"27 years is far too long to wait."
As we headed up IR-71 from Louisville, we passed through the storms. Big storms. Thunder, lightning, and rain. Animals departing in pairs. Well, maybe not that bad, but I guess a few worms crawled into convenient apples. We discussed the situation, and debated which small Cincinnati area park to visit. Knowing that downtown Cincinnati is plagued with road construction at the moment, the decision was made to take the Eastern leg of IR-275 around to Kellogg Ave. Just immediately West of IR-275, on Kellogg, adjacent to the Ohio River, is Coney Island. This is the park where the modern amusement park began. This was where uniformed ride operators operated rides grouped around broad, sparkling midways, certainly not the seedy, dirty, dangerous-feeling places that Walt Disney hated so much. It was a showplace of Philadelphia Toboggan products, one of America's premier amusement parks, which provided many inspirational cues that showed up at Disneyland and other latter-day amusement parks.
But all of that changed in 1971. With grandiose plans, Taft Broadcasting bought the park, closed it, moved anything that was portable and bulldozed anything that wasn't. Well, okay, so they spared the swimming pool and a couple of other buildings. They got half of the Moonlite Gardens down before the dance floor stopped the bulldozer. But the Lost River, Shooting Star, Wildcat, and Teddy Bear all fell before it was over. The tragic destruction was made bearable for the local population only because it was accompanied by the construction of Kings Island up in Kings Mills.
The broadcasting group retained the ownership of Coney Island, and largely prevented Coney from rebuilding to compete with Kings Island. The pool remained open, and the picnic grove remained, but not much else. Parts of the land were sold off to allow for the creation of the Riverbend Ampitheatre. But the roller coasters were gone forever.
Or so it seemed.
Paramount bought Kings Island, and Coney Island began to awaken once again. The picnic business picked up and Coney Island became one of Cincinnati's largest food service operations. A number of flat rides were installed.
Now, in 1999, 27 years after the last Coney Island coaster was unceremoniously bulldozed, there is a roller coaster at Coney Island. It's a steel Galaxi called the Python, and like the Americana coasters that Coney Island owns, it runs only one two-car train.
We parked the car in the lot right behind the coaster ($4!), entered the grounds, and sought out a ticket booth. Because it was after 4pm, we paid $4 (instead of $7) for our POP passes. Ride tickets are also available for $0.50 each. We waited in the long line, and after about 20 minutes took our ride on the Python, in the back seat.
The Python has a few interesting features. First of all, the track is painted teal, but the structure is all unpainted hot-dipped galvanized steel. Second, instead of the typical low-profile Galaxi car, the Python has a more rounded car with a lower step-in, shared ratcheting lap bars, and moderately high, sculpted seat backs. High, but still low enough for an adult to see over the top. The ride runs well, though like all Galaxis it is rather slow. It isn't a big thrill machine, but it proved to have at least one surprise. I had my hands up all the way down the first drop, but at the bottom, the pull-out was sudden enough that the ride forces actually forced my arms down and I banged my wrists into the back of the seat in front of me. Whee! I've never had that happen before. It isn't quite as much fun as the Zyklon at Bland's Park, but a park building its first roller coaster in three decades has to start somewhere. Except for the single train operation, the coaster is a great match for Coney Island.
Rather than wait for another ride, we proceeded to examine the other rides the park has to offer, and ride most of the adult ones. Coney has an odd habit of running certain rides for a half-cycle, and alternating between half-cycles on each load. So if you want a complete ride on their Trabant or their Flying Bobs, you had best figure on riding at least twice. Here's a list of rides; the first column indicates the number of $0.50 tickets per ride:
|Adult and Family Rides:|
|2||Flying Bobs||Chance||Flying Bobs|
|2||Super Round-Up||Hrubetz||Super Round-Up|
|2||Krazy Kars||RDC||Bumper Cars|
|2||Ferris wheel||Eli Bridge Company||HY-5 cable drive wheel|
|2||Bumper Boats||J&J Amusements||Bumper Boats|
|2||Scrambler||Eli Bridge Company||Scrambler|
|1||Spin-A-Ree||San Antonio Roller Works||Spin-A-Ree|
|1||Skyfighters||Allan Herschell||Sky Fighters|
|1||Kiddie Circle Freeway||Hampton||Combo Umbrella Ride|
|1||Racing Rockets||?||(rocket ride)|
|1||Airplanes||Allan Herschell||Red Baron|
|1||Boats & Trains||King||(boat & train kiddie)|
|1||Kiddie Bumper Boats||J&J?||Bumper Boats|
|1||Antique Cars||Hampton||Antique Car Umbrella Ride|
Notice that if you ride each of the adult rides once, you need 22 tickets, which will cost you $11...$4 more than the all-day POP, and $7 more than the twilight POP.
We rode most of the rides, wandered the grounds a bit, and had an enjoyable conversation with Vic Nolting, the extremely knowledgeable, interesting, approachable, and involved President [Footnote 1] of Coney Island. He was watching a participant on the miniature golf course running around in search of a trash can, and immediately ordered a can moved to solve the problem. Hands on management at its finest--spot the problem, find a solution, and make it happen. The park becomes a better place, and most people won't even notice. But they won't have the problem anymore.
We had a great time at Coney Island. But we wanted to get up to Kings Island for the evening, so we jumped into the car and cruised Northwest.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Footnote 1: I think that's his title. In any case,
he's The Boss of Coney Island and Americana. [Return
Next: Camden Park
Back to the 1999 Park Visits index
Back to Dave's Adventures
Back to Dave's page...