A Trip to the Moon (attraction)

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A Trip to the Moon was a pioneering early dark ride, best known as the flagship and namesake of Coney Island's Luna Park.


The ride was originally designed by Frederic Thompson for the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, New York. The popular ride cost US$0.50 ($14.00 in 2017 dollars[1]) at the time. The fee was twice the price of other attractions at the exposition and was experienced by over 400,000 people before it closed on November 2, 1901.[2] A Trip to the Moon was the first electrically powered mechanical "dark ride" and one of the first space rides.[3]

After the exposition, Thompson and his partner Elmer Skip Dundy brought the attraction to Tilyou's Steeplechase Park, before later establishing it as the anchor of their newly opened Luna Park in 1903.[4]


The first version of the ride involved a simulated trip for thirty passengers from the fairgrounds to the Moon aboard the airship-ornithopter Luna, with visions displayed of Niagara Falls, the North American continent and the Earth's disc. The passengers then left the craft to walk around a cavernous papier-mâché lunar surface peopled by costumed characters playing Selenites, and there visiting the palace of the Man in the Moon with its dancing "moon maidens", before finally leaving the attraction through a Mooncalf's mouth. After being brought to Coney Island's Luna Park, the ride was revamped in a new building at a cost of $52,000. The centerpiece of the ride was a ship called Luna III, enlarged to accommodate more passengers. The show had also changed from the original Buffalo incarnation. The ride rose over a panorama of Coney Island and passed over Manhattan's skyscrapers before rising into the clouds.

See also[edit]

  • Topsy (elephant) - used in a publicity stunt, dragging the airship Luna from Steeplechase Park to Luna Park


  1. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ Stanton, Jeffrey (May 1, 1998). "Coney Island - Luna Park". Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ "In 1901, you could pay 50 cents to ride an airship to the Moon". retro futurism. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Luna Park". GottaLoveConeyIslandDotCom. Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  • Immerso, Michael Coney Island: the people's playground 2002