Time Line:


1867 - James Parker purchased a 400 tree, 20 acre apple orchard on the banks of the Ohio River.

1870 - Some Cincinnati businessmen rode by horseback to the grove and asked Parker if they could have rent the place for a private picnic. Parker quickly realized that he could make more money renting out his land for picnics than growing apples.

1886 – March 18th, Parker sold the land for $17,500 to the Ohio Grove Corporation, a group headed by William and Malcolm McIntyre, both steamboat captains. The park was renamed Ohio Grove, The Coney Island of the West. Ohio Grove officially opened on a rainy day June 21, 1886. The steamboat Guiding Star delivered those first guests to the park. The Parkers took their money and moved to a farm in Harper, Kansas, never to return to Cincinnati.

1887 - The Ohio Grove name was dropped and the park was known as just Coney Island.

1888 – A new company, the Coney Island Company took over control of the park. Commodore Lee Brooks headed this new company. Other members of this company included Tom Paxton, and L.T. Anderson. The Company purchased neighboring farms to expand the size of the park.

1890- Coney purchased lot “G” in the Whetsone Plan from John L. Whetstone. The 16.007 acres of land cost $5,800.50 and was located directly behind Parker`s original farm. This land would be used to create Lake Como. (Jacques 19).

1893 – Lake Como was constructed on the site of a former cornfield. Named after the lake in Italy, it is a mere three to four feet deep all the way across.

1896 - The original Island Queen begins servicing the park. Built at a cost of $80,000 the boat, could hold 3,000 passengers.

1904 – Lake Como was enlarged.

1907 – The Coney Island Company was reorganized as The Coney Island Company of West Virginia. This was done for tax and liability reasons. Principal owners of this company included: Lee H. Brooks and his two sons, Charles and George Brooks, Mrs. Thomas Paxton, and Mrs. Langdon T. Anderson. William McIntyre was general manager from 1904 until 1911 (Jacques 33).

1911 – T.M. Harton, of Pittsburgh, built the Dip the Dips roller coaster. To entice him to build the ride at the park, the park gave him the carousel concession. Harton formed two companies, the Coney Island Dips Co. and the Coney Island Caroussel & Bldg. Company. Harton had rides at other parks such as Cedar Point, Idlewild, Idora, and Toledo`s Walbridge park (Jacques 35).

1912 - T.M. Harton built the Little Dipper for the park.

1913 - Harton built the Devil`s Dip coaster, although its opening was delayed until June 22nd due to flooding of the Ohio River. Lee Brooks died on June 17th, although the Coney Island Company was still controlled by his family.

1917 – On May 5th, the park`s powerhouse was destroyed by fire. After the fire, the park stopped generating its own electricity and began buying it from outside sources.

1918 - The original Dip the Dips, Figure 8 and Little Dipper were removed. The Dip the Dips was replaced by a new Dip the Dips designed by Harton.

1921 – John Miller designed the Sky Rocket roller coaster for the park. The ride reportedly cost $40,000 and Frank Thomas supervised construction of the ride.

1922 - The Island Queen is destroyed by fire. John Winslow Hubbard, of Pittsburgh, bought the park for $300,000. Hubbard owned the Louisville and Cincinnati Packet Company.

1923 – The season was full of obstacles and difficulties, including the resignation of Coney`s general manager Arthur Riesenberger when he found out that Hubbard planned to operate the park and the steamboat business as two separate operations.

1924 – Hubbard sold the 108-acre park to Coney Island, Inc. Principles in this new company included: Rudolph “Rud” Hynicka (president), George F. Schott (secretary) and William O. Mashburn, who was a Coca- Cola executive, as vice president. Mashburn`s family owned the Coca Cola franchise in Cincinnati and thus Coke became the official soft drink of Coney Island. The new owners spent $1 million improving the park, increasing the size of the park to 120 acres. The entrance gate along Sutton was built, and the main mall was constructed. New rides included: Custer Cars and a Noah`s Ark. Also a kiddie land was installed.

1925 - The owners built a new Island Queen that could hold 4,000 passengers. The boat was built at a cost of between $300,000 and $400,000. The park also added a larger parking lot to accommodate patrons that would be coming to the park via automobile. Also, the Tumble Bug debuted at the park designed by Harry Traver. Also, the Eli Bridge Company built a sixteen car Ferris Wheel for the park that could lift riders fifty five feet into the air. The Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) constructed Moonlite Gardens, the open-air dance hall. A new stone river gate (which still stands today) was constructed to greet visitors disembarking from the river boats.
On May 22nd, Sunlite pool opened. The pool was designed by W. J. Lynch of New Haven, CT and measured 200 feet by 401 feet. The pool contained 3,500,00 gallons of water and the filtration system could clean 47,000 gallons an hour. The pool reportedly cost around $500,000.
Also in 1925, Hynicka, Schott and other investors set up the Exhibitors and Breeders Association (Incorporated) to build a racetrack next to the park. The racetrack opened on July 6th, 1925. During the winter the racetrack ran into trouble due to gambling practices that were occurring there. As a result, Schott resigned from the Coney Island Race Course. Ownership of the track was transferred to Realty Holding, Inc. The horseracing track was shuttered on August 7th, 1926 and did not reopen until 1933 (Jacques 56).

1926 – The park claimed that it spent $500,000 on improvements this season and this was the first year that the park used the title “America`s finest amusement park.” PTC introduced two roller coasters at the park this season. The Wildcat dominated one end of the mall. In the middle of the mall, The Twister replaced the second version of the Dip the Dips. The Twister was a completely enclosed roller coaster. Also, the park purchased the classic PTC Carousel #79. The park also built a Noah`s Ark fun house.

1927 – February 21, 1927, Rud Hynicka died of a heart attack. He had owned 23 percent of Coney Island, Inc (15 of 65 shares). George Schott assumed leadership of the park. Bluebeard`s Castle and the Tilt-a-Whirl debuted. After the 1927 season, the park removed the Jack and Jill slide citing numerous accidents on the ride.

1928 - The PTC built Cascades water ride opened. PTC partially enclosed Moonlite Gardens and the Zoomer was removed.

1934 – The kiddie area of the park received a makeover and became known as the Land of Oz.

1935 - The Teddy Bear kiddie roller coaster opened in 1935, designed by Herb Schmeck. George Schott passed away of a heart attack at age 57. He was succeeded by his son, Edward Schott and son-in-law Ralph Wachs.

1937 - One of the largest floods in Cincinnati hits the park hard as it submerges the park under 28 feet of water. The park was able to reopen on schedule after spending $300,000 rebuilding the park. The PTC designed Clipper debuted replacing the Twister.

1938- The new Horse Cycle Ride opens.

1939- The Stratoship ride debuted.

1940- The Flying Scooters debuted, manufactured by Bisch Rocco.

1941 – The Cascades were rebuilt as The Lost River. And Rub-a-Dub-Dub opened in the Land of Oz.

1947 – Moonlite Gardens was renovated with new wrought iron added to the façade to resemble the French Quarter in New Orleans. The Mirror Maze and Caterpillar opened. Also, the PTC designed Shooting Star opened, utilizing the lift, station and final turn of the Clipper. On September 9th, a welder`s torch ignites the Island Queen when it is receiving off season maintenance in Pittsburgh.

1952- New hand powered cars opened in the Land of Oz.

1953- The sandy beach at Sunlite Pool was replaced with a green lawn and an 800 seat refreshment pavilion. Also, the “Friendly Giant” greeted kids at the entrance to the Land of Oz.

1955- The British made Rotor opened at the park.

1957- The Scrambler opened on the Coney Mall.

1958 – A large turnpike that encircled Lake Como was constructed at a cost of $100,000.

1960- Additions included the Crazy Orbit, Jolly Caterpillar and the Helicopter rides.

1961- The Shooting Star received a $51,000 renovation, complete with new tracks, new wood and a fresh coat of paint.

1962 – Ed Schott passed away in January. Ralph Wachs took over control of Coney and his son Gary began working at the park. The Calypso joined the ride line up.

1963 – A steam locomotive built by Chance Manufacturing opened around Lake Como on a 4,678-foot long track. The ride cost the park $200,000. Each of the two trains could hold 70 passengers. The 462 foot railroad trestle over Lake Como was supported on ninety one pilings driven fourteen feet into the lake bottom.

1964 – Flooding hit the park and the park was under 14 feet of water. By this time the park was comprised of 165 acres.

1965 - The Wildcat was removed from the end of the mall and replaced with a modern sky ride that traversed the length of the mall. The ride was built at a cost of $500,000.

1966 – The Spook dark ride was replaced the Bat Cave dark ride, while Cloud 9 (a Chance Trabant) and Skydiver also debuted at the park. A German beer garden was also built at the park at a cost of $75,000. Additionally, a new games building was built on the shores of Lake Como, at a cost of $300,000 and designed by UC alumni Darrel Daniels. The building comprised 40,000 square feet of space, and was originally called Hampton Court.

1967- The Land of Oz was given a $60,000 face lift. New rides included: a kiddie whip, turtle ride and a kiddie carousel.

1968 - Davy Crocket actor Fess Parker announced plans to build a frontier theme park, named Frontier Worlds at the intersection of Interstates 71 and 75 in Northern Kentucky. This announcement would lead to the eventual sale of Coney Island. Facing competition from the proposed park, Ralph Wachs began looking to build a new park. A log flume from Arrow Development debuted on the mall. Also, the park introduced “POP Days” for the first time. Guests could ride all the rides all day for the low price of $3.50 on select days. In July, Taft Broadcasting bought Coney Island for $6.5 million. They had the deep pockets to finance the new theme park.

1969- In March, Taft Broadcasting bought all the assets of Coney Island for 174,759 shares of stock (approximately $6.5 million). It was also announced at this time that a new park would be built in Kings Mills and that Coney would close when the new park opened. The Monster ride was added to the rides line up. Pay one price admission increased to $4.00 Also, the Grand Carousel was restored at a cost of $50,000.

1970 - A Galaxi roller coaster replaced the Circle Swing and Ferris Wheel.

1971 – This was the last season for Coney Island as the new Kings Island would be opening in 1972 up north off of I-71. The park drew 2.75 million guests in its final season. The park closed on September 6th, 1971.

1972 - Taft still owned Sunlite Pool, which it deemed too expensive to build a similar version at Kings Island. They opened the pool in 1972, although it drew less than 100,000 visitors.

1973 - The picnic grove reopened.

1974 – A private tennis club opened near the pool.

1976 – Taft renamed the park Old Coney and renovated the former Dodgem/Whip/Cuddle Up building into the 15,000 square foot Moonlite Pavilion at a cost of $95,000.

1977- The $250,000 Zoom Flume opened. Standing 50 feet high, the water slide is composed of two fiberglass troughs that run 500 feet long.

1984 – On July 4th, the $9 million Riverbend Music Center opened on 15 acres that was once the location of the turnaround for the Shooting Star. The ampitheater was designed by UC alumnus Michael Graves. Riverbend is owned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, operated by SFX Entertainment, with Coney providing parking, concessions and security. Additionally, the ZZIP! water slide opened at Sunlite Pool. Vic Nolting is named General Manager of Coney Island.

1985 - The Carousel pavilion and arcade were demolished as another $1 million was invested in the park. Moonlite Gardens reopened, Lake Como was recontoured, and the park was renamed Coney Island.

1987 – Taft Broadcasting was bought by Great American Communications, and with it they also bought Coney Island.

1989 – Krazy Kars and Baby Bumper boats were added to the park.

1990 – Adult Bumper Boats and a used Ferris Wheel that dates back to 1947, were installed along Lake Como.

1991 – Ronald Walker purchases the park from Great American Communications for $3.8 million. $2.5 million was spent renovating Sunlite Pool and the bathhouse. Additionally, a Scrambler debuted.

1992 – A Tilt-A-Whirl from defunct Fantasy Farm was purchased and installed.

1993 – A Trabant and Round Up were added to the park.

1994 – Flying Bobs, Helicopters, and Spin-a-Ree debuted. Over at Sunlite Pool, the 45 foot tall Pipeline Plunge replaced the Zzip. Additionally, Famous Fairways miniature golf opened.

1996 – Ronald Walker purchased Americana Amusement Park in Middletown, Ohio, under the company name of Park River Corporation.

1997 – Ronald Walker passed away unexpectedly, and his wife Brenda takes over control of the park. The park suffers through a major flood.

1998 - A Chance Manufacturing Carousel is added to the mall.

1999 – The Pepsi Python is installed at the park, the first roller coaster to operate at the park since it “closed” in 1971.

2000 – Park River Corporation sold Americana to Jerry Couch. The park introduced the Dodgems.

2001 – After Park River sold Americana, they relocated the Tempest ride that used to reside at Americana to the shores of Lake Como. Additionally, the Giant Slide debuted next to the Dodgems.

2002 – The park introduced Coney Kids Town, a small village of child sized buildings for kids to play in, located outside of Moonlite Gardens.

2003 – The park added the Frog Hopper from S&S Power on the former site of the Spin-A-Ree. The Spin-A-Ree was relocated to the spot vacated from the removed Antique Cars (circular kids umbrella ride).

2004 – The park introduced Firelite Express, a small tractor that pulls two trailers around the paths between Riverbend, the picnic grove and the Ohio River.

2005 – The Scream Machine drops into the park on the space vacated by the Frog Hopper. The Frog Hopper bounced its way over to the old location of the now defunct Baby Bumper Boats.

2006 – The Cylone slide opens in the Sunlite Pool area.

2007 – The park installs the Rock-O-Plane from now closed Americana/Lesourdsville Lake. Final season for Kiddie Circle Freeway and Spin A Ree rides.

2008 – Two new rides are added.  The Turtle Parade replaces Kiddie Circle Freeway, and the River Runner begins swinging in the park in the spaced vacated by the Frog Hopper and Spin-A-Ree.  Additionally, the Frog Hopper is moved near the Boats and Trains.  Eurobungy Dome, an upcharge attraction is added next to the Ferris Wheel. Additionally, the Super Slide is moved next to the Tilt-A-Whirl as the new National City Pavilion opens at Riverbend. The final season for the Zoom Flume water slide at Sunlite Pool.

2009 - $2 million is spent on park improvements including the Twister water slide complex, complete with two body slides and two tube slides, opens at Sunlite Pool.

2010 - The Bumper Boats receive a brand new dock.  Also, the Python receives a new paint job.

2011 - Moonlite Gardens and the Picnic Grove is renovated. A new rides Ticket Booth is constructed, and a new kiddy swing ride opens in Moonlite Square. Pipeline Plunge features new mats instead of the old inner tubes. The park celebrates its 125th anniversary.

2012- General landscaping improvements were made to the park, with an emphasis on the picnic grove. New Rides office was built.

2013- Como Cruisers motor boat ride opens on Lake Como, replacing the Bumper Boats ride.  Trabant was not operational all season.

2014- Wipe Out, a high adrenaline thrill ride opens on the former location of Trabant.

History Links

125 Anniversary