What Will Happen To Fantasy Island's Rides?

Smaller parks closing appears to be the trend say coaster enthusiasts

Tom Puckett
February 20, 2020 - 4:00 am
Fantasy Island in Grand Island. February 19, 2020 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Fantasy Island in Grand Island. February 19, 2020 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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Grand Island, NY (WBEN) Members of the American Coater Enthusiasts are lamenting the closure of Fantasy Island, as they note a number of smaller amusement parks are going away around the country.

"It is heartbreaking, I am devastated," says Elizabeth Ringas of ACE. "A treasured park hits home because I think of the chances of making memories lost for families and those who loved to visit, as well as the loss of jobs and loss for the economy." Ringas says there is a trend in smaller amusement parks closing around the country. "As we see the change in people's interests, if families aren't spending time together, we're going to lose these small town parks. We see so many parks close. There used to be one in each town," says Ringas.

As for rides, Ringas hopes they will be preserved. "A lot of parks refurbish rides so they can continue for years to come," says Ringas. She adds such a ride can bring a memory of childhood in an instant. "There's huge nostalgia when you go to an amusement park because all your senses are stimulated so the best memories are made. All the smells, the sounds, the time with your family, the smallest thing can trigger it to bring back the nostalgia craving that kind of entertainment, even the thrill of it. The fear of some rides bring back wonderful memories as time goes on because you remember what you conquered."

Rus Ozana says he received word on Tuesday about rides being sold. "We became aware of the rides going up through Apex, the park owner," says Ozana. "That's a red flag when you see a lot of the flat rides on the list, this is not good."

Ozana says any of the rides could go anywhere in the world. "There are websites out there where you can list rides for sale. Prime example, Hard Rock park in South Carolina, open for two seasons, they had three or four roller coasters, all of which were sold to Vietnam. Any kind of ride from an amusement park could go anywhere in the world," notes Ozana. But he doesn't believe that will be the case for Fantasy Island's rides. "Chances are, they will go to smaller parks around the country. I cannot speak for any park in particular, but chances are there's a park without a tilt-a-whirl that would like one, and they can make arrangments to sell that ride," explains Ozana.

Ozana says smaller parks are finding tough to stay afloat. "Operating an amusement park is expensive, just taxes, payroll, insurance, trying to find the help to run the rides and games, all of these things can be overwhelming to a smaller park. When we see a smaller park giving up, we understand just as much as we are saddened by it," explains Ozana.

Ozana says his fondest memory at Fantasy Island is riding the Silver Comet roller coaster. "The Silver Comet is a great loss because the company that makes it did not make that many coasters," says Ozana. "It is a great ride. It ran beautifully, and the Silver Comet is a great loss not only to Fantasy Island, but to the entire coaster enthusiast community around the world." Ozana made a couple of visits from Massachusetts in the last decade. "We would have exclusive ride time where they would open the park early or late for us to ride the coasters for an extra hour. The Silver Comet wasn't the tallest or fastest coaster in the world, but it was the perfect coaster for Fantasy Island."

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