A kinder, gentler Cyclone

Brooklyn Daily
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The legendary Coney Island Cyclone will get a major overhaul that promises a safer, smoother, and less rickety experience — but roller coaster aficionados worry that the fix-up will take the thrills out of the 85-year-old thrill ride.

Beginning this month, workers will replace sections of the coaster’s wooden track that have been worn down by decades of heavy use — and the end result will be a coaster that rides more like a Cadillac than a Jeep, according to Tom Corsillo, of Central Amusement International, the owners of Luna Park who operates the city-owned coaster.

“It’s going to be a much smoother ride,” Corsillo told us.

But some Cyclone fans say getting banged around by the coaster is a big part of it’s appeal.

“There’s nothing more fun than riding the Cyclone and getting a few bruises,” said Josh Bauchner, who rides the Cyclone multiple times a year.

Bauchner was one of many coaster boosters who bemoaned the upgrades.

But Corsillo said the Cyclone’s faithful had nothing to worry about, claiming the Cyclone will now be safer, but still be scary — its top speed of 60 miles per hour will not be changed, and its hairpin turns that have been famous since the 1920s will not be affected by the update.

“What made the Cyclone popular is not changing,” Corsillo said.

Amusement experts we talked to were split on the upgrade’s impact on riders’ overall experience.

“The average person won’t be able to tell the difference,” said Jim Barber, a spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Organizations.

But Jason Herrera, the director of Amusement Safety Organization, said hard-core fans are in for a surprise.

“The changes will take away that shake, rattle and roll,” said Herrera, who says he’s familiar with the Cyclone experience.

The coaster’s last major upgrade came in the mid-1970s, when the city saved the ride from demolition.

The coaster has seen its share of mishaps since then. In 2007, a man died after breaking his neck on the Cyclone’s first 85-foot drop. According to Herrera, 19 riders were injured on the Cyclone in 2011 — including four terrified people who bit their tongues.

Longtime neighborhood boosters say the fix-up of the Cyclone was long overdue.

“Riders should be excited, enthusiastic and grateful,” said Dick Zigun, the man behind the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and Sideshows by the Seashore.

Borough President Markowitz also applauded the renovation — but said his famous fear of strapping himself into one of the cars won’t be abated, no mater how “safe” the ride becomes.

“I never once considered safety issues in my decision not to ride it,” said Markowitz. “It’s always a matter of feeling more secure with my two feet planted firmly on Brooklyn soil and sand — cheering on the riders with a Nathan’s hot dog in hand.”

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at
Updated 5:05 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reader feedback

joe from bronx says:
I applaud the upgrades from ownership. The comments about a "few bumps and bruises" are from the hard core, but the average citizen would end up filing suit if they were injured in any way. Luna Park is only looking after the general public's safety.
Jan. 18, 2012, 10:46 am
Allen Young from Bronx says:
Jason Herrera and his so-called Amusement Safety Organization have both been considered a "joke" in the amusement park industry. Google them to find out the real truth about them. As for his comments about the Coney Island Cyclone, they are are unfounded, only speculative, without any concrete knowledge of what's really going on. This is the same type of thing this guy is peddling to the industry for many years which has made him and his so-called "organization" a laughing stock in the industry.
Jan. 18, 2012, 11:20 am
Sam Marks from Coaster Zombies Club says:
Dan, the "ASO" is the laughing stock of the amusement park industry, they have no experience or training whatsoever and their reviews are based on their own personal visits to amusement parks. You'd be wise to avoid them in the future.

They started their Organization simply to try and pressure the state of california into CPR training for all ride operators. their proposal also included that ALL training was to be done by ASO... the state rejected the proposal...

look at their site, it's hilarious, the report on bee stings as park related!

Sam Marks
Coaster Zombies Club

PS, if you REALLY want to talk to coney experts look up Bill Galvin or Colleen Whyte they are BIG fans of the ride!
Jan. 18, 2012, 12:02 pm
Coaster Fan from Not NY says:
A coaster that leaves you banged and bruised is one that has not been maintained or one which was poorly designed to start with. The Cyclone was overdue for track work.

I have to agree with the comments on the ASO and their self proclaimed expertise.
Jan. 18, 2012, 8:31 pm
Bill Campbell from Grassy Sound, NJ says:
I fear my last REAL ride on the Cyclone was in September of 2011. When it comes to coasters, I'm not a rider who is an "average person". The Cyclone has been the Cyclone for 84 years, and for a damn good's the most amazing coaster on the planet! The name may remain but if it's "kinder, gentler", then it's 85th year will no longer be the REAL Cyclone!
Jan. 18, 2012, 10:39 pm
Dave Althoff from A far-off land called Ohio says:
When I last rode the Cyclone (2008), it was horribly rough, bouncing in all the ways a good coaster should not. The Cyclone has been in need of a good overhaul. There's a really good coaster there, but it is in such bad shape that you'd never know it. When the work is done, if everything is done right, the ride will be smoother and faster, and you'll see how a great ride is supposed to run. It will toss you from your seat on the drops, squash you into the side of the train on the turns, and do all that fun stuff it is supposed to do. But a lot of the bouncing, shaking, rattling, and pogo-sticking that is not fun at all, and merely detracts from the designed-in forces should be removed. The Cyclone can be a great ride again. Bill, I really think that if the work is all done properly, you will be pleasantly surprised when it is all done. And if the work is being done by the crew that did some emergency structural work on it a year ago, then I think we can be sure the work will be done right.
Jan. 21, 2012, 5:15 pm
Chuck from Massapequa says:
Last June (2011) I rode the Cyclone for the first time in since 1960. Yep it's true , people in their 60's ride coasters. Now I didn't remember from years ago it being as rough and getting banged around as much as my June ride but I'll say that I'm sure glad I got a chance to ride it in it's original or close to original set up . I guess we should all be thankful that it wasn't taken down in the 70's. So, do a good job in the revamp of this Coney Island original and see you this summer for another go.
Jan. 25, 2012, 10:26 pm

Comments closed.

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