No-Boo USA Adventures

Discussion in 'Your Trip Reports and Plans' started by Robert Jones, 30th Oct 2019.

  1. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones TowersStreet Member

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    This really wasn't meant to be a park holiday, yet somehow I managed to turn our plans for a 5 day trip to NY and a day trip to Niagara Falls, into a 2 week holiday with a visit to 4 parks.

    Due to personal circumstances this trip got bumped twice and 18 months later we finally had something booked. Annoyingly I could now only book October because my new job gets busy in September but that couldn't cause any issues right?.... Well yes it could.

    I started planning out a trip that went something along the lines of Niagra Falls, New York, SFGA, Hersheypark, Kennywood, Kings Islands, Cedar Point and home. However it quickly became clear that in my naive thinking I was turning our holiday mainly into a coaster trip and practicality-wise it was becoming a mess. It was surprising to discover how much of America shuts down in the Fall season, which severely limited our options. So after a bit of rejigging we had a plan in place for our holiday which included the following parks;
    • Coney Island
    • Six Flags Great Adventure
    • Canada's Wonderland
    • Cedar Point.
    All Good? Not exactly. Flights were booked with travel company that went under 1 week before, you may have seen this company in the news. Cursed? Probably but 'tis the season for hexes.

    So after resolving that speed bump it was onwards to Coney Island...
    Posted 30th Oct 2019
  2. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones TowersStreet Member

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    24 hours into NY and we're still finding our feet in a city that truly is an assault on each of the five senses. Combine that with jet-lag, we probably could have done without traversing Manhattan to outer reaches the Brooklyn. The journey is simple enough on the Metro, simply head for Downtown Brooklyn and it takes between 45 minutes to an hour, dependent on your starting location. We had 7 Day metro passes so I can't remember the exact price but I am sure it was roughly $5 return. We also had the New York Pass which encompasses a whole host of NY attractions, including Coney Island. I think the basic package for Coney Island is around $45.

    Like the days of old at Blackpool the area is free to roam with wristbands or single ride vouchers available for purchase. My comparisons to Blackpool didn't stop there that day but any park on the beachfront, with grey skies, blustering winds, a pier, over priced beer and an aging wooden coaster was always going to invoke some memories of home.
    For those not in the know Coney Island is actually 2 parks, Luna Park and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Confusingly there's no real boundaries but essentially Deno's is sandwiched between 2 sections of Luna Park and as the name implies Deno owns the big wheel in the middle.

    We managed to bypass the actual Luna Park entrance and stumble in via a side street. A side street that easily could have been lifted out of a Tim Burton Batman film I might add. An abandoned ruin of carnie stalls and people staring at us giving it the "you aren't from round these parts, boy" vibe. There was very little life in the area until we reach the Wonder Wheel (Which is also included in the NY Pass).

    Wonder Wheel - We opted for one of the swinging cars and got a couple of revolutions around which seems a bit steep for $8. The wheel offers a decent view across the boardwalk and over the parks into Brooklyn, however with the state of the park you might be best gazing at the sea. (currently it's a bit of a building site). The swinging cars are fun and add a splash of thrill to what would have been a pretty OK experience. If I had to pay the $8 to ride again I would probably decline and put an additional $2 towards riding Cyclone again.

    At $8 we pass on Spook-A-Rama and nothing else takes our fancy in Deno's. So we head out on to the boardwalk, get a pint of Brooklyn and take in the views across the Atlantic and find the entrance of Luna Park.

    Despite it being a special halloween event it was 11am and the park was dead, so we went to guest services to pick up our wristbands and awkwardly avoid the leisure staff as they were desperate to drag us in to make any sale. We got our wristbands only to find out the NY Pass does not include "Extreme Thrill Rides" with Cyclone costing us $10 each. It does include a single use pass for Thunderbolt. So we only missed out on Zenobio, Go Karts and Slingshot, which wasn't a huge loss.

    As the park is now essentially Zamperla's showground it's littered with flat rides. Most were good fun but you've probably encountered them all individually on your travels.

    Coney Island Hang Glider - The restraints are awful, thankfully nobody made a rollercoaster using them :rolleyes:. The ride itself is OK. The thrill mainly comes from the height and I didn't really get a sensation of free flight that Zamperla promises. Zamperla Catalogue

    Windstarz - Another circular flat from Zamperla with hang gliders on each arm. You can adjust the height using the bar in the middle. Similarly to Hang Glider it's OK but not overly exciting. Zamperla Catalogue

    Endeavor - Endeavor is probably best described as a single seater Enterprise. I thought the exposed nature of the seat would be thrilling vs the old Huss classic, but the OTSR and safety belt really neuter the forces you experience. Still it's actually a decent enough flat and is certainly re-ridable but I personally don't think this is a revolution (Sorry!) Zamperla Catalogue

    Coney Clipper - Pirate ship standard stuff, strangely you can get directly underneath the ship in the queueline which seems a bit of disaster waiting to happen. The ride has an apparent story which encourages each half of the ride to scream louder as they raise in the air. I say apparent as we were the only ones on the ride and still lost to the empty side. It's a fix I tell you. Zamperla Catalogue

    Luna 360 - A discovery, a bit on the small side especially for the USA. A nice enough pendulum ride to get youngsters started on, nothing more. Zamperla Catalogue

    Electro Spin - A tiny Disk'O 16 but the girlfriend loves them so on we go. Meh! Zamperla Catalogue

    Atlantic Aviator - Zamperla's latest upgrade to the air race. I think its spins a little faster and the central column now rises but apart from that its the same old air race. All things considering the restraints are quite comfortable and the ride is a little repetitive but quite thrilling. To be honest you spend so much time spinning around the extra height of the new model is hardly noticeable. Still its easily the best flat here. Zamperla Catalogue

    Clockworkz - This seemed to have been the only unique flat in the park. I probably should have checked this out before getting on and I might not have been so disappointed in how static the gondolas were. The ride is 4 arms each connected to each side of a column and the columns rotate intersecting with such timing they just miss each other. It's quite amusing to watch off the ride and is a little quirky to ride. What let it down for me is that the 4 seats on each end of the arms have OTSRs, which would indicate some movement but it's fixed so that you stay upright all the way around. Zamperla Catalogue

    So with the flats completed it's on to the where I think its safe to say Zamperla severely lag behind their competitors. Rollercoasters!

    The Tickler - This is a spinning Zamperla coaster that you would probably find at any festival or fair and feel nervous about riding. I'm not sure if it was because it was plonked in a derelict area or if it was because it was built on a layer of MDF but I started questioning my choice to ride it on the lift hill. Its actually a fun little coaster, smooth but spins quite a bit and the drops pack some (relative) pace. Spinball it isn't but a surprisingly good little coaster none the less. 6/10

    Steeplechase - Give me Steeplechase at BPB anyday. I believe the other versions of this ride has bikes but this has nothing on Vekoma's booster bikes. The seat restraints have been lifted from Disk O' and are similar to Booster Bike's restraints but that's where any decent comparison ends. Steeplechase is a launch coaster that kills all of its speed (30mph) in the first banked curve. The rest of the ride is just a series of downhill bends that you saunter around until you get back at the station. 4/10

    Soarin' Eagle - Remember those restraints mentioned on the hanglider flat? Well they're back and bugger me they look like a medieval torture device and act like one as well. Anyone who has been on Hero at Mingoland will know the treat I was in for.
    You have to climb into the upright restraint on some built in steps and hoist your self in all whilst it is moving. You then have to use the steps to stand on to support yourself on the ride, fail to do this properly and you will be rattled around like Bob the floating widget in an empty Guiness can. The back closes on you and you are then suspended in the horizontal position just before you get to the impressive lift hill.
    The spiral lift hill is cool and the actual lying position isn't too bad and then the nightmare starts. In the same way that model coasters fly around tracks at top speed and snap around corners without any control, this Volare coaster has the same kind of feel. It just bundles you round bend, every inversion and you feel every jolt along the way until you slam into the brakes, at which point you don't care how painful that is because everything hurts. That's if you managed to get in properly like I did, fail to get in properly like my girlfriend did and you're going to feel like you rolled your car down a bank. 2/10. (It gets a 1 for the lift hill).

    Thunderbolt - This Zamperla thunderbolt coaster is 5 years old going on 20. The hardware looks impressive and mean but the area it seems to have been dropped in...not so much. With more derelict land on one side and a road on the other, if it wasn't connected by the boardwalk you would assume it wasn't even part of Luna park.
    The trains 3 rows of 3 which seems an odd choice but I guess Zamperla have their reasons. The restraints are quite roomy over the shoulder lap bars with a seat belt to clip in, sounds good yes? Not really because Zamperla have also fitted 2 over the shoulder straps which I'll whinge about in a minute.
    The vertical lift hill and the steep first drop into the loop is good start to the coaster but then you get halfway through the loop and smash into the harsh straps with all your body weight on your shoulders. This would have been less of an issue if Soarin' Eagle hadn't already softened me up. You then inverse, ride a banked curve and inverse to the mid-point. Each time you go upside down the straps either whip you in the face or bear your weight on your shoulders again.
    Thankfully its mainly just bunny hops back the station which is the fun part of the coaster with a slight bit of air time, there may be another inversion in there I can't quite remember. Mainly because the brake run was in sight and I was happy to be getting there.
    The ride has a strange rattle throughout and feels/sounds like its scraping against the track rather than actually coasting. For a coaster that's 5 years old it feels worse than most Vekoma SLC's, a very poor effort. 4/10

    Cyclone - If this coaster wasn't here then I probably wouldn't have entertained the idea of coming to Coney Island (What a ridiculous hobby this is sometimes). I must admit once I laid eyes on the coaster I feared it was going to be rough and having just had a really bad ride on Big Dipper a few weeks earlier, I was concerned!
    At 92 Years old this coaster has seen a lot of history including hiring a little person to zap disembarking riders with an electric paddle (yes really)! Built on June 26th 1927 it is mostly responsible for saving Coney Island thanks the "save the Cyclone" campaign after the park previously went bust. Sure it has been retracked recently by GCI but surviving Hurricane Sandy gets you a free pass.
    Like Thunderbolt it is adjacent to Luna Park but feels a little less dumped randomly in the street. The queueline has some interesting past photos and some fact cards laid throughout, but it was straight on and into the front row for us.
    Atop the lift hill and into the first drop offers another great view over the beach and the Atlantic. A view that disappears at some speed as the old girl has a bit of kick into the first uphill curve, this slows you down before gravity pulls you into a second drop with a long undulated venture to another up hill turn, again you slow to catch your breath before racing the length of the coaster and turning underneath the second turn for another bouncy journey along the coaster. Again it's undulating whilst maintaining a solid pace into another turnaround underneath the 3rd turn, more of the same as it races into the final turnaround. Finally you bounce into the tunnel and into the station from where you started.
    It's great coaster and you can see why it has lasted 92 years and received the love it has from Brooklyn. Mandy get GCI to fix dipper! 8/10

    Food and drink inside is mainly burger, chips, hotdog and pretzels and it's quite reasonably priced as well. However I'd recommend something from Nathans Famous just a block over from Thunderbolt, it's been there since 1916 and after sampling the food I can see why. A massive chilli-dog with a litre of Coney Island IPA for $14 set me up for the day.

    The staff at the park clearly didn't want to be there that day and the lack of people really hampered any kind of buzz at the start. however things picked up through the day and we made the best of it. Lit up at night it's quite the spectacle along the boardwalk.

    Would I recommend taking an extra day out of a trip to NY? I'm not sure, being sort of close to SFGA and Dorney it's really difficult to recommend. Without Cyclone and the history it would probably be a straight no, so Zamperla have some heavy work to do and I don't think the 2020 log flume and treetop adventure will cut it.
    Posted 30th Oct 2019
  3. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones TowersStreet Member

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    I should totally get on with the rest of this report. Apologies for the delay, have a bonus weird cred whilst you wait...

    Matt N likes this.
    Posted 7th Nov 2019
  4. Mikw

    Mikw TowersStreet Member

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    Thank you! Really enjoyed reading your report.

    Particularly the "widget in a Guiness can" description of Soarin Eagle!
    Robert Jones likes this.
    Posted 8th Nov 2019
  5. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    @Robert Jones very much enjoying your reports.

    I am trying to decide whether to defend Coney Island or not. I guess without its history and the Cyclone (and Wonder Wheel, I'd argue) I'd not have made the effort to go there as it currently stands, but perhaps thats kind of the point. I guess they're not really trying to get international guests, they're there for New Yorkers, of which less than half own a car.

    Now Coney Island has been cleaned up, I think it holds a greater appeal to locals, but perhaps less to international visitors. It used to feel quite dangerous, edgy and 'real', but the loss of Astroworld and subsequent build out of Luna Park, it is quite different. Shoot the Freak kind of epitomised the place, even 15 years ago - you don't even have to go back as far as dwarves electrocuting humans or humans electrocuting elephants.

    It'll be interesting to see if Zamperla respond to Legoland, I suspect probably not.
    Robert Jones likes this.
    Posted 8th Nov 2019
  6. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones TowersStreet Member

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    Thanks for reading it and I'm glad you're enjoying it. I'm trying to strike a balance between describing each ride with as much respect and humour as they deserve. The less I enjoyed a ride the more sarcastic I'll get :eek:

    Thanks Rick :) Wow that's interesting, I saw graffiti and murals referencing shoot the freak, I didn't realise it was so recent.

    I can appreciate the sentiments to defend it or not. It would be too easy to just hammer the park but it's not without its quirky charm either. Yes the Wheel is definitely part of the draw too. Though I suppose appearing in a recent spiderman film also helped bump curiosity.

    Fully agree its primarily Brooklynites that will be its core market but it's inclusion in the NY pass would suggest someone is pushing for guests further afield. (almost every other attraction is Manhattan based).

    Great point I didn't even consider Legoland but I think you're right that they won't see it as competition. I reckon Zamperla would be happy enough to provide hardware.
    Posted 9th Nov 2019

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