Monday, July 11, 2011

The Scream Zone - Coney Island's Latest Thrills

After last year's debut of Luna Park, Central Amusement International had more plans up its sleeve, and they involved some new thrill rides along the boardwalk.  Good news for us all!  After a bit of a scuffle with existing tenants along the property, construction began on the Scream Zone, which contains four separate thrill rides.

The new park sits just down the boardwalk from Luna Park, basically on the other side of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.  There's an entrance to Scream Zone - complete with grinning logo - right on the boardwalk, located where "Shoot The Freak" used to be.  Now guests head down some stairs and into the Scream Zone using this gate.

Half of Scream Zone's attractions can be seen in this shot.  The large propeller style ride is called Zenobio, that one rotates cars on either end of the ride in a circle at 60 mph - inverting them at the same time.

You can also see the rainbow colors of the Sling Shot, though this is only one of the ride's arms.  You sit in a little caged ball, then elastically fly up to 150 ft. in the air.  It's fun to watch, but I can't say I boarded that one.

So how about those coasters?  They represent the other two rides found in the Scream Zone. The first, pictured above, is the Soarin' Eagle, a Zamperla flying coaster.  The ride was moved from Elitch Gardens, where it operated from 2002 until 2007.  It was then a non-operating fixture at that park for a couple years, until it was moved to Scream Zone.

I've read that Zamperla did some work on the coaster's cars so that they are more comfortable for riders.  I'm not sure if I just got lucky or what, but my ride was actually enjoyable!  I say that because after I rode Super Flight at Playland last year I was slightly disturbed by just how rough of a ride it was.  I've scoured photos of the older models and can see that the cage like device in front of riders' faces has been removed on Soarin' Eagle, but the restraints look generally similar, so I'm a bit confused on what changes were made.

Regardless of my history with Volare coasters, Soarin' Eagle is garnering a lot of attention due to the unique flying position riders take.  You always know a ride is popular when you seen groups of teens literally running toward it - and in this case they were still excited when their ride was over!

The Steeplechase is Scream Zone's other new coaster.  Also provided by Zamperla, the ride is one of the standard layout MotoCoasters.  This means it's essentially the same ride you can find at Darien Lake, and a smaller cousin to Pony Express at Knott's Berry Farm.  As with the later, you sit on horses on the Steeplechase.

The ride is small, but quite zippy.  It wasn't designed to be quite as extreme as other coasters, I think, such that it is a great fit for the whole family.  The flywheel launch takes the train to 40 mph in a short distance, and is just forceful enough to grab your attention.  From there the ride sails through a series of dips and turns, maximizing the effect of the unique trains.

Speaking of those trains, well here they are!  Riders side on the ponies as if they were... well sitting on a pony!  These rides also use trains themed as motorcycles, which is a natural fit since that's how you sit on them.  Once seated a brace comes up and applies pressure on your lower back to hold you in place.  It's an interesting feeling and quite open - just do not lean forward too far or the restraint will keep you that way!

Scream Zone is a wonderful compliment to Luna Park - and since the admission credits purchased at Luna are valid at Scream Zone getting your rides in is even easier.  Now that both parcels have been developed one might wonder what will happen to Parcel C, the third area that came as part of the amusement rezoning.  This summer it will hold a tent for the Vidbel Circus, but what could the future hold?

That wraps up coverage of Coney Island for now, I'll leave you with one final short video of the coasters of Scream Zone.