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.
That image hit me too and I got a chill just now reading this. I grew up in an amusement park beach town and I know the sense of place and memory (sights, sounds, tastes etc) that it creates. I wrote about some of the Nantasket Beach Paragon Park rides here: http://www.looseleafnotes.com/wp/2005/08/paragon-park/
I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a boardwalk coaster, just the landlocked ones at various theme parks around the US. I reckon the view might make it even more fun, though. :)
talk about a ride. the header design changed while I’m visiting.
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Wow, the picture says a lot. Thanks.
Never been to a boardwalk park. but I am lucky to live near Cedar Point which has the largest collection of roller coasters in the country. I like to take a day off and go ride them all.
The coasters I grew up on are gone: The Shooting Star at Lakeside Amusement Park in Salem, VA and Hurricane: Category 5 at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. The first went out in a flood in 1985 and the second was destroyed in 2006 – not for weather for but for development.
That is heartbreaking to see. How many of these got hit?
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I grew up a 10 minute ride from what is now a Six Flags Park in Agawam, MA; (not a coastal park, but it was on the west bank of the Connecticut River. It was just a rinky-dink amusement park back then called Riverside Park, but it had a fairly wicked wooden coaster that made the price of admission worth every penny. Those were the days. Thanks for the memories.
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