The historic legendary wooden roller coaster at Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, called the Cyclone tops everyone’s list of things to do in New York City. It was designed by Vernon Keenan, and it opened to the public on June 26, 1927. The ride’s top speed is 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) pushing 3.75 g of force into the riders and it takes about one minute and fifty seconds. The Cyclone is 85’ tall, it has 2,800 feet of track and you need to be 4’ 6” tall in order to ride on this roller coaster. Most people take either the Belt Parkway or Ocean Parkway to get you to Coney Island. The Belt Parkway is the name given to a series of connected limited-access highways that form a belt-like circle around the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. You can get to the Belt Parkway if you come from Jersey thru Staten Island and go over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. This is the bridge that is in the movie Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta. If you are coming from Long Island via the Southern State Parkway you can also get to the Belt Parkway and you should see John F. Kennedy International Airport on your left. This airport used to be known as Idlewild Airport, but after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 it was renamed.
The Cyclone is a treasured piece of living history, my Dad rode on it when he was young and he took my sister, my brother and I there when we were young. My Dad lived in Canarsie, which is part of Brooklyn and not too far from Coney Island. Generations of passengers have felt the anticipation of joy and the fear that is instilled from this roller coaster. Unlike the more modern, rigid-steel attractions, a wooden roller coaster like the Cyclone can shimmy and shake between 6 and 10 inches at the top, which adds to the fun. After you purchase your ticket, you move along with the other passengers to the loading platform to board the 24-passenger train. The low-slung seats do not have headrests, but they do contain a single-position bar safety restraint. The two-person bench seats do not have dividers, so you will likely be pushed up against your seatmate as it twists around the bends.
As the train rolls out of the station to engage the chain lift, you will ride past a sign that says, “Final warning: No standing!” and hear the clickety-clack sound of the wheels on the wooden track. You will be facing the beach and the ocean beyond, and the view from the top of the hill is spectacular. You will feel all hell break loose, as the first drop is quite steep nearly 60 degrees and your body will sense every bump on the way down. Then a 180-degree turn at the bottom of the hill sends the train racing up the second hill and delivering the first of many bursts where your body will be lifted up in the air off of your seat. Euphoric moments from this mother of all roller coasters will make you want to ride the Cyclone again and again. The ultimate experience is achieved if you can get the front row seat. The Cyclone looks like an old antique, but riding it feels like an act of New York defiance, giving the middle finger to the new gleaming steel coasters of safer suburban theme parks. Unlike the Dodgers, the Cyclone will never leave Brooklyn.
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver – #235 – August 8th – Roller Coaster hosted by Michael.