The Cyclone Still Has Enough Tricks Up Its Sleeve to Offer a Thrilling RideThe Cyclone at Coney Island
As I exited the subway station at the far end of the line, I could tell that the ocean was nearby. I didn’t know exactly where the Cyclone was located, but one glance down Surf Avenue and there it was. A tall rectangular electric sign right on the corner of the street brought a smile to my face. I had driven to the airport, flown, ridden a bus, a subway, and walked, and now I was minutes away from the hallowed ground that is Coney Island and a ride on the legendary Cyclone.

There’s no real amusement park gate or archway proclaiming that you’ve arrived at a historic landmark. Just a gated entranceway that held the ticket booth. Right at noon, they opened the bars surrounding the ticket booth and I bought my ticket for one ride for $8. I took a short walk around the corner and there was the station. An attendant took my ticket, I dropped off my backpack, and picked a seat.

The Cyclone’s single train consisted of three cars with three benches each. For my first ride I took the first bench of the Cyclone's Trainmiddle car. The seats were like padded, comfy loveseats. There was no seat divider and one enormous lap bar. The bar was a thick, padded and was the length of the entire seat. The lap bar made the ride very snug and reminded me of being secured into some kind of torture device. On one hand, I knew that there was no chance I was going to fly off of the train. But, on the other hand, I knew that there were likely a lot of people who just wouldn’t be able to fit. There was a sign in the station that stated: ‘Larger Riders Might Not Be Able to Ride, If So We’ll Gladly Refund Your Money’.

As with other roller coasters from the 1920’s, the Cyclone’s station was kind of tilted forward and trains Cyclone's Stationwere dispatched via a huge lever. When everyone was trapped, I mean strapped in, the ride op pulled the big lever and the train crept out of the station. The train took an immediate right turn and began its ascent. I have to say that I was a bit nervous along with the excitement. I imagined an 80 year old wooden coaster had to be pretty rough if coasters only about a decade old beat me up (I’m talking about you Wildcat!). At 80 feet up, the view of the beach and the ocean was great, but before you know it, it’s down the steep first plunge. There was a good bit of air on the drop, but the climb up the following hill feels like it might rattle you to pieces.

Overhead View of The Cyclone at Coney Island

Lateral G-Forces Aplenty
With the Cyclone’s triple out and back layout (pictured above) I knew that there was going to be a lot of turns. What I didn’t expect was how forceful the turns would be. On pretty much every turn I was catapulted across those comfy loveseats. Of course if you ride with someone else, you’d just get pushed into the other rider. The five turns aren’t very banked at all so the lateral g-forces (the same as the ones you experience in a car when taking a turn too fast) are Me in front of the Cyclonepretty extreme. You could hear screams on not just the hills, but also on the turns as riders were thrown to the outside edge of the trains. It was quite an unexpected thrill and it added to the ride as most of the drops were consistent with little to no airtime followed by rough climbs up the next hill.

The station operations are interesting when the train returns. It comes to a halt in the back of the station and the ride ops ask if anyone wants a re-ride in a New Yorker almost hustler kind of way. I did, so I handed them my $5 and I was able to pick my seat. This time, I moved to the front seat. I didn’t need to prove my courage and ride a pre-historic wooden coaster in the roughest seat. I’m 30. After re-riders picked their seats, the train crept forward and picked up the new riders.

Rating a Legend
The Cyclone is a tough one to rate. It’s hard to separate the actual ride from it’s reputation as landmark roller coaster. The urban atmosphere of the ride right there on the beach in Brooklyn and the old-school feel of the trains are pretty distinctive. While the airtime wasn’t stellar and it was rough at times, the exciting experience of riding a famous roller Good Roller Coaster Reviewscoaster and the crazy lateral g-forces bring the Cyclone to a ‘Good’ rating. If you’re a roller coaster enthusiast and you’re in New York City, I’d recommend that you head down to Coney Island and take it for a spin. It’s a prestigious ride credit and a ride you won’t likely forget. Final Rating – 7.0 (Good)

Traditional Roller Coasters - Fun For AllThe Coney Island Cyclone is rated ‘TR’ for Traditional. It’s a 2 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale.

See more photos from the Coney Island leg of my New York City coaster trip at my Facebook page.

What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden the original Cyclone at Coney Island? What’d you think? Leave a comment below. Photo 2 courtesy of Negative-G. Photo 4 courtesy of RCDB.

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

21 Responses

  1. TheDoD3

    Nice review Joel, it sums up this ride very well. Good thinking not choosing the back seat as well; you sort of have to work up to that one on this coaster. Since the cars are so long, the back seat feels like riding a catapult that snaps foward on every drop!

  2. Charles Nungester

    Great accurate review. One slight correction is the trains are Four Benchers. 🙂

    • Quil

      most would probably do two though, if threes a sqeeze i don`t want to kno what four is… wait a sec., do you mean four benches per car or four people per bench?

  3. airtime

    Sorry to swear in church, but IMO this venerated ride is just far too rough to be enjoyable. Yes, it IS crazy out of control, but be ready to pay for a CAT scan afterward to make sure you haven't suffered a subdural hematoma. If you are up for violence to your brain, go for it. (I have 72 woodies on my track record. This is one I will NEVER, EVER ride again. I simply have too much to live for.)

    • The Coaster Critic

      Wow. I'm surprised that you found it that rough. Although, I did admit that I was 'too old' to even attempt it in the back seat. I just new that I'd get beat up back there, but that's nothing new for woodies. I'd say Cyclone @ SFNE and Wildcat @ Hersheypark (when I rode it) were both a good bit rougher. I'd be interested to hear what other woodies you've found nearly as rough as the Coney Island Cyclone.

      • Judy P in Pgh

        How do they compare to Gwazi or Georgia Cyclone? They were the two roughest woodies I have ridden (out of 60). Mean Streak and Son of Beast are rough, but tolerable if you choose your seat wisely.

      • Quil

        ROAR at Six Flags America. My head still hurt three days later.

      • Trent

        Those two are rough but the roughest one that I have been on is the Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (OUCH)

    • CoasterFreak118

      i think you're over reacting i mean you've got to remember that its 84 years old

  4. CoasterFreak118

    The Coney Island Cyclone is truely one of the greatest coasters of all time. Its a real thrill with steep drops and tight turns. I've been on it six times. It is definatly worth the overpriced eight dollars. It is a must ride for all coaster enthusiasts and all who go to Coney Island

  5. Joshua Ross-Waldman

    I live within 30 minutes of this baby and LOVE IT! Even my wife who hates wooden coasters has ridden this back to back. The back seat isn't as bad as you'd think, vey enjoyable catapult sensation. The front is also fantastic. This is a classic that lives up to the hype. What gets me is that if it's this good to someone who started riding coasters in the 80's, it must have been INSANE for people when it first arrived!

  6. Sara

    I rode it just to say I rode it and I have to say it was better than I had anticipated. Almost thought about giving it another go but my wallet decided against that.

  7. Joe G

    I lived in NYC for years and have been to Coney Island many times but never ride the Cylone. I used to ride everything at 6 Flags Great Adventure (not too far from there) but Coney Island always just struck me as filthy and overpriced. The 'amusement park' in which the ride is located has changed hands and names and operators so many times over the years I have no idea what it's 'official location' is called now (it used to be "Astroland" and "Playland" and what not) but I think it's may be owned by the city now (there was talk about tearing it down some years back but public outrage saved it). They was a lot of talk of 'revitalizing'' Coney Island years ago but I don't think they ever followed through on that.

    Any way, despite it's reputation as a family friendly fun place, in my experience Coney Island was always a very sleazy, dirty place. I think tourists see every landmark in NYC through that 'tourist filter' that filters out the grime and sleaze the locals recognize. To them it's a sweet nostslgia laden wonder land.

    And with that rant behind me, I will say that now having gotten back into coasters, I feel like I must ride the filthy old beast just to get the 'credit'. I'm a bit apprehensive about it though because it's bigger, badder clone in Georgia was the single most painful coaster I've ever ridden (I literally went to see a neurologist afterwards, it banged my head up so bad). And NO, I have not and will not ever ride the notorios SFOG "Ninja". That hideous contraption was actually originally in a sleazt bush league boardwalk amusement park in Wildwood, NJ; that's why it's so crappy. SFOG must've gotten a real good deal on it. It's not really suitable for a 'real' theme park.

    But I digress…

    • @mattmcirvin and Google Maps claim the area once called Astroland is now named Luna Park, though it's not in the same place as the historic Luna Park. RCDB claims that the Cyclone is technically run under the Astroland name even though Astroland proper doesn't exist, but that is probably out of date.

      To the west of that is Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, and to the west of that is Scream Zone, which is owned by Zamperla. And there seems to be a bunch of other stuff operated by other entities.

      Coney Island is very confusing.

      • CoasterCritic

        The area has been revitalized thanks to Luna Park/Scream Zone. When I went in '09 there was only the Cyclone as far as roller coasters go. Now there are four more I think.

  8. Bobbie

    I gave this high marks on my own blog because the coaster really rocks and is in my opinion superior to many more modern wooden coasters. I would have to add, however, that the roughness of the ride cannot be overemphasized. From the front seat it was OK but from the 4th row, brutally painful. It took me a full month to recover from the injuries I sustained on the Cyclone. My left arm was so badly bruised and inflamed that I could not open or close a door with my left hand for several days after the incident. I would ride it again only if I knew that I could be guaranteed of getting in the front. I did hear that over 200 feet of track had been replaced this year; whether that makes a difference in the roughness I don't know; it would be nice if it did.


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