All my life, I’ve lived in the New York area – about 20 years in Westchester – and I’d never ridden the Dragon Coaster. Until today.
(I’ve also never been to the Statue of Liberty, but that’s another story.)
It wasn’t bad at all.
It rumbled, it clattered, it whipped around curves and dropped. But for fear factor, I’d rate it about 7.5 on a scale in which 1 is standing still and 10 is a Manhattan taxi ride. And that’s saying something.
Thousands came to the park for opening day, and almost everyone I talked to said the Dragon Coaster was the favorite ride.
“I like how it went fast,” 9-year-old Chelsea Schwartz of Ridgefield, Conn. told me, when I interviewed her and her parents.
Her friend Anna Maiorino, also 9, was one of the few people I talked to who had another favorite. She preferred Catch a Wave which churns riders in a vertical spin.
“I like the feeling of it going up and down,” she said.
The park, by the way, will now be open on weekends in May (and some weekdays for school groups.) When schools let out, it will be open Tuesdays through Sundays until Sept. 9.
The Dragon Coaster is milder than many other wooden coasters, like the Cyclone at Coney Island. The Dragon Coaster does not start off by dropping you into a steep fall after the initial, clacking ascent, the way many others do. You whip around a curve, then drop. From there, the ride is lively, but not that frightening.
The signature feature is that dragon mouth at the end, that swallows you as you shoot up another hill. That puts you into a curving tunnel that ends when you plunge into another drop.
In all, it’s a fun ride. And people line up for it. Young people find it to be wild, and maybe riding it becomes almost a rite of passage.
Even County Executive Rob Astorino was taking his 7-year-old daughter Kiley on it for the first time, now that she’s reached the minimum height.
“She’s 48 inches (tall), so she just made it,” he told me. Two years ago, he took his 8-year-old son Sean on it.
“He screamed and yelled and said, ‘That was awesome!’” Astorino recalled.