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Coney Island removing all rides, hopes to become 'premier swim and play destination'

Posted at 2:34 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 00:57:52-04

CINCINNATI — Coney Island will shut down all its rides at the end of September to pursue what officials described Monday as a “new singular focus on (the) water park experience.”

Instead of an all-purpose amusement park, CEO and president Rob Schutter Jr. said he hopes to transform the park into “the region’s premier swim and play destination” in time for Sunlite Pool’s 100-year anniversary in 2025.

“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,” he said in a news release.

Visitors can continue to enjoy the rides until Sept. 21.

Former Coney Island assistant manager Dennis Spiegel, who now oversees theme park projects in several countries, said the announcement represents the end of an era he and others remembered fondly.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of nostalgia for Coney Island,” he said. “I’m sure some of that has waned throughout the years because people have gotten older who went there and had their fun memories.”

Spiegel’s first job there was as a ticket taker in 1959. By 1970, he was managing and spent parts of his night shifts waving at Shooting Star riders from the catwalk.

He said he understands the reasoning behind the park’s decision: “It’s going back to its roots of being a picnic, special-events type of park.”

And he’s excited to learn what comes next. Whatever happens, he said, the essence of the park stays the same.

“Coney Island has been a wonderful place for millions and millions of people to have fun,” Spiegel said.

The park said it also plans to create additional spaces for popular events like the Appalachian Festival and Summerfair Cincinnati, to provide event spaces for other community festivals and events in the future.

Earlier this year, Coney Island also announced it's annual Fall-O-Ween event would not return in 2019.