I don’t know the name of the roller coaster at Seaside Heights, NJ that was washed to sea by Hurricane Sandy last week, but Brian Thompson’s image of the scene – framed by the storm-tossed timbers from the boardwalk itself – has been permanently etched onto my brain. I’ve spent a lot of time at boardwalk amusement parks and piers over the years, so, as a tribute to Seaside Heights, Asbury Park, Keansburg, and boardwalks elsewhere, my first Thursday 13 in months is a list of my favorites:
- The Galaxy, Asbury Park, NJ: The first coaster I ever encountered, long since dismantled, but living on in my memory.
- The Giant Dipper, Santa Cruz, CA: One of the last remaining wooden roller coasters still in operation. The front gives the best view of the water, the back gives the joltiest ride.
- The Wildcat, Keansburg, NJ: Modern-ish, with corkscrews and such, but amazing night lighting.
- The Giant Dipper, Belmont Park (San Diego), CA: Another version of the coaster at Santa Cruz, further down the coast. Built in 1925 and recently restored.
- The Hurricane, Santa Cruz, CA: This coaster was the scarier of the two at Santa Cruz’s boardwalk, but 2012 was it’s last year in operation. It’s being replaced in 2013 by a spinning coaster called the Undertow.
- The Great White, Wildwood, NJ: Another wooden coaster, though technically it’s wood and steel. Classic coaster.
- The Cyclone, Luna Park, Coney Island, NY: Probably the most iconic boardwalk roller coaster in American history.
- Galaxi Coaster, Palace Playland, Portland, ME: Italian made steel coaster with a minimum height requirement of 42 inches even if you’re riding with a parent.
- Boardwalk Bullet, Kemah Boardwalk, Galveston, TX: A classic wooden coaster in a warm-weather locale. Everything really is bigger in Texas.
- Rolling Thunder, Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ: Okay, technically, this isn’t a boardwalk coaster, but it’s in New Jersey, so I’m counting it because it was the first BIG coaster I ever rode.
- The Swamp Fox, Family Kingdom, Myrtle Beach, SC: Another classic wooden coaster (you find these a lot at boardwalks). I’ve not been on this one; it’s on my list.
- Looping Star, Ocean City, MD: Another on my list of must-do’s, this one’s in Maryland, and looks awesome.
- The West Coaster, Pacific Park, Santa Monica, CA: This is the only seaside coaster in LA, and it’s as iconic as the coasters in Asbury Park and Coney Island to folks from the left coast. If you remember the opening of Three’s Company you know this coaster.
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