Cincinnati’s Coney Island mall, with its elaborately sculpted landscaping, twirling flat rides and roaring roller coaster was ingrained in the hearts of those that visited. So when Kings Island was conceived, it was imperative they included a themed area dedicated to the memory of the beloved park.
Originally called “Coney Island” the themed area was designed to be a bigger, better version of its predecessor. Its concept was that of a “Turn-Of-The-Century” park that would incorporate as many of the original rides from closed Coney as possible.
When Kings Island opened, its “Coney Island” themed area included a relocated Tumble Bug, Grand Carousel, Monster, Scrambler, Flying Skooters, Cuddle-Up, Dodgem, Halley’s Comet and Flying Carpet Giant Slide. New attractions would include “The Racer” (more about that in a separate blog) and Les Taxis – a French Taxis car ride. Food stands would provide favorite treats like waffle cones, burgers, elephant ears and of course, funnel cakes. The midway would be filled with familiar favorite games and amusements, many of which were relocated. To this day, the original “Guess Your Age or Weight” scale exists (although it’s been moved around a bit!). Last, but certainly not least, it included 35 of the unforgettable Ginkgo trees relocated from the Cincinnati’s Coney Island midway.
This area of the park saw the most action and the most people – probably because it held the predominant amount of thrill rides. The arcade was so popular during the opening season, that it was doubled in size for 1973. The length of the midway saw its first expansion in 1975 when it was nearly doubled in length. It was re-named “Old Coney” in 1980 and operated as such until 1986 when it was overhauled and changed to “Coney Mall” (It retains that name today.). In the 1990’s, the Coney midway was extended to the north side of “The Racer” when Outer Limits: Flight of Fear was added (when Firehawk was added in 2007, that expansion area was given its own name: “X-Base.”)
Coney Mall holds the distinction of being expanded the most often, and having received more new attractions than any other area of the park. Since 1973 new rides and attractions have included: Skylab (a HUSS Giant Enterprise 1986-1997), a larger Dodgem (1986-current), Zephyr (Wave Swinger 1986-current), Flight Commander (Intamin Flight Trainer 199-1994), Zodiac (Intamin Skywheel 1975-1989), The Bat (1981-1982), 3D Action Theater (1994-current), Vortex (1987-current), Shake Rattle & Roll (Huss Troika 1975-current), Windseeker (Mondial Giant Swing 2011-current), Cinema 360 (Indoor 3D Experience 1975-2008) and Backlot Stunt Coaster (originally Italian Job:Stunt Track 2005-current.)
In 1996, the park advertised a new thrill ride “dropping in” to a vacant plot of land that had held the removed Flight Commander attraction. The park had contracted with Intamin Rides to install a free-fall drop ride in its place. However, not wanting to add two rides on a busy Coney Mall in two consecutive seasons, the ride was instead installed at Canada’s Wonderland, and Kings Island opted to expand the water park for 1997 instead. Kings Island would get its drop ride two years later – and a much larger version of it when Drop Tower premiered in Action Zone.
Of course with additions comes subtractions, and many of the original Coney Island rides that found a second life on Kings Island’s Coney Mall are now gone. Aged rides such as The Tumble Bug (the park’s oldest attraction), Cuddle-Up, Flying Carpet and original Dodgem were sacrificed during the 1986 expansion. However the mall’s centerpiece and most iconic original attraction, “The Racer” still exists to thrill riders today. It is a significant piece of roller coaster history that changed the focus of amusement parks forever.