2007…the (EDIT: second to) last opening day of Astroland (located in Coney Island, NYC.) It was an overcast day with temps in the 50s with a chance of rain. I departed for Coney Island at around 10:00am; It took about 50 minutes and 6 bucks to get to my end destination. Traffic was pretty good being fairly early on a Sunday. I rolled down Surf Ave past all the attractions and parked my car past the Aquarium.I was to meet a bunch of people from the website Themeparkcritic.com (TPC) in front of the Cyclone, so I headed over there to find a little line of people waiting to be the first riders. I didn’t see anyone I recognized so I called one of the people only for the call to be unanswered. Oh great! I milled around for about 30-40 minutes and watched some of the opening day festivities. At one point an entire marching band played on the platform of the Cyclone. Soon I met up with three TPC members; apparently I was the first there when I thought I had gotten there a bit late!
The first order of business was to get some pay one price wristbands available to ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) members and their guests. It was $12.99 for the wristband, a steal really. Since the Cyclone still had a line protruding from the entrance, the 4 of us decided to hit some flatrides at Astroland.
The first ride was the ever infamous Breakdance (aka the Million Dollar Breakdance,) and if I heard the ride-op correctly, TPC member ‘Cyclonic’ and I were the first patrons to ride it for the season. The whole ride lasted for what seemed to be 4 minutes and the ride-op didn’t hold back one bit. Astroland’s Breakdance is probably the fastest run Breakdance in the US; you would have to go to a traveling kirmes in Europe to find a better one. The next ride was Dante’s Inferno, a darkride found at a few amusement parks (namely Morey’s Piers.) It was OK I guess, however it wasn’t as good as the recently renovated Morey’s version. Something I liked about this one was that, unlike some spook houses I’ve been on, it was hard to tell where the prop was due to the pitch blackness inside and the fact that the sensors were pretty well hidden. I was surprised that there were no loud buzzers or sirens in this spook house.
Next we all went on the Top Spin, a Huss Top Spin 2 model. This particular Top Spin is operated manually (as opposed to a preset cycle) and has been known to give some really badass cycles. One of the most notable achievements done by the ride-ops of this particular Top Spin was getting the gondola to flip 14 (or maybe even more) times in a row. Our ride wasn’t of the same caliber as some videos I’ve seen but was still better than many Top Spins in the US. The ride cycle consisted of a few loops with a lot of hangtime before the ride-op pulled off about 5 consecutive flips which were very forceful. After the ride we briefly met up some more TPC’ers.
Next up was the Cyclone; our wristbands allowed 4 rides on this classic coaster. The line was only like 10 minutes and we all rode near the middle on 2 separate runs due to re-riders taking our seat. The Cyclone was running great; they must have greased the heck out of that thing. I had to take the backpack that I brought along on the ride so I wrapped it around my arm and made very sure that it wasn’t going anywhere…I know how the Cyclone is. If anyone goes on the Cyclone expecting it to be a little old coaster…well they will be completely suprised. The Cyclone is absolutely no holds barred all the way through; there’s a reason for all the padding around the seat! After our ride we met up with one more TPC member to complete our group. (for all the people visiting from TPC, the member lineup was: adriahna, Cyclonic, Hercules, hrrytraver, the Timberman/clan and me Horizons12.)
With the whole gang there, we all proceeded down to the El Dorado Auto Scooters, an independently operated bumper car ride that proclaims “Bump your Ass Off” at the entrance. These bumper cars are located on the ground floor of a brownstone building and connect to an arcade. These bumper cars also feature loud music and a ton of flashing lights and stobes. I dealt out and received quite a few good hits over the course of the ride. The handling of these cars were great I have to add. Upon exiting through the arcade, we found that it was raining out. For the rest of the day there were off an on showers and it seemed to get much colder.
Next we all headed up to the boardwalk and checked out a few spots. One of our stops included a shop selling Cyclone and Coney Island shirts; all of the shirts were in crazy sizes like XXL or XXXXL. After a bit of picking around some of the group found reasonably sized shirts. Afterwards we all headed over to the independently operated Zipper and got ready to take a spin on possibly the most insane Zipper ever according to some. Unfortunately it wasn’t running in top form that day and we got just a sub-par ride. It’s a nicely kept Zipper however, despite my remembrances of it as a run down rust bucket. We then headed over to the original Nathans for some chow. We all sat outside and ate as a marching band warmed up on the patio. At first I thought they were actually playing some kind of freeform music before they all got together and started to play for real.
Most of our group then went over to the Cyclone for some more rides. I didn’t sit in the back but I did do a second to last seat ride and really got tossed around as I was single riding there. The first hill on the Cyclone launches riders off the seat near the back as well does the camelback near the midpoint of the ride. We then headed over to the Wonder Wheel where we scrambled aboard one of the “swinging cars” just before Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park closed. My windbreaker came in handy here as it was a bit chilly and definitely windy aboard the landmark ferris wheel.
Afterwards we got a group photo and headed back to the Cyclone to use up our remaining rides. Some people from the group left at that point and the original four of us attempted to get on the Breakdance but we got there just a bit too late to get aboard the last ride. After everyone left, I hung around for about 20-30 minutes longer to get some pictures from the boardwalk. I walked down towards the Parachute Jump and the pier among other things as I took in the ocean setting while it rained slightly. I don’t know about anyone else but I love being at the shore while it’s raining. I left at around 6 and paid the $9.00 extortion to get across the Verrazano again; next time I’m taking the trains in.
Astroland managed to re-open for the 2008 season, having it’s opening on March 16th; I unfortunately missed the opening day. However I did pay my last respects to the park on the Friday before it closed for good.