The Cyclone Still Has Enough Tricks Up Its Sleeve to Offer a Thrilling Ride
As I exited the subway station at the far end of the line, I could tell that the ocean was nearby. I didn’t know exactly where the Cyclone was located, but one glance down Surf Avenue and there it was. A tall rectangular electric sign right on the corner of the street brought a smile to my face. I had driven to the airport, flown, ridden a bus, a subway, and walked, and now I was minutes away from the hallowed ground that is Coney Island and a ride on the legendary Cyclone.
There’s no real amusement park gate or archway proclaiming that you’ve arrived at a historic landmark. Just a gated entranceway that held the ticket booth. Right at noon, they opened the bars surrounding the ticket booth and I bought my ticket for one ride for $8. I took a short walk around the corner and there was the station. An attendant took my ticket, I dropped off my backpack, and picked a seat.
The Cyclone’s single train consisted of three cars with three benches each. For my first ride I took the first bench of the middle car. The seats were like padded, comfy loveseats. There was no seat divider and one enormous lap bar. The bar was a thick, padded and was the length of the entire seat. The lap bar made the ride very snug and reminded me of being secured into some kind of torture device. On one hand, I knew that there was no chance I was going to fly off of the train. But, on the other hand, I knew that there were likely a lot of people who just wouldn’t be able to fit. There was a sign in the station that stated: ‘Larger Riders Might Not Be Able to Ride, If So We’ll Gladly Refund Your Money’.
As with other roller coasters from the 1920′s, the Cyclone’s station was kind of tilted forward and trains were dispatched via a huge lever. When everyone was trapped, I mean strapped in, the ride op pulled the big lever and the train crept out of the station. The train took an immediate right turn and began its ascent. I have to say that I was a bit nervous along with the excitement. I imagined an 80 year old wooden coaster had to be pretty rough if coasters only about a decade old beat me up (I’m talking about you Wildcat!). At 80 feet up, the view of the beach and the ocean was great, but before you know it, it’s down the steep first plunge. There was a good bit of air on the drop, but the climb up the following hill feels like it might rattle you to pieces.
Lateral G-Forces Aplenty
With the Cyclone’s triple out and back layout (pictured above) I knew that there was going to be a lot of turns. What I didn’t expect was how forceful the turns would be. On pretty much every turn I was catapulted across those comfy loveseats. Of course if you ride with someone else, you’d just get pushed into the other rider. The five turns aren’t very banked at all so the lateral g-forces (the same as the ones you experience in a car when taking a turn too fast) are pretty extreme. You could hear screams on not just the hills, but also on the turns as riders were thrown to the outside edge of the trains. It was quite an unexpected thrill and it added to the ride as most of the drops were consistent with little to no airtime followed by rough climbs up the next hill.
The station operations are interesting when the train returns. It comes to a halt in the back of the station and the ride ops ask if anyone wants a re-ride in a New Yorker almost hustler kind of way. I did, so I handed them my $5 and I was able to pick my seat. This time, I moved to the front seat. I didn’t need to prove my courage and ride a pre-historic wooden coaster in the roughest seat. I’m 30. After re-riders picked their seats, the train crept forward and picked up the new riders.
Rating a Legend
The Cyclone is a tough one to rate. It’s hard to separate the actual ride from it’s reputation as landmark roller coaster. The urban atmosphere of the ride right there on the beach in Brooklyn and the old-school feel of the trains are pretty distinctive. While the airtime wasn’t stellar and it was rough at times, the exciting experience of riding a famous roller coaster and the crazy lateral g-forces bring the Cyclone to a ‘Good’ rating. If you’re a roller coaster enthusiast and you’re in New York City, I’d recommend that you head down to Coney Island and take it for a spin. It’s a prestigious ride credit and a ride you won’t likely forget. Final Rating – 7.0 (Good)
The Coney Island Cyclone is rated ‘TR’ for Traditional. It’s a 2 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale.
See more photos from the Coney Island leg of my New York City coaster trip at my Facebook page.