Back in the fall of 2019, I was in the midst of a 2-week work trip in Brooklyn, NY. I had a few free days during my assignment and Sharon flew up to see me. We spent our time doing things we don’t normally get to do when we’re spending our time in Manhattan seeing Broadway shows.
There’s so much in that paragraph that seems different in 2021, like talking about a “work trip” and referencing 2019 like it was another time. I was going to write about this trip in the spring of 2020 but it didn’t make much sense when most of Coney Island was shut down due to the COVID pandemic. Now that the rides are open again, with only minor changes, it’s time to relive this trip.
One thing on our to-do list was taking a trip to Coney Island. I already wrote about our visit to the New York Aquarium and how you should eat at the “real” Nathan’s Famous instead of the one on the Boardwalk.
While those things were on our list of things to do at Coney Island, there were two bucket list items on our list: riding the Coney Island Cyclone (1927) and the Wonder Wheel (1920). But I have to qualify that statement because each of us was not thrilled about riding one or the other of these iconic attractions.
I’m a roller coaster fan and going on The Cyclone has always been something I wanted to do. However, I’m not thrilled about heights and the thought of swinging back and forth in a car on the Wonder Wheel caused me minor anxiety.
On the other hand, Sharon loves Ferris wheels, and the more she can swing the car the better. She also hates roller coasters with steep drops and was not looking forward to the Cyclone.
So our trip was a quid pro quo. I’d go on the Wonder Wheel with her on one of the swinging cars IF she went on the Cyclone with me. We both agreed to the terms and started our quest.
If you’ve never been to a seaside boardwalk, it’s hard to explain Coney Island. On the block between the road and the beach, there are amusement parks. We’re not talking about Disney World or Six Flags, but more like a permanent state fair.
There’s a story about both The Cyclone and Wonder Wheel but as a guest, all you need to know is that the two rides are in separate parks. The Cyclone is part of the larger Luna Park complex and the Wonder Wheel is located inside Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.
We started our trip at The Coney Island Cyclone. The iconic roller coaster is a New York City Landmark (1988) and listed in the National Register of Historic Places (1991).
A ride on The Cyclone costs 10 credits ($10) per person. We were able to purchase admission at the entrance of the ride.
Riders need to be at least 54 inches tall. That’s because the ride’s only restraint system is a seat belt and lap bar.
As we got into our seats, the kid in the seat in front of us turned all the way around and asked us if we’d ever ridden before because this is his favorite ride. 🙂
I had an amazing time on The Cyclone. Based on this picture, Sharon didn’t enjoy herself as much as I did (Note from Sharon: I thought I was gonna die. Based on the picture, I think I did).
What I didn’t know at the time was that I had ridden this roller coaster before. When we visited Japan, we visited the now-defunct Disney rip-off Nara Dreamland. I said after our trip that Aska, the wooden roller coaster at the park, was the best “woodie” I’d ever been on. Turns out that was because it was a turn for turn copy of The Cyclone.
Turnabout is fair game so after this we headed to the Wonder Wheel. Sharon held up her end of the bargain so it was my turn and face my fears.
Admission to the Wonder Wheel was also $10 per person, which showed that the free market pricing model is alive and well at Coney Island.
We had a little wait to get onto one of the swinging cars.
I was questioning my decision right after the ride operator closed the door.
Since I’m still here to write this post, you know everything turned out fine. Just like the Cyclone, I had already been on a similar ride before. The only other ride with swinging gondolas in the U.S. is the Pixar-Pal-A-Round (formerly Mickey’s Fun Wheel) at Disney’s California Adventure, which been on once before. But only once. Because swinging gondola Ferris wheel.
So while I wasn’t thrilled about the experience, I did like the opportunity to get a birds-eye view of Coney Island. If I was paying $10, I might as well enjoy the ride.
While Coney Island might not have the glamour it did 100 years ago, it’s still an interesting place to spend the day and something you’re not likely to experience anywhere else in the world.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary