Five strangest attractions in Coney Island's history
The house under the Thunderbolt roller coaster in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" was a real thing, plus more of the strangest Coney Island attractions ever.
Coney Island has been replete with strange and fascinating rides in its more than century-long history. Metro takes a peek at the top five oddest rides from over the years.
A 162-foot, 31-room hotel in the shape of a giant elephant stood on 12th Street and Surf Avenue from 1884 until it burned down in 1896. Situated opposite the ferry pier, ferry riders who came in at night could see the elephant’s glowing red eyes.
A 50-foot statue of a nude woman with wings drew curious eyes at the entrance of Dreamland on Surf Avenue until a fire razed the park in 1911. Her bare breasts were considered acceptable because the sculpture was part of a biblical exhibit that told the story of creation.
Riders came down a slide and landed on a large, flat table with 24 spinning discs that pushed them in all directions. It was housed in Steeplechase Park’s Pavilion of Fun, which was rebuilt after a fire burned down the original in 1907.
Located at the exit of the Steeplechase Horse Ride, women who had just gotten off the ride would have their skirts blown up by a jet of air while an audience – recent victims themselves – watched and sneered. If that weren’t enough, a dwarf electrocuted the men on the stage with a cattle prod. This went on until about 1960.
The original Thunderbolt was built over the Kensington Hotel, which later served as a home for the rollercoaster’s owners. Long-time resident Fred Moran told guests in his home that the sound of his house rattling was “the sound of money,” said Coney Island historian Charles Denson. The house, made famous in Woody Allen’s "Annie Hall," was demolished with the coaster in 2000.