Trip Report: AJ's Epic Theme Park Summer-Part 2 (Coney Island)

Edited: September 23, 2014, 6:50 PM

If you have not yet read part 1, click here to read my report from Cedar Point.

Part 2: Coney Island & More-July 24th, 2014

July 24th was the official start date for the TPR Mini New Hotness trip. The tour didn't start until 4:30 P.M., but many participants (including our group of five) chose to arrive early and spend the day at Coney Island (the Cincinnati one...New York's famous Coney Island comes later). This meant we had to be at Cincinnati airport by noon, roughly four hours away. We left Sandusky around 7 A.M., and even with a few GPS issues we made it to the airport a little after 11 A.M. There was already a small group of TPR members gathered in baggage claim, and slowly the group grew to somewhere around 20 people. Robb arrived early to help with getting everyone organized, and at noon the bus pulled up with the 20-something that had spent Wednesday night in Cincinnati. Elissa came inside, took roll to make sure everyone was there (I think everyone made it, though it's possible one didn't), then we all got on the bus and headed to Coney Island.

Coney Island

Coney Island is not a park I ever expected I would visit. I know the park has a lot of history behind it, but the current park is only a shadow of what it once was.

Walking around the park, you can definitely tell that the place has been there for a long time. Although the park does still have some historical attractions, most of the rides now are of the carnival variety. The park itself is a pretty good size, as there is more than just rides here.

As part of the bonus day, we were given about 3 hours to explore the park, which was more than enough time to hit the few noteworthy rides. We also had a group lunch at the park, the first of a seemingly endless series of hot dogs and fried chicken. This one wasn't bad, but they did get better later on. For those not familiar with a TPR trip, this was a nice little introduction.

As far as the ride department at Coney Island is concerned, the park has three notable attractions. First off is the Python, Coney Island's only roller coaster.

Python is a D.P.V. Rides Family Coaster or, in other terms, a knock-off Zyklon. It was not good. I heard this ride broke someone's rib on the 2007 Midwest Tour (TPR's previous visit to the park), and I can definitely see why. The ride gets a D- from me, and was the worst non-kiddie coaster I rode on the trip.

Coney Island's second notable ride is the Rock-o-Plane.

To a casual observer, the Rock-o-Plane looks just like a Ferris Wheel, but the ride is much more intense. Using a locking mechanism inside the cages and some muscle as necessary, skilled riders can get the car to do a 360 degree flip. Without a doubt, this was my favorite ride at the park.

The only other notable ride at Coney Island is Tempest, an old-school carnival ride.

This attraction is a little difficult to describe: it has cars that spin like a teacup ride, moves like a scrambler, and is on an incline. It wasn't the greatest ride ever, and due to the operator having some difficulty the loading/unloading cycle took some time, but I'm still glad I rode the ride.

In addition to these, I also did the Ferris Wheel and a kiddie drop tower. The most interesting of the remaining rides was Wipeout, a ride with the goal of inverting riders as much as possible (not my thing).

Overall, Coney Island wasn't a bad park, but I have serious doubts that I'll ever go back. There just isn't a compelling reason to return to the park. Of course, if I was traveling with someone else who wanted to visit, I wouldn't mind stopping by again (though I'd pass on Python), I just have no reason to return myself.

After leaving Coney Island, we headed back to the airport to pick up the small number of participants who opted out of Coney Island, then headed off to dinner at Carrabba's. Well, we thought we were going to Carrabba's, but instead we ended up at...

Stricker's Grove

I've known about Stricker's Grove for as long as I've cared about theme parks, and although I've wanted to check the place out for some time I'd somewhat written the park off as it is only open a couple days per year (used to be two but they've now expanded to four). The rest of the time, Stricker's Grove is used as a private picnic park for company and group picnics.On this particular day, there was a picnic by a church group going on, but thanks to a generous donation by Robb and Elissa we were granted admittance to the park during the event.

We arrived about 45 minutes before the event was scheduled to start, so everyone hung out in the picnic area and/or took pictures of the place. Once the gates opened, we were given an hour to get the two credits, ride anything else we wanted to ride, and get back to the bus. This was pretty easy as Stricker's is a tiny park and almost all the rides are typical flat rides. I rode both of the coasters and then just spent the rest of my time getting a couple more rides on Tornado.

Stricker's Grove's two coasters are both wooden coasters built by the park's former owner, Ralph Stricker (his daughter now runs the park).

The first coaster, Tornado, was built over the course of four years (1990-1993) and based on blueprints from the Rocky Glen Park Comet. This was actually a decent ride with a few fun drops and one or two airtime moments. Nothing crazy, but a perfect coaster for families. C+

The park's second coaster, Teddy Bear, used the blueprints of the Coney Island Teddy Bear and opened in 1996. This was a fun junior woodie, and even though it is my least favorite wooden coaster I'd still pick this over about 20% of the steel coasters I've ridden. D

Stricker's Grove was a nice park that would be fun to spend a couple hours at, but it's nothing more than the picnic park it's designed to be. The whole place does seem like it was built in the middle of someone's farm, and I can't imagine it can handle more than 300-400 people at a time very well. If you happen to be in Cincinnati on one of the park's public days, I definitely recommend stopping by, but I wouldn't alter my trip just to visit the park. I will say I enjoyed this park more than Coney Island, however, even though there are fewer rides.

Once we left Stricker's Grove, we headed off to our promised dinner at Carrabba's. I don't know what it was, but I didn't enjoy this particular Carrabba's experience as much as usual. It was still a nice dinner and a good time to get to know everyone, as this trip had a lot of new faces for me. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, Robb distributed TPR trip bags, shirts, and itineraries, Elissa gave out the room keys, I met my roommate (Evan), and then we went up to the room. The next day at Kings Island promised not only a very full day, but an early morning and very late night, so everyone wanted to be well rested for the real start of the trip.

Next Up: Banshee Bash at Kings Island, the first full day of the TPR Mini New Hotness tour.

Replies (3)

September 24, 2014, 3:30 AM

Hmmmm... this part of your trip sounded pretty awful from a ride perspective, AJ. I am curious why these two parks were even on the itinerary? Maybe just for the credits? Nostalgia? History? I gotta say, sometimes "just for the credits" is not a good enough reason to visit a park.

And what's this about meeting your "roommate"? Sounds a bit scary in this day and age. I guess you TPR folks know what you are doing... ;)

Anyway, thanks for sharing! I am looking forward to your Banshee Bash, as my family absolutely loved Banshee when we rode it in August.

Edited: September 24, 2014, 12:59 PM

There are different types of people when it comes to theme park enthusiasts. On here, most people seem to be the type that only care about the major parks. I personally am interested in visiting any park I would consider notable. By my definition, Stricker's Grove is a notable park simply because it is so unique. Sure, the park isn't great, but how often do you get to visit what is essentially a park in someone's backyard (plus it helps that they have a decent wooden coaster)? Coney Island is not a notable park, and I would not have included it if I was doing the trip on my own. It wasn't even an official part of the trip, just an add-on for those who arrived early enough. As far as TPR trips go, Robb and Elissa have started to limit trips to only quality parks, though up until a few years ago they were including kiddie parks in their trips. What happens when a busload of coaster enthusiasts shows up to ride a kiddie coaster?

Yes, I was on that tour (North East 2011), but I've never cared about visiting parks like this, and I'm glad they no longer include them on the tours. I don't have anything against small parks, but if there isn't something worthwhile it's just a waste of time.

As far as a roommate goes, TPR trips are double occupancy for rooming unless you pay extra for a single room, so if you go alone and don't want to pay extra you get paired with a roommate. I've done four trips and never had a problem with my roommate, as Elissa does a good job of pairing up people of similar demographic and interest. One time, I knew my roommate beforehand, and on two of the other three trips I quickly became good friends with them. I'll warn you right now: if this seems like an odd concept, wait until you see what other craziness occurs on these trips (they'll be some to come in later updates).

Glad you're enjoying it so far, and I'm planning to put the Banshee Bssh update up next week (trying to do one update per week here). For now, I'll just say it was one of the best days of the trip.

September 24, 2014, 3:53 PM

Don't misunderstand, it was the rides that sounded awful, not the parks themselves (heck, I even like little county parks with a merry go round). I get going to the parks for a unique experience, or history, or nostalgia, but if the purpose was ride credits... these stops, with the poor ratings you gave the rides, just weren't worth it. But, I understand and agree with your reasons for going.

Yeah, I'm paying the extra for the solo room... I know about you coaster enthusiasts, and cleanliness is NOT a top priority! ;p J/K!!!!!

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