing for a coaster. *** Edited 1/21/2004 7:52:16 AM UTC by (SF)Great American***
Thunderbolt 1925- First modern coaster, use of new lap bars and the 3 wheel system. Miller
Cyclone 1927- Thrilling first drop, BETTER LOCATION, larger. Vernon
The cyclone goes from Surf Ave. to the boardwalk while the thunderbolt only went from the Bowery to not even the boarldwalk MAJOR difference in size. Second the thunderbolt had 2 chains because of it being the first modern w/ no computors to help the hill right after the second turn with the double dip was angled too steep for the train to make it up the hill, so a small chain was added to make it over. Third $$$$$ they say that every year the Thunderbolt and Tornado makes $90,000 the Cyclone would make $2000,000, more money for repairs and upkeep another reason the cyclone still exists. Disreguard the 70's battle over the cyclone the real truth is that the Aquarium did not want a loud coaster next to its relaxing exibits, it was not a money struggle.
So you see that there are great difference between the two coasters.
How did you get involved with the Cyclone?
A friend of mine called me and asked if I could build it. We went up to New York to look at the Coney Island Cyclone. We had a deal with them. We'd look at it and tell them whether or not they could open it. In return, we had permission to copy it. The original idea had been to move the Coney Island coaster down to Texas. Astroworld wanted something to attract attention: something wild. That's a famous coaster, and the manager got the idea to go up and get it. But, the moving of it would have been as expensive as building a new one.
Why did you reverse the layout of the Texas version?
We needed the entrance and exit and loading station where it would fit the park. The best thing to do was reverse it. It's also slightly larger. It follows very closely to the design of the original. We sent a crew up to New York. They did measurements and surveys of the entire ride. Then, they did a ground line layout and profile. I think they spent about three weeks up there. Next we plotted it up and did an analysis of what velocities it should have, what forces, and so on. We treated it like a brand new coaster. Then, we decided to reverse it. We followed their profile, but we made it do what we wanted it to do. I think the Houston ride is more like the original Cyclone than the one in New York. We found that it had been cut down in places, and you didn't get the smooth flow you originally had. You can pick those things out when your analyzing it and tell that someone had worked on it.
Is the Texas Cyclone as steep as the original?
Yes, they're both 53 degrees. I remember that it was an odd degree. most of them are 45, and 53 degrees is pretty steep. In fact, we debated for quite a long time on whether to use 53 degrees, but the original used 53 degrees, so we decided to use it.
Why were four-seat cars originally used?
They wanted to make it almost identical to the original, which also has four-seat cars.
Did that work well?
Yeah, they get around, let's say that. We had to make some adjustments in the design, getting and out of the super elevations. We had to design that ride around the cars. We had to make some adjustments when we went to three-seaters.
What changes have you made in the structure in the last few years?
We dropped the south turn two feet to fix a problem we had with the south wind. When they have a strong wind, the train would stop. When they didn't have a wind, everything was fine. I think we lowered the north turn, also, changed the super-elevations in a few places, and put some spirals in where we go in or come out of a curve with a short tangent, to smooth that out.
Is that a high maintenance ride?
I'd say yes, compared to an out-and-back. It has more forces. On the Screamin' Eagle, after you get past the first drop, it's real gentle, about like riding a trolley. It's up, down and around, but there's nothing violent about it at all. The Cyclone is so compact that you don't have room to get in or out of anything. You have to go directly from one direction to another.
Wood - anything else is in imitation
If you look at the origanal photos of the Texas Cyclone, that ride looked savagely brutal in its original profile from 1976.
To answer your question, the publication Roller Coaster Fever (that helped to spawn ACE) says this about the Coney Island Cyclone. *The distance of the initial drop was increased to equal the overall height of the structure when the ride was remodeled in 1937 by Chris Feucht.* Although in conflict to what Biil Cobb said about the rides' initial drop angle, RCF also says the first drop is 60 degrees. So take that for what its worth. *** Edited 1/21/2004 6:53:32 PM UTC by Thrillerman***
The only modifications that I know of on the ride are the tunnel into the station - this was added to cover the skid brakes during rain, etc; and the addition of the secondary bar (or under bar) on the restraints.
I can only imagine what the ride would be like without the secondary restraint bar - it must have been insane. I'm pretty sure that was added in the early 80's.
Jim 'jimvid' McDonnell
For the record the Texas Cyclone has nothing on the C.I. Cyclone, the heavy trains on NY makes the ride great, the lightweight trains in TX makes a different ride. A 6 ton train with out people will have alot more forces than a 3.5 ton train with people.
While I don't doubt your opinion about the Texas version not measuring up to the original and the difference in train weights, I know people who would argue the Texas ride in its original form(1976, w/4-bench PTC's, three car train) was better.
I've ridden both coasters, but unfortunately the first time I rode the Texas version was in 1984 after the infamous morgan *coffins* were installed and numerous reprofilings. I must say that it was a decent ride that was ruined by HORRIBLE trains. To this day I can't stand those trains on ANY coaster because they feel like your riding in a shopping cart.
I must add I was lucky to get back to Houston two years ago and they have since removed the *coffins* from the trains(as many know) and the ride is now simply amazing. I was at the park for two consecutive evenings and did nothing but marathon that thing. I was blown away by the experience and couldn't walk away from the ride it was that much fun. Dare I say it is the best woodie in the state now?!!!
While nothing will ever compare to the shear power and viscious drops of the Coney Island Cyclone, Texans now have a version they can be proud of again.
Wood - anything else is an imitation
mOOSH [loves Cyclone!]
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