Place: Coney Island Amusement Park (Cincinnati, OH)
Date: Sunday July 25, 2004
Weather: Overcast and cool, temps in the low 70's
With my travels taking me into Northern Kentucky this past weekend, I had the opportunity to make a brief visit to Cincinnati's Coney Island Amusement Park. Long a legend in the Cincy area, this small little park once had quite an impressive array of rides and coasters until then-owners Taft Broadcasting decided to pack up shop and move 20 miles north to Mason, Ohio in order to escape the massive floods of the Ohio River. From what I can gather, the old Sunlite Pool and several buildings were left behind but obviously not forgotten as the park is once again attracting visitors with an interesting array of attractions primarily geared towards families. While I didn't get to stay long, I did get one very cheap coaster credit at a very strange little park.
After spending some time at the Belterra Casino in Indiana the night before and coming out ahead (I played for 3 hours and ended up with $1.05 more than I started with!), I guess I didn't feel too bad about paying a $6 parking fee at Coney. After being turned away from gate #1 (which I did not know was for "company picnics"), we headed back down Kellogg Avenue to Gate #2... which apparently is the original park entryway. The arch-like entrance had a "Euclid Beach-esque" feel to it. We paid our $6 and headed into the parking lot near the park's waterslides. Since I didn't take advantage of the water activities, I have to say that Coney Island has a rather intimidating looking waterslide structure. The wooden supports hold up a maze of flumes that wind up and down for quite a ways before dumping guests out into the Sunlite Pool. I actually wish I could have rode them as they looked very cool. The Sunlite Pool is also a rather interesting sight. The pool is simply enormous. The weather wasn't exactly gorgeous this day, but there was no shortage of patrons using the pool.
Before I review the 2 rides I rode, let me first say that Coney Island's admission policy kind of reeks. I was appreciative of the fact that admission to the Grounds is free since my girlfriend wasn't feeling up to riding any rides today. However, Coney does not sell individual ride tickets. You either walk around for free, or pay $9.00 for a ride-all-day pass. I could have sworn I saw pictures on the park's website that showed rides with a number of tickets required to ride on the signage...but maybe I was just hallucinating. In any case, I do think the park should offer individual ride tickets... but what do I know? I'm just an enthusiast! ;-)
After I griped to my girlfriend about the park's admission policy, I parted with my $9.00, put my wristband on, and got into the line for the Pepsi Python (Coaster #137 for me). PP is a standard Pinfari Zyklon structure with some not-so-standard trains. First, I have never seen a Zyklon run with a 2-car train. Secondly, I have never seen cars like these. They are VERY open and feature molded bucket-style seats with a headrest and lapbar. After about a 10-minute wait (there were 2, 2-car trains in operation, which I believe is all this ride can run), I was riding in the first seat of the second car. When someone attempted to board the second row of the second car, the ride operator said "Sorry, we don't let people sit there". Now this started to peak my curiosity. I have been on Zyklons before and never found them to be too vicious. Then again, those were the standard models that didn't have cars hooked together to form a train. Once everyone was situated, we were released and climbed the lift. After a 180-degree right turn, the train takes a VERY sharp plunge down the first dip. This was quite possibly one of the most brutal dips I have experienced on this type of coaster as my knee slammed into the front of the car and my neck snapped back against the headrest. Now I see why the back seat is not in use. It could cause some serious damage. We proceeded around more dips and turns including one near the end that was heavily braked to the point of almost stopping the train. There was a small dip after this section... that if it was taken at full speed, would probably result in everyone in car #2 of the train returning with a broken neck and misaligned spine. In all, Pepsi Python was what I figured it would be... a very cheap way to add one more coaster to the count. I was NOT expecting the brutality of this ride.
I had to recuperate, so we walked around the park and found it to be charming for what it was. My g/f, who obviously has been with me for too long if she's making amusement park comments, told me that she enjoyed Conneaut Lake Park more than Coney's atmosphere. I'd have to agree. I'm sure back in the day, this place was all that. Today, it serves a nice purpose to families in Southwestern Ohio with Americana/LeSourdsville being out of the picture. The one thing I did like about the park was a sign posted on the Moonlight Square games and food building that showed the 1997 Flood Crest level. It was easily 10 feet above ground... which is absolutely amazing. I'm surprised the park has survived as long as it has with the severe flooding that goes on.
We wandered through the "Guest Relations Museum" and checked out some of the cool photos of the park in its heyday. The park looked really good with its wooden coaster, Wild Mouse, Tumble Bug, and other rides lining the midway. I know some were moved to Kings Island and others were razed... but after wandering through the park, I feel this place has a TON of potential to become a fantastic classic amusement park. A small to mid-sized CCI woodie or a spinning mouse like the ones found at Seabreeze and Waldameer would make a fine addition as would a few more major thrill rides, or even a Sally dark ride to add to the classic atmosphere. The souvenir selection was pretty bad, though, so I ended up coming out of the "store" empty handed.
I noticed the park's Scrambler seemed to be running at a rather respectable rate, so I took a spin on this Eli classic while the g/f picked up some grossly-overpriced Snickers Ice Cream in a cup from a food stand. The Scrambler here ran 4 times faster than the one I rode at Seabreeze a few weeks back and gave a nice long cycle time. It's location near "Lake Como" added nicely to the experience. Definitely a very good ride.
That was it for my riding. $15 (if you include the parking fee) to ride a Zyklon and a Scrambler is kind of pricey... but that's one of the small prices we pay for supporting our hobby. Other rides at Coney included a nicely refurbished Herschell (or Chance, I can't tell the difference) Flying Bobs which would run some cycles forwards and others backwards. Is this a random thing, or does the operator just say "Hell, let's run it backwards this time?" I didn't like the fact that you didn't know which way you were going to go as all ride cycles consisted of only one direction, so I opted not to ride. There was also what appeared to be a Fredriksen Fun Slide, a Dodgem pavilion, an Eli Ferris Wheel, a Hrubetz Super Round Up, a nicely-painted Chance Trabant (which suffered from the same "Forwards/Backwards" problem the Flying Bobs had), several kiddie rides including an S&S Frog Hopper, a Sellner Tilt-A-Whirl, a small Chance Carousel, a nicely-maintained Watkins Tempest which seemed to run much faster than the one that used to reside at Conneaut Lake, the aforementioned Eli Scrambler, and finally, a bizarre little contraption known as the Spin-A-Ree. The ride consisted of tubs that looked like those used on a Bubble Bounce attached to a revolving center column. Each tub could be raised up off the ground as well. It didn't look like much, but I had never seen one of these before. Anyone know what kind of ride this is and who the manufacturer is? I still haven't figured this one out.
Overall, Coney Island Ohio is a halfway-decent little park and I did manage to have fun. It's not my favorite by any means and it isn't high on my list of parks that I "must-visit" again, but it had some nice history behind it and as I mentioned earlier, the place looks to have a lot of potential. It has a great location right off I-275, plenty of nicely landscaped paths, and a scenic riverfront location. Obviously that very same river can spell disaster for this park as well, but there really is a lot this park can do. If the park can draw consistent crowds the size of the one that was there today, I honestly see good things ahead for this historic landmark.
Thanks for reading-
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