86’d Rides Vol.1: Tumbler

I don’t know what it is but I find defunct rides extremely interesting. Maybe it’s because you will never, ever get to experience the ride first hand. I’m not talking about any old defunct rides though, I’m talking about ones that were axed for a number of reasons. Perhaps the ride was too ambitious for its time. Perhaps it was due to an unfortunate accident. Maybe it was 86’d thanks to giving riders an ass whoopin’! In this series, we’re going to take a look at some of these strange, wild, or mysterious rides of the past starting with a beast of late 60s ingenuity.

Chance Rides are well known for producing a plethora of flatrides. In the 60s and 70s, Chance was akin to the modern day KMG or Technical Park in that they were making some pretty unique and thrilling rides. Zipper is probably one of the most famous rides to carry the Chance branding. Other rides like Sky Diver, Turbo, and later on Chaos also fit the bill for being wildly different compared to what was offered at the time. The apex of Chance’s innovation, or rather their culmination of mad scientist experimentation, came with a ride dubbed Tumbler.

In the simplest description possible, Tumbler was essentially two Sky Diver looking wheels affixed to a revolving boom. It’s rumored that the idea for Chaos came about by slapping a Zipper pod onto a Round Up. It’s hard to pass up the thought that Tumbler was possibly designed under a similar circumstance.

Like most Chance rides of the 60s and 70s, Tumbler had a very no-frills look about it. The center boom was made up of a bulky frame made up of metal lattice supports. I’m not quite sure what turned the hub originally, but sometime during its life it was fitted with several tire drives. Got to keep up with all the…uh, cutting edge technology, right?  Two supports on either side  held up the ride and  looked a lot like Sky Diver’s X style supports.

The wheels, while similar looking to Sky Diver, weren’t  exactly the same. They seem to be slightly smaller with no light decorations in between each pod. They did manage to squeeze in 20 pods per wheel, for a grand total of 80 riders per cycle! The capacity coupled with size seemed to indicate that the ride was tailor made for amusement parks with a need for high capacity rides. Chance has also made other high capacity, one-off attractions in the past, namely  Super Sidewinder at Six Flags Great Adventure, a 144 passenger Scrambler type ride.

Tumbler in Coney IslandTo the left is a photo of Tumbler in Coney Island. The image was salvaged from Webshots (an image host that changed format and deleted tons of content) thanks to the trusty Internet Archive. It was posted by a user named Rockowheel and a million thanks goes to him/her for uploading this extremely rare photo. Here’s the archive link


With the combination of wheel motion, hub motion and horizontal  rotation of the pods, Tumbler must have seriously lived up to its name. The pods were similar, if not the same ones seen on a Sky Diver ride complete with steering wheel to rotate the pod. However, a rider that posted to the Coney Island Message Boards noted that the ride spun so fast that turning the steering wheel was mostly a fruitless endeavor. “Once it started rotating towards the top, there was no chance you were holding on to the wheel – the G force was so strong it was ripped out of your hands.”

Chance didn’t produce many of these rides; in fact, only one was produced. In 1968, Tumbler was installed at Six Flags over Georgia and went under the name Wheel Burrow. It was then moved to Rye Playland around 1972 before landing in Coney Island. After its tenure in Coney Island, the ride was likely scrapped. It’s a shame but not too surprising either. The ride needed a huge amount of space and a place that could make good use of that 80 person capacity. On top of that, the 80s saw manufacturers like Huss starting to produce a more polished brand of thrill rides. Even though Tumbler was likely safe, its wild demeanor combined with dated appearance would have likely turned some people away.

There is nothing like Tumbler today. Appearance-wise, the closest thing we have to Tumbler are Evolution rides made by Nauta Bussink. While Evolution is a thrilling and visually dominating ride, Tumbler had those two attributes coupled with a completely out of control motion thanks to the three rotations served up by the ride. As wild as a ride like Zipper could be, I’d imagine a ride on Tumbler could make Zipper seem like a Ferris Wheel.

Here’s a short, three photo gallery of Tumbler. The first two are when it was at the Chance factory, and the last is the installation at Six Flags over Georgia. Thanks to 2for2true for the uploads!

DoD3 reader llacb47 also posted a video of Six Flags Over Georgia featuring a short segment of Tumbler in action.



  • MJ says:

    looks like it would be fun

    • DoD3Brian says:

      Yeah it doesn’t look too bad. A smaller version of this ride could fly today, I bet. Actually, after seeing some crazy Russian built rides on YT, I wouldn’t doubt there’s already something like it floating around!

    • Keith says:

      It was ! I got to experience the Tumbler at Rye
      Playland in the 70’s ! Words can’t describe how
      Much fun it was, and how scary ! It’s sad that Coney
      Island let this ride rust away after it was disesembled
      Chance should make a new Tumbler so everyone
      can enjoy it !

  • garryg says:

    I remember my first trip to Coney Island in 1973….I was 14. I am a native NY’er and during this period CI was considered dirty and dangerous, especially at night. I went one night with my brother and nephew, and we went on The Bobsled…I believe it was the last year this ride was open. It was a open wooden curved track and scary at night. I remember seeing the Tumbler and thought it was a very unusual looking ride. I remember the top wheel continued to turn while the one on the bottom loaded. The pods appeared to be a bit smaller and more squared than the Sky Diver pods,. I can’t say I remember seeing the ride run it’s cycle, just the load up. Years later (77?) when I returned to Coney, it seemed the center portion of the ride (everything but the 2 wheels containing the actual seats) including the yellow wheels that were on the sides and the blue center double cone shaped column were rusting in a heap next to the also abandoned Wild Mouse ride. The Mouse actually had vegetation growing throughout it….That wasn’t unusual for CI during this period…there were literally like 6 city blocks of rides, functioning ones standing alongside ones that were in disrepair and long out of service. When I first started driving I would head there (’77-’81) ….Some of the rides looked downright dangerous…The Thunderbolt roller coaster was running and looking very ill.. The Tornado coaster had experienced a fire, and was still standing….
    There were many different Himalaya type rides on the different blocks.
    A old Himalaya with the painted red letters on the front of the canopy, the legendary Polar Express (Still operating?) that seemed to have wooden cars and they faced towards the right, and the track appeared to have steeper banks, Lot’s of people enjoying the sound system on this ride and dancing (doing the Robot!) in the street….It seemed like every ride op was playing Trans Europe Express…a Super Cat that was a Caterpillar, a Cortina Bob in the Steeplechase section where you had in line seating in metallic jewel toned seats, and was very uncomfortable when the ride went fast- you felt like you were being thrown out sideways, and the newest and rumored to be the fastest Music Express down by the Cyclone in Astroland.
    When I returned to CI after a long absence in 2000, it was nice to see the area had been cleaned up significantly.

    • DoD3Brian says:

      Awesome post! Coney has definitely been cleaned up since things hit a low in the late 80s/early 90s. Maybe a little too cleaned up with all of these polished parks going up. Polar Express is indeed still going strong and I believe is the only Himalaya in Coney currently. If I remember correctly, the Musik Express that Astroland had prior to the park’s closure was leased from Strates Shows. Those rumors of it being the fastest were probably true as Strates still runs that thing at an incredible speed!

  • llacb47 says:


    One of my fellow Six Flags Over Georgia fans has posted a video of Six Flags c. 1969.
    It has the Chance Tumbler in it.
    Chance Tumbler segment starts at 8:41, best viewed in HD.
    *This is NOT my video.*

    • DoD3Brian says:

      Oh man, that is an awesome video! Looks like there’s even a bit of an on-ride video at the beginning. Thanks for sharing!

    • 2for2true says:

      What a great video! To my knowledge, that’s the only film I’ve ever seen on the Wheel Burrow (a.k.a., the Tumbler). What memories!!

  • Buddy B. says:

    I rode that ride in 1968 — I have been to many fairs- amusement parks many times through the years. Six flags over Ga. 20 plus times Walt Disney World opening year and 15 plus times though the years. I was 10 years old when I rode the Wheel Burrow. The most terrifying ride I have ever been on. Completely out of control spinning. When you started going up it was impossible to hold the steering wheel therefor you spun out of control almost the whole ride except when they were unloading the other wheel then the horror continued until you got to the bottom. Banging all
    around in that cage the whole time. Look at the wire mesh that is industrial grade. But hey, my wife and I are headed Six Flaggs today to ride the rides. But every time I walk though the Lick Skillet area and look to the right where that thing was the memories of that one ride always come back. I have been over it since 5 minutes after I regained my senses after getting it THE WHEEL BURROW. My description of the ride if mild compared to many others I have heard.

    • Keith Benson says:

      I also got to ride the Tumbler, at Playland
      Rye NY, and there will never be anything
      That can compare to this amazing ride.
      I am so glad that I was fortunate to have
      Had that experience , and I’m glad
      that there are other people out there,
      That shared that same experience .
      In a way, it makes us privileged !
      It’s sad that the Tumbler isn’t
      around anymore. The last actual
      Photos of the Tumbler were taken
      At Coney Island, after the ride was
      Dismantled, and left on the ground
      to rust away ! I wish Chance would
      Bring this ride back, so all
      Future generations can have the same
      Experience . RIP Tumbler , you will
      always be in our memories.

  • Tim Kelly says:

    I worked the Tumbler at Rye Playland in 1972. This is a true story. 4th of July. A guy named Ralph (I think) was the operator, I was working the deck. A hydraulic hose let go in the booth and sprayed fluid everywhere and the ride stopped with both wheels full of people. We were a bunch of kids. The owner wasn’t in the park but they got in touch with him and he was going to come with the new hose. In the meantime, there is a line a mile long who we have to tell the ride is closed so they are angry. We got the people off the bottom wheel, but the folks were still stuck up top. Only one thing to do. Release the brakes and let them go. Man, that wheel came down and just kept going almost all the way back to the top. People were screaming and then it went backwards and past the deck and up the other side and back and forth like a pendulum until it stopped and we got the people off. Wallets, purses, bodily fluids falling from the wheel. We were scared to death at the time, especially when it sped past the deck on its way, but it is one of the craziest things I ever saw. The owner got there about 7 PM, put in a new hose and refilled the hydraulic fluid and we were back up before the day was out. Just another day at work LOL.

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