If hunting for free cash in brambles isn’t your idea of thrill-seeking, then consider Luna Park’s newly-opened Thunderbolt roller coaster as an excellent means to a weekend adrenaline rush. About a hundred people came to the park Saturday morning to become better acquainted with The Thunderbolt, Coney Island’s first custom roller coaster since the Cyclone was installed in 1927, at an opening ceremony featuring former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and current BBP Eric Adams.
“It was the next big thing to do,” Central Amusement International president Valerio Ferrari said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. He added that the Thunderbolt is the first nine-passenger roller coaster vehicle in the world. “My son is a thrill seeker…I am a thrill coward. I will not be riding this ride,” added Borough President Eric Adams.
The Thunderbolt takes up an entire block along West 15th Street, curling 2,000 feet of track into a 45-by-800 foot space. Harold Kramer, whose family operated the original Thunderbolt roller coaster in 1925, is happy to see “the legend continued into a new century.” “It’s so nice to drive up Surf Avenue and see a roller coaster instead of an empty lot,” Kramer said to applause.
After the ceremony, it was time to try out the coaster. “Oh my God, that would kill me,” onlooker Helen Matthews observed. “I’d never go on it, not even if I was younger. I went on the original Thunderbolt, and this is nothing like it.” For what it's worth: the original coaster cost 15 cents back in 1925 (it costs $10 a ride now).
But you're probably wondering: just how vomit-inducing is the coaster? The Thunderbolt begins with a 115-foot, 90-degree vertical lift that lays you flat on your back so you’re staring straight up at the sky (disclaimer: I mostly stared at the sky. I might have had my eyes closed for this bit). If that doesn’t relocate your stomach, then the 90-degree vertical drop that follows might. Or maybe it will happen when the car approaches 55 miles per hour, barreling through a 100-foot vertical loop, a zero-G roll, and a corkscrew. The entire experience lasts about two minutes. By the end, my ponytail had somehow fallen out, and I was hoarse from screaming.
I was definitely buzzing from adrenaline when I got off, but I think I underestimated how crazy it was going to be. Having said that, it runs very smoothly, so I didn't feel sick... but I was dizzy and loopy. For those brave souls who can stomach it, you can see the full summertime park schedule here.
As 17-year-old thrill seeker Brea Banks put it: “Going up, I was all, ‘Oh dang, oh dang, oh dang.’” See what all the dangs are about in the POV videos of the coaster in action below.
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tboltpov6-5-14slomotion from Gothamist on Vimeo.