Sea Lion Park
Sea Lion Park was a 16-acre (65,000 m2) amusement park started in 1895 on Coney Island by Paul Boyton. He fenced the property and charged admission, the park becoming the first enclosed and permanent amusement park in North America. Up until the establishment of this park, amusement areas around the country consisted of pay-as-you-go concessions. In 1903, Sea Lion Park was replaced by Luna Park.
Mr. Boyton achieved international notoriety with various demonstrations of a rubber suit, which was a life saving device, similar to a type of kayak, for example, by crossing the English Channel. He travelled around the United States with an aquatic circus and in 1894 established an amusement park in Chicago. He then decided to settle in Coney Island and purchased the land behind the Elephant Hotel as a permanent location for his aquatic show featuring 40 sea lions.
Rides and attractions
The most popular attraction, aside from the aquatic show, was a ride called the Water Chute. The attraction, designed by Boyton and Thomas Polk, consisted of flat bottomed boat that slid down a ramp into a pool of water at the bottom. When the boat hit the pool it would skim across the surface of the pool.
The park also included the infamous Flip Flap Railway, which was a roller coaster ride, designed by Lina Beecher, that inverted the riders in a loop after fall from a height of 20m. The ride was too dangerous and was closed. Boyton also added an old mill style ride called Cages of Wild Wolves, and a ballroom (1899).
By 1902, Boyton could not keep up the pace of new attraction introductions that the public craved. The 1902 summer was particularly rainy and not very profitable. The nearby Steeplechase Park had opened on Coney Island in 1897 and was presenting even newer competition. By the end of 1902, Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy obtained a long term lease for Sea Lion Park and it was re-opened as Luna Park.
- History of Enduring Coney Island. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
- Stanton, Jeffrey (1998) Coney Island-Sea Lion Park. retrieved 4 August 2007
- Luna Park History site. Retrieved 4 August 2007
- Samuel Hawley, TOPSY THE CIRCUS ELEPHANT, .samuelhawley.com (research collected for the novel "Bad Elephant Far Stream")
- Midway Plaisance-Amusement Park histories
- Luna Park at amusement-parks.com
- Luna Park history site with numerous pictures