June 26, 1927 -a date that made the corner of 10th St. and Surf Ave. a part of history.
I'm talking about the Coney Island Cyclone. As a young coaster enthusiast, it was always one of my "bucket list" rides - the coaster that almost always sat near the top of the list of "Greatest Wooden Roller Coasters On Earth." This week, it's celebrating 90 YEARS, a remarkable achievement for any amusement attraction.
Over the weekend, I made my first trip down to Coney Island. After an hour ride on the Subway, I walk out onto Surf Avenue, not sure where to go. But a quick glance down the street and there it is - that classic vertical CYCLONE sign. It's hard not to think about all of the people who were making that same trip on June 26, 1927, with that same level of excitement about what was to come.
The greatest thing about the Cyclone is how much HASN'T changed over the last nine decades. You still have an old school ticket booth on the corner. You walk up and buy a ride - when it first opened, it cost just 25 cents top hop on board. It'll cost you more than a quarter today - it's $10 a pop.
Then there are the trains. This is the most cushion I've ever felt on a roller coaster seat. My favorite part - they don't have any dividers between passengers sitting next to each other. You better like who you are sitting with, because you are going to be all over each other for the next three minutes.
About that ride. The Cyclone doesn't look so daunting. Its first hill is just 85-feet tall, but the almost 60 -degree drop is enough to get you up to a top speed of 60mph. That's where things get fun.
The first thing to really catch me off guard was the sheer force in that first turn. Especially riding solo, you are PLASTERED onto the side of the car (which explains all of that cushioning). The lateral g-forces are incredible on this ride. The Cyclone feels like it will never end (and I mean that in a good way), wrapping around inside of itself with 2,800 feet of track.
Speaking of the track, the city brought in Great Coasters International to perform an upgrade. Over 90 years, this thing had gotten extremely rough. That's gone now, which has been a bit of contention among some hardcore Cyclone fans. They feel like the ride has been toned down. I found the Cyclone to be quite the thrill, and thanks to that re-tracking, one I could ride over and over again. What's not to like about that?
Is the Coney Island Cyclone the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world? No. Does it have insane ejector airtime throughout? No. But the Cyclone has something that even the best roller coaster designers can't whip up on a computer.
You can find more about the Coney Island Cyclone, including schedule and hours, on the Luna Park website. Don't forget to follow all of my roller coaster adventures at WGNTV.com/CoastinTheCountry. And let me know where I should go next - you can connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.