We’re thrilled that Coney Island has two exciting new roller coasters– the Soarin’ Eagle (Volare) and the Steeplechase Motocoaster–in Scream Zone as well as the Tickler in Luna Park. But we were taken aback by the claim in the City’s press release: “Debut of First New Roller Coasters Since the Cyclone Opened in 1927.” It’s simply not true. Either the City does not know about the Flying Turns and Jumbo Jet or they are dismissing them as not worthy of consideration.
A cursory Google search of Coney Island Roller Coaster History reveals that there have been at least three coasters built here since the Cyclone. Now history is being revised by a slew of headlines like “Coney Island gets first new roller coasters in 80 years” (Reuters) and “Coney Island Unveils First New Roller Coaster in 84 Years” (WNYC). Is fact-checking out of fashion? Nearly 40 years is more like it if one considers Anton Schwarzkopf and the Jumbo Jet.
The last new roller coaster built in Coney Island was the Jumbo Jet (1972-2002) operated by Norman Kaufman in his new Steeplechase Park. As swampfoxer says in the video which he made in 1992:
It was designed by Anton Schwarzkopf, a German engineer responsible for many steel coasters and amusement rides all over the world. This coaster had a unique spiral incline which took the 2 car train to a height of approximately 56 feet. The first big drop was followed by a sharp 90 degree high speed turn followed by more hair raising drops and sharply banked turns. After 30 years of operation, the coaster was eventually closed and dismantled.
Coney Island also had two bobsled style “flying turns” wooden coasters. The Flying Turns (1934 – 1939) in Steeplechase Park was destroyed by a fire after only five years of operation. The Bobsled (1941 – 1974) was originally built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. After the fair, the ride was moved to Stillwell and 15th Street in Coney Island. Charles Denson tells the story of the Bonsignore family, who operated the Bobsled, in his book Wild Ride: A Coney Island Roller Coaster Family. Since 2006, Knoebels in Pennsylvania has been at work on the world’s first modern flying turns coaster.
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April 28, 2010: New Coney Island Coaster Pays Homage to Luna Park’s 1906 Tickler