June 26, 2018
When one thinks of amusement park rides, it’s none other than the roller coaster which has been firmly etched on the psyche of the American. It was in 1884 when the first Coney Island coaster – known as The Switchback Railway – opened.
Over the years Coney Island was truly ground zero for amusement rides, especially the roller coaster.
It was on June 26, 1927 when the Cyclone coaster opened, providing thrills for generations:
From the Infallible Wikipedia:
“The Cyclone sits at the corner of Surf Avenue and West 10th Street. The track is 2,640 feet (800 m) long (including six fan turns and twelve drops) and the lift hill is 85-foot (26 m) tall at its highest point; the first drop is at a 58.1 degree angle. It has three trains of three eight-person cars; one train can run at a time. The ride’s top speed is 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) and it takes about one minute and fifty seconds. “
When one looks at a photo of the Cyclone it truly is the iconic image of the wooden coaster.
The coaster underwent a complete renovation in 1974-75 with its deteriorating wooden structure being replaced with steel.
In 1991 it was declared a National Historic landmark and still operates to this day.
I have no amusing story of riding the Cyclone but I will say that I’m no longer as big a fan of roller coasters as I once was. The last high speed coaster I rode was California Screamin’ at the California Adventure (adjacent to Disneyland) and swore I’d never ride one that wild again. I would, however, ride either of my two favorite roller coasters, both at Disneyland: Big Thunder Railroad and The Matterhorn Bobsleds.
What’s fun about those is that the ride goes fast enough to provide a bit of a thrill but they also incorporate a story into the ride.
When you ride the Matterhorn, according to the promotional Disney website, you will:
“Break out of the side of the mountain and race down the base of the peak. Swoop in and out of shadowy caves and along jagged rocky ledges. Throttle through icy chutes and around frozen precipices. Whisk across wooden and stone bridges, pass under waterfalls and weave around mysteriously glowing ice crystals before splashing down in a shallow alpine lake.
But the real peril is not the snow or sleet. Folklore has it that a growling monster known as the Abominable Snowman lives inside the mountain—and that he will do anything and everything to protect his home.”
And it is fun to nearly run in to the Yette around many a corner, his glowing eyes and menacing roar adding to the charm of the speedy bobsled descent.
The same is true of Big Thunder Railroad (BTRR). The ride utilizes entertaining elements: an abandoned, bat filled mine, goats on the tracks, and the threat of a tunnel collapse, to add to the adventure. The interesting thing about this ride is that the ride has evolved over the years.
When I first visited Disneyland in the summer of 1970, the ride, called “Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland,” was a sedate meander through an array of western landscapes including mountains, deserts, and geyser basins. My parents, my sister and I enjoyed the ride at the time, not realizing that it was destined to be re-purposed. The ride was closed in early 1977 and reopened as a roller coaster in September 1979.
My first experience on BTRR was as an adult with my hubby in the early 1980’s. We both loved the ride and every trip to Disneyland in subsequent years ALWAYS required at least one spin on Big Thunder Railroad: fast enough to be exciting but not so fast as to give you whiplash. Exactly my sort of roller coaster.
For more information on The Cyclone:
And about the former Mine Train Attraction:
And the Matterhorn Bobsleds: