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Amusement Parks: Coney Island – a Potted History

Related: Cedar Point / Castles N' Coasters / Carowinds / Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari

Coney Island is an amusement park located in the California district of Cincinnati, Ohio which is just east of downtown Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River.

The amusement park dates back to 1886. Its original site had once been an apple orchard farm owned by James Parker. He had the vision to see just what an attractive location this was for people who were coming to visit the area and decided to sell the land to the Ohio Grove Corporation who originally called the amusement park ‘Grove Park, The Coney Island of the West’ but this was shortened to just ‘Coney Island’ in 1887.

Over the 20th century, the amusement park became an ‘institution’ in the Cincinnati area but by the late 1960s, it had become all too apparent that its location made it susceptible to flooding. The amusement park was subsequently sold off to Taft Broadcasting in 1969 who decided to construct a brand new amusement park called Kings Island, about 25 miles north of the city and the original amusement park closed down in 1971. Prophecies about the original site would come true just a year later when the banks of the Ohio burst and flooded the original site.

Taft Broadcasting, who still owned the original site of the amusement park, was desperate to maintain its value and had opened picnic groves, a private tennis club and renovated an area which became the Moonlite Pavilion dance hall. By the end of the 1970s, there was also a water slide, paddle boats and a few children’s rides.

However, the amusement park’s true revival wouldn’t emerge until 1984 with the opening of the $9 million Riverbend Music Center. Its future slowly began to look brighter but the amusement park still wouldn’t regain some of its original ‘magic’ until 1991 when a local businessman, Ronald Walker purchased the park for almost $4 million. He would pump in over $3.5 million over the next few years bringing back thrill rides to the amusement park, renovating the Sunlite Pool and on landscaping developments.

Ronald died unexpectedly in 1996 and shortly afterwards, his wife Brenda assumed control of the amusement park and continues to do so today.

Today, the amusement park may no longer be the biggest attraction it once was in these parts but it is still much loved for its ability to create special memories with classic rides, live shows, the Moonlite Pavilion and its beloved Sunlite Pool still attracting many guests today.

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