The improbably named Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel can be found within a public park in Queens, about twenty minutes by road from JFK Airport. The site has some free parking available, though as per usual in New York demand far exceeds supply; we had to drive around the area for twenty minutes before we located a spot in a side road across from the hideous structure that represents the Terrace on the Park event venue.
A few minutes walk brought us to the Corona Cobra Coaster (#2069), a small ride that once operated at a Jeepers FEC in Southfield, Michigan. There was no issue at all with adults riding, though we were required to sit in separate cars as is normal for this style of coaster. After disembarking, we enjoyed an extremely brief ride on the classic Carousel, followed by a somewhat longer one after the operator helped a very upset child to disembark.
Luna Park NYC
19th July 2014
We parked our rental car in a lot across the street from the MCU Park Stadium and walked down the street to Luna Park NYC. It quickly became apparent that the shiny new roller coaster we had travelled for was in an advanced stage of non-functionality, with several wheels resting on the ground and a number of engineers examining a car on the brake run. Rather than wait around, we caught a quick lap on the Circus Coaster (#2070) before boarding the "D" train into Manhattan.
19th July 2014
An hour later we arrived at Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park, the second park of the day with a ridiculously verbose name. The place was absolutely heaving with people despite the overcast weather, to the point that we had to queue almost ten minutes for our admission ticket. Once inside the park, we had to queue again to ride the Mini Mouse (#2071), but in due course we were able to tick off a nicely painted example of the smallest member of the Zamperla coaster family.
Luna Park NYC
19th July 2014
The skies had cleared somewhat by the time we arrived back at Luna Park, giving us an opportunity to take a few photos in the early evening light. Once satisfied, we returned to our car to store all personal possessions before joining the brief queue for Cyclone. Long term readers of my diaries will be aware that my only other ride on this famous coaster was memorable for the wrong reasons, though I was somewhat encouraged today by obvious signs of new track.
Cyclone has station signage featuring instructions in English, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese, as well as clear diagrams indicating that passengers should not rest their heads on the lap bars. Only the smallest guests would have a chance of doing this, as the cars are extremely cramped; extensive padding, including a comfortable knee pad, left me absolutely wedged in place with no room to move at all.
Both of us had braced for impact as we crested the top of the lift hill, but to our surprise, this proved entirely unnecessary, with the train negotiating the rails with the finesse typical of a well-maintained wood coaster. Most of the layout continued in the same vein, with the exception of the final drop before the station, though even that wasn't as awful as I remembered. That being said, fixing the Cyclone is like locking up Rolf Harris; you may have prevented the abuse from continuing, but you can't fix those that have been damaged and scarred by its actions of its past!
Megan wanted to ride the B&B Carousell found at the end of the boardwalk. The horse I was on made a distinctive mechanical clunk each time it went up or down, but other than that the experience wasn't memorable for me.
We'd resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to miss Thunderbolt (#2072) today, and had begun our journey back to the car with junk food in hand when we saw a train climbing the ride lift hill. The distinctive sound of an excited scream indicated that this was no empty test run, and sure enough a queue had begun to form at the ride entrance. The waiting area for the ride carries clear signage describing it as a single rider coaster, and warns that groups will NOT be seated together (park emphasis, not mine). This is an unfortunate policy on a coaster that costs ten dollars per ride, but arguably a necessary one given very limited throughput and odd trains that seat nine passengers in three rows of three. Guests are secured using a bizarre design of lap bar that tilts back and forward during the ride, supplemented by shoulder straps that serve no obvious purpose, as they do not touch the body and in fact flap loose.
The ride has a number of major positives, including an impressively compact layout and a fabulous airtime hill roughly half way around the course. Unfortunately, it falls down due to the usual achilles heel for Zamperla coasters; some decidedly rough track work and a definite rattle throughout the course. The lack of rigid overhead restraints meant that the ride was still fun, but better track work would have made it an awful lot better.
One small warning for enthusiasts; while Luna Park offers unlimited wristbands at certain times of day, these do not include use of the six rides considered to be "extreme" (including Cyclone and Thunderbolt) or the B&B Carousell. Those wanting to marathon on either coaster should consider either remortgaging their homes or visiting during a coaster enthusiast event.