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Posts Tagged ‘Steeplechase Ride’

Photographer and amusement park aficionado Jim McDonnell has uploaded two new videos of Scream Zone rides to his YouTube channel. Jim was the grand prize winner of last year’s Luna Park film contest and his videos feature an inspired pairing of edited images with music. Jim’s latest shows Zamperla’s Turbo Force, which has been christened the “Zenobio” in Coney Island. The 100-foot-tall thrill ride sweeps passengers through the air at speeds of over 60 mph.

As you can see in Jim’s vid, it’s also a thrill to stand and watch the Turbo Force in action. When I worked with Wade Shows, this spectacular was often set up near the entrance to the carnival midway. The first time that I happened to pass by the ride in action, I experienced the optical illusion that the whirling arm hurtling in my direction was coming directly at me. Pretty soon I was lingering by the fence to experience the vicarious thrill of this scream machine.

Jim’s short vid of the Steeplechase Cavalry coaster aka the Motocoaster is the first showing the ride in action in Coney Island. The Zamperla coaster pays homage to Steeplechase Park’s signature horse race ride that made a circuit around the park until it closed in 1964 (“Steeplechase Express: Will Zamperla MotoCoaster Pony Up for Coney Island?,” ATZ, February 15, 2010). It’s one of two new Zamperla coasters in Coney Island’s Scream Zone. When a video of the second –the Soarin’ Eagle aka Zamperla’s Volare– is available, we’ll post a link to it here.

This vid of the Sling Shot is one of several already uploaded to YouTube by Scream Zone visitors. We expect to see many more– the Sling Shot is as much of a show as a ride. On the vid’s soundtrack, you can hear the exclamations and screams of the crowd. In a few weeks, a video camera will be mounted on the capsule and patrons will be able to purchase a video recording of their ride complete with close-ups shots of their faces. This on-ride video of the Sling Shot is part of Luna Park’s Channel of Coney Island ride videos.

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Coney Island Bound: Zamperla's Motocoaster themed as Steeplechase Cavalry Coaster. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Coney Island Bound: Zamperla's Motocoaster themed as Steeplechase Cavalry Coaster. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

In a presentation at last week’s “What’s Next for Coney Island?” panel at CUNY, Valerio Ferrari, President and CEO of Zamperla USA/CAI gave the public its first look at renderings of the four rides set to open at Luna Park’s new Scream Zone in Spring 2011. Two of the rides are Zamperla coasters: a Steeplechase Cavalry-themed MotoCoaster and an American Eagle-themed Volare flying coaster.

Here’s the original commercial for Zamperla’s horseback “Pony Express” launch coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., where it opened on Memorial Day Weekend in 2008. The prototype- a MotoCoaster with motorcycle seats–opened at Darien Lake in upstate New York, also in 2008.

Last February, ATZ posted “Steeplechase Express: Will Zamperla MotoCoaster Pony Up for Coney Island?” In reply to our query, Ferrari confided that they were then considering having the public decide which type of MotoCoaster seats–motorcycles or horses- would be used. As it turns out, there’s no need for a poll. The Coney Island theming is just the ticket for the new Luna Park. The crescent moons and pinwheel logos on Surf Avenue’s magnificent entrance pay homage to the whimsical gate of the original Luna Park. At the same time, the logo on the Spinning Mouse Coaster, renamed the Tickler in honor of Coney’s William F Mangels pioneering ride, is the Steeplechase Funny Face. A more manic version of the grinning face is also the logo for Scream Zone.

Inspired by Steeplechase Park’s signature horse race ride that made a circuit around the park, Zamperla is bringing in the cavalry! The Zamperla Steeplechase Cavalry Coaster takes its inspiration from the Steeplechase ride, but it does differ quite a bit in design. Most notably, the horses are part of a single train instead of racing against each other on multiple tracks. Another big difference: The ride’s seating design and restraint system was designed to comply with current-day safety standards.

Vintage postcard of George C Tilyou's Steeplechase Ride,which closed in 1964

Vintage postcard of George C Tilyou's Steeplechase Ride, which closed in 1964. The Coney Island History Project has an original Steeplechase horse on display.

According to Zamperla’s website:

The Pony Express comes with two trains, each accommodating up to 16 riders in an innovative pedestal seating design that maximizes safety, comfort and ride freedom. Using the time tested flywheel and clutch launch system, the PONY EXPRESS delivers a high energy ride with low energy costs. Seated two abreast on their own horses, 16 riders are treated to an exhilarating launch from 0–60 km/h (0-37 mph) in 2.5 seconds. The horses then race to the finish line along a 450 meter (1476 ft) track reaching heights of 14.7mt (48 ft.) through a breathtaking series of exciting 65 degree banked turns. Like the MotoCoaster, the PONY EXPRESS can be adapted to any theme. Let Zamperla design a custom layout and specialized theme for your venue.

Zamperla's American Eagle Coaster aka The Volare

Zamperla's American Eagle Coaster aka The Volare will be the second coaster in Coney Island's Scream Zone. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Additional rides planned for the new Scream Zone include Zamperla’s Turbo Force and a SlingShot high thrill ride from Funtime. The newly re-themed American Eagle made its debut as the Volare, which means “to fly” in Italian, at Denver’s Elitch Gardens in 2002. Zamperla/CAI has a ten-year lease to operate amusements on the 6.9 acres the City bought for $95.6 million from Thor Equities. Zamperla’s Scream Zone will be located on “Parcels B & C, ” the City-owned property at Stillwell and the Boardwalk. The thrill park is expected to open in 2011.

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May 2, 2011: Coney Island 2011: Videos of New Scream Zone Rides

April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!

August 28, 2010: Video: Grand Prize Winner of Luna Park Coney Island’s Film Contest!

February 15, 2010: Steeplechase Express: Will Zamperla MotoCoaster Pony Up for Coney Island?

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Pony Express Horse at Knott's Berry Farm

Pony Express Horse at Knott's Berry Farm. Photo © bayareabrats via flickr

Back in the summer of ’08, we had a chance to ask a visiting Zamperla ride rep if his company could rebuild Coney Island’s legendary Steeplechase Ride, which closed in 1964. His reply was to whip out his cellphone and show us a vid of the Pony Express-themed MotoCoaster. It had just opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., on Memorial Day Weekend in 2008.

Zamperla, which won a 10 year contract to build a new Luna Park on the City-owned former Astroland site and Stillwell parcels, is expected to announce their ride line up this week. Now that Zamperla is New York City’s new Coney Island Amusement Operator, we think there’s a pretty good chance the Pony Express will become the Steeplechase Express, perhaps in 2011 or 2012. Here’s a look at the Pony Express courtesy of a vid by Ryan Childers via YouTube…

According to Zamperla’s website:

The Pony Express comes with two trains, each accommodating up to 16 rides in an innovative pedestal seating design that maximizes safety, comfort and ride freedom. Using the time tested flywheel and clutch launch system, the PONY EXPRESS delivers a high energy ride with low energy costs. Seated two abreast on their own horses, 16 riders are treated to an exhilarating launch from 0–60 km/h (0-37 mph) in 2.5 seconds. The horses then race to the finish line along a 450 meter (1476 ft) track reaching heights of 14.7mt (48 ft.) through a breathtaking series of exciting 65 degree banked turns. Like the MotoCoaster, the PONY EXPRESS can be adapted to any theme. Let Zamperla design a custom layout and specialized theme for your venue.

The Zamperla Pony Express pays homage to the Steeplechase Ride, but it does differ quite a bit in design. Most notably, the horses are part of a single train instead of racing against each other on multiple tracks. Another big difference: The ride’s seating design and restraint system are new and improved to comply with current-day safety standards.

Park World correspondent and coaster aficionado Paul Ruben recalls the dangerous thrill of riding Coney Island’s Steeplechase Ride:

It was back in 1959 that I learned what it was that has two heads, four eyes, six legs and a tail. Do you know? A horse and rider. It was then I rode my first sit-astride coaster, the original Steeplechase horseback ride at Coney Island. Remember that this was the same park that featured the human roulette wheel, which you rode at your own risk. Back then the only seat belts were on race cars, and they weren’t always effective, either.

On the Steeplechase, the restraint system was a bar to hold. Since then I’ve ridden the Steeplechase at Blackpool, the old Cycle Chase at Knott’s Berry Farm, and now Darien Lake’s MotoCoaster. Most impressive on these newer rides is the progress made improving the restraint systems.

Vintage postcard of Coney Island’s original Steeplechase Ride

Vintage postcard of Coney Island’s original Steeplechase Ride (1898-1907), George C. Tilyou’s first Steeplechase Park. Photo via Tricia Vita/me-myself-i’s flickr

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