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Cincinnati's Coney Island Closes Amusement Park; Park to Focus on Water Attractions
Rides to be liquidated by Rides 4-U
Rides 4U - New & Used Rides
Cincinnati's Coney Island amusement park has closed– or rather it's amusement rides shut down on September 21st,  following the park's annual Fire Up the Night fireworks competition. 

Park operators are now planning to focus on the waterpark portion of the park. The 24 rides, including the Ferris wheel and carousel, will be dismantled and sold to other parks and carnivals.  The rides are being liquidated through New Jersey based Rides 4-U.  A listing of available equipment has been added to the company's web site.

Coney Island will now focus on the Sunlite Water Adventure area, and creating expanding features and amenities. Owners felt dividing their resources between both areas limited what they could offer at an area guests most sought. Rob Shutter Jr., the park's president and CEO says that “All of our consumer research, all of our consumer feedback, and all of our in-park data shows that the vast majority of our guests come to Coney Island because of the fun they have while in the Sunlite Pool area.”

With that in mind, work on the water park has already begun. Plans are afoot for a 100th birthday celebration for the Sunlite Pool in 2025. According to Shutter, “Since 2016, we've invested more than $6 million into the Sunlite Pool.” He adds that now the park is beginning a “new multi-phase renovation to grow Coney Island into the region's premier swim and play destination.”

Along with the waterpark expansion, the park will be creating additional spaces for some of its top events, such as the Appalachian Festival, Christmas Nights of Lights and Summerfair Cincinnati.

Interestingly, this is not the first time the park's amusement rides have been moved elsewhere. When the park closed in 1971, after a purchase by Taft Broadcasting, many of the rides were moved to Kings Island's Coney Mall area.

At that time, Coney Island's Sunlite Pool remained open, and the rides eventually returned. The park, which was originally founded in 1867 under the name Parker's Grove, with a dining hall, dance hall, and bowling alley owned by former apple-farmer James Parker. 

Sold to the Ohio Grove Corporation in 1886, it reopened with a name change to Ohio Grove, The Coney Island of the West. The riverfront location was popular. Just a year later, the park became known as Coney Island. 

The park grew over the years, and became an iconic institution in Cincinnati. The river location however made frequent flooding an occurrence. So, in 1968, park management discussed developing a new park on higher ground with Taft Broadcasting.

 Taft purchased the park, developed a site north of the city along Interstate 71, and moved most of the amusement rides there to Kings Island, intending to sell Coney Island's land for redevelopment. But business got in the way:  Taft opened Kings Dominion in Virginia and Carowinds on the North Carolina/South Carolina border, making redevelopment less of priority. 

Two years later Coney Island reopened, with SunlitePool, then and now the largest recirculating swimming pool, as a key destination.

In 1991, Coney Island was purchased by the Cincinnati businessman Ronald Walker, who restored thetraditional rides at the park over time, where they rebuilt their ridership – until today. 

Now, the five waterpark attractions are poised for growth – and ready to include additions.

According to Schutter “We began looking at the business aspect of it and attendance on both sides and how we did relative to gross.” The study revealed that the waterpark was more of a draw for guests from families to seniors to young adults. With that in mind, Schuttersaid it was easy to see guest preferences, and that investing in the waterpark facilities would be the most advantageous for the park and for its guests.

Improvements to the waterpark will be added in three phrases, culminating in 2025. 

One planned change may be focused on the deep end of the SunlitePool, the least-used area at the park. Schutter states that he is looking at creating something more involving in order to boost use in that area of the park. 

Since 2016, the company invested more than $6 million to Sunlite Pool upgrades, adding attractions that include Typhoon Tower and Cannonball Cove.Cannonball Cove, which opened in 2019, features two 3-foot diving boards and one 9-foot board that allows the ultimate cannonball in the separate12.9-foot pool area located at the entrance of Sunlite Water Adventure. 

Typhoon Tower, completed in 2016, is a multi-level water area spread over 16,000 square feet just northeast of the pool itself. It has 73 interactive play stations, and “the largest hydro storm” consisting of 1300 gallons of water unleashed to cascade down from the attraction's 33-foot tower. 

Waterslides also abound at the pool, with the four slide, quarter-mile, 45-foot-tall Twister equipped for both innertube and body slide – two slides each; the 70-foot body slide known as the Cyclone; and the Silver Bullet speed slide, which has been a part of the waterpark since 1945. On Lake Como, paddleboats, and swan and dragon themed paddleboats are available.

 

As for the area that contained the amusement rides, that will be the location for celebrations and large gatherings presently offered, along with new events for future development. 

While the park itself is undergoing these major changes, the names of both Sunlite Pool and Coney Island will remain, harkening back to the roots of Coney Island's past, Schutter says. 

“If you look back at its earlier phases as Parker's Grove, that's essentially what it was, a picnic area with special events held on the site,” he notes. 

With all the planned changes, Coney Island has nonetheless launched its season pass sales. And Christmas Nights of Lights will begin on November 8th. A free ticket to that event is available for pass-purchasers who buy before December 4th.
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