Seabreeze Amusement Park

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Seabreeze Amusement Park, known locally as Seabreeze, is a historic amusement park in Irondequoit, a suburb of Rochester, New York. It is one of only thirteen trolley parks still operating in the United States.

Seabreeze is in northeast Irondequoit, where Irondequoit Bay empties into Lake Ontario. It opened on August 5, 1879,[1] and, according to the National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA), it is the twelfth-oldest operating amusement park in the world (fourth-oldest in the United States). Its most celebrated ride is the Jack Rabbit, an "out and back" roller coaster, and the fourth-oldest operating roller coaster in the world (opened 1920). It is owned and operated by the Norris family, many of whom have lived on the property for years.

History[edit]

Seabreeze Amusement Park began its life as Sea Breeze Grove, opening for business on August 5, 1879, when the first train of picnickers arrived at the park on the newly built Rochester & Lake Ontario Railroad. More commonly known as the Bay Railroad, the 6.05-mile-long steam line was built specifically for the purpose of transporting passengers from a depot in Rochester, located at the intersection of Portland Avenue (then North Avenue) and Bay Street. The railroad was an instant success and had more business than it could handle right from the start.

The park at that time did not feature amusement park rides. Instead, it featured beautifully landscaped grounds with paths for strolling, a pavilion that had a refreshment and cigar stand, a dancing platform, and picnic groves. The park was situated on the most picturesque bluff in the area and the masses came to Sea Breeze to enjoy the scenery, cool lake breezes, and entertainment which included concerts and vaudeville acts. A baseball diamond and field, located in the picnic groves, hosted athletic events for local sport teams as well as for picnickers. So popular was Sea Breeze that a local pastor took to the Democrat & Chronicle, lamenting the fact that the Bay Railroad trains were full while the church pews were empty. This was quickly remedied by holding church services in a tent, located on park grounds, so that people could visit Sea Breeze and fulfill their religious obligations as well.

A hotel, whose primary purpose was for entertaining, was built in the park in 1885. Called the Pavilion Hotel, it operated for only three seasons before being lost to fire. Not to be deterred, the Bay Railroad constructed a new hotel in 1888. Also called the Pavilion Hotel, it featured a large dining area with a stage. Vaudeville acts, concerts and special events were often held there.

The earliest amusement rides at Sea Breeze were not located in the park proper, but rather in the amusement resort area that surrounded it. In 1886, Joseph Stahley, a proprietor of one of the nearby hotels, built a roller coaster. Frank Moore operated a track carousel on the lakefront. And people came and went throughout the day, taking the trains or steamboats to and from Sea Breeze.

A tragic train wreck in 1899 left the Rochester & Lake Ontario Railroad in bankruptcy. A new company, the Rochester & Suburban Railway Company, set out to modernize the railroad and park in 1900. They converted the steam railroad into an electric trolley line and upgraded the park facilities. Free acts were performed daily on the lawn, drawing tens of thousands of people to the already popular park. The new company adopted a new business model, allowing concessionaires to set up shop in the park, and in 1901 Sea Breeze Grove was renamed Sea Breeze Park, ushering in a new era of growth.

The first permanent ride, a Figure 8 roller coaster, was added to the park in 1903. Other new attractions that year included a laughing gallery, featuring mirrors that distort your image, and a zoo in the picnic grove. In 1904, George Long, Sr. brought his family's carousel to Sea Breeze. And in 1906, a Circle Swing ride opened by the Pavilion Hotel. The Figure 8 roller coaster was removed at the end of the 1915 season and a new coaster, the Dips, was built. The Dips featured faster speeds and steeper drops.

At the end of the 1919 season, it was announced that the nearby Ontario Beach Park, always the star amusement park of the area, would close its gates forever. During the next decade, significant efforts were undertaken to transform Sea Breeze Park into a spectacular and nationally recognized amusement center.  This included the addition of new attractions, renovations to the grounds, and updating park facilities.  For 1920, a water ride called the Old Mill opened adjacent to the newly built Jack Rabbit roller coaster.  Over the ravine, the largest open-air dancing pavilion in Western New York State, Dreamland, was constructed.  And for the young ones, a new miniature railroad.  An ornate refreshment pagoda adorned the midway by these newest attraction.  The new attractions were well-received and record crowds came to the park.  For 1921, a new thriller called the Virginia Reel was built adjacent to the Dips roller coaster at the north end of the park.  At the south end of the park, a modern Circle Swing ride called the Airplane Swing opened alongside a state-of-the-art bumper car ride called Dodgem.  In 1922 a Whip ride was added along with a fun-house attraction under Dreamland called Hilarity Hall.  In 1923, with free acts being as popular as they were, a beautiful new stage was built to accommodate larger acts.  By this time the park has been proclaimed "The Park of Rides," as aggressive expansion continued.

On the night of August 26–27, 1923, a fire broke out in the tunnel of the Old Mill and the south end of the park went up in flames.  Lost were the Old Mill, Dreamland Dance Hall, Hilarity Hall and portion of the Jack Rabbit roller coaster.  The largest crowds of the season came the weekend following the fire as curious excursionists wanted to see the ruins first-hand.  By the time they arrived, crews had already gone to work cleaning up the debris and by 1924 the lost portions of the park had been rebuilt. When the park opened for the new season, a new dance hall, Danceland, was built adjacent to Jack Rabbit's second hill. A new entrance to the rebuilt Old Mill was located under the Jack Rabbit lift hill, and the coaster featured a larger and reconfigured station. A Caterpillar ride was also installed.

Perhaps one of the most interesting attractions to be built at Sea Breeze Park was the Natatorium, a giant salt-water swimming pool constructed at the south end of the park. Said to be 99.9% pure, the pool featured water that was heated to 72-degrees, was salted to match the salinity of the water in the Atlantic Ocean, and was purified and filtered using a system of ultra-violet rays and sand filters. The facility featured clean locker rooms with 6,500 free lockers, 800 stainless-steel changing booths, and shower and toilet facilities. At the south end of the complex there was a stage that hosted vaudeville acts and concerts daily. The north end featured a restaurant, lounge, and the sanitation plant which was open for tours. The pool could accommodate 5,000 bathers at a time, with water ranging from one- to five-and-a-half-feet in depth. A deep section in the middle, which was ten feet deep, had spring boards and diving platforms. The facility was run by Charlotte Boyle Clune, 1920 Olympic Swimming champion, whose employment was an attraction in and of itself. She and her staff offered swimming lessons, swimming and diving exhibitions, and ran a top-notch operation well known for its safety. Special attractions in the Natatorium that came and went included sun-tanning lamps, a water wheel, water whip and toboggan ride.

Rides and Attractions[edit]

Early rides included its centerpiece carousel added in 1915. (The carousel was almost completely destroyed by fire on March 31, 1994; a new carousel of hand-made parts, potentially one of the last to be made in this way, was commissioned to replace it, using four horses that survived the fire.) Four roller coasters were added in the 1920s, including a ride called the Virginia Reel, and the "world's largest salt water swimming pool - sections of which still exist inside of a huge storage building on the south end of the property beyond the edge of the jackrabbit." [1]

Today, in addition to the carousel and the Jack Rabbit, the park includes a spinning coaster called "The Whirlwind," the "Raging Rivers" water park, and other modern and classic amusement rides.[2]

Along the list of attractions, the Quantum Loop was built but then removed at the end of 2003 after receiving negative reactions from many people who visited the park. It would soon be replaced with the Whirlwind coaster in 2004 and the Revolution 360 in 2010. In 2014, the Wave Swinger, formerly the Yo-Yo and Great Balloon Race opened.

Dry Rides and Attractions[edit]

Thrill Rides[edit]

  • Time Machine : A spinning gondola ride that opened in 2017.
  • Jack Rabbit : A wooden roller coaster opened in 1920 designed by John A. Miller and built by Harry C. Baker. The ride consists of an initial 7 story drop, then two hills, a flat turn, another two hills, another flat turn and lastly a dip inside a dark tunnel before hitting the brakes.
  • Whirlwind : A steel spinning roller coaster designed and manufactured by German company Maurer Sohne (Whirlwind is an Xtended SC 2000 model). The ride initially operated as "Cyber Space" from 2000 to 2003 on the Spanish fair circuit with Family Fraguas before Seabreeze purchased the ride. The Whirlwind replaced the former Quantum Loop roller coaster, opening in 2004. The ride experience starts with a 5-story swooping drop before curving back up. Then the car whips around a flat turn (this turn is where the spinning actually initiates). The rest of the ride consists of an 85-degree banked turn followed by other turns and helixes.
  • Log Flume : One of the oldest log flume rides in the country (dates back to the 1950s). Also, this ride has one of the steepest log flume drops in the country which gives the finale drop a good amount of "airtime", so hold on tight! The ride went through an extensive renovation in the 1980s, adding the current log themed boats and a new electronic operating panel/mechanics (Both the vehicles and system were manufactured by Hopkins). Before the renovation, the ride was called Over The Falls and had vehicles that more resembled little boats.
  • Bobsleds : an "in-house" designed hybrid roller coaster (wood supports/steel track) consisting of short drops and flat turns.
  • Music Express : An average music express ride, from the music to the extreme "to the side" gforces. Manufactured by Bertazzon (Music Express Model).
  • Wave Swinger : A Bertazzon manufactured swing carousel model ride. The ride was relocated from the now defunct Freestyle Music Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where it operated as Just A Swingin'/The Texas Swing.
  • Revolution 360 : A U shaped ride with a constantly spinning vehicle riding up and down the sides. This ride was manufactured by Zamperla (Mega Disk'o model).
  • Sea Dragon : A swinging ship ride. Manufactured by Chance Rides (Sea Dragon model).
  • Screamin' Eagle : An inverting hawk ride. Opened in 1998. This ride was manufactured by Zamperla (Hawk Model).
  • Bumper Cars : An average bumper cars ride located in the building that used to be the now defunct Greyhound's station. The ride was manufactured by Duce.

Family Rides[edit]

  • Great Balloon Race : A tower ride that slowly goes up and then slowly back down as guest driven spinning gondolas orbit around the tower. Manufactured by Zamperla (Samba Tower model). It opened in 2014.
  • Carousel : A carousel that dates back to 1994. The original carousel that this one replaced was far older, but was burnt down in a tragic fire in 1994. It opened in 1996.
  • Twirlin' Tea Cups : A roundabout ride with self driven spinning "tea cups". Manufactured by Zamperla. It replaced the former Crazy Cups ride; a Philadelphia Toboggan Company Crazy Daisy in 2011.
  • Train : A children's train that travels under the Log Flume, over bridges, and through tunnels around the Log Flume pond. It opened in 1974.
  • Seabreeze Flyers : A ride that consists of wire attached gondolas with wind resistant rudders on the front of each, so that guests can, to an extent, control their ride experience. Manufactured by Larson (Flying Scooters model). It was formerly known as The Seabreeze Flyers and was opened in 1979.
  • Tilt-a-Whirl : A classic style Tilt-A-Whirl ride, meaning a moving belt of metal plates with hills in it, and spinning carts connected to each plate. For the 2015 season, the Tilt-a-Whirl received a complete overhaul; the carts, deck, and paint was refurbished by the park. It is now green and purple with a spinning sign in the middle that says, "TILT." It opened in 1976.
  • The Spring! : A small drop tower ride, however this one bounces down instead of dropping the full way down. Manufactured by Moser's Rides (Spring model). It opened in 2003.

Kiddie Rides[edit]

  • Bear Trax : An E&F Miller Industries Family Roller Coaster. While the model claims to be a family coaster, this is really the park's kiddie roller coaster. An adult can only ride if riding with a younger visitor. The ride's track is painted green.
  • Barnstormers : An airplane ride in which riders control their height in the air by pulling back or pushing forward on control sticks in the aircraft's' cockpits. This ride is not located in Kiddie City, but instead, near the Arcade. Opened in 1955 with all other 5 kiddie rides.
  • T-Birds : Miniature 1955 Ford T-Birds with two steering wheels (for two riders) that travel around an electrified track that controls the cars' movement and steering. This ride is located in Kiddie City.
  • Star Rockets : A ride in which two children ride back-to-back, with fake guns in front of both riders. The ride travels through the air in a circle. This ride is located in Kiddie City.
  • Flying Turtles : A Seabreeze-original ride. Basically, it is a small roller coaster that travels around the track in circles and goes over bumps along the way, it is a children's Tumble Bug ride. This ride is located in Kiddie City.
  • Kiddie Boats : A set of four passenger boats (one of the boats only has two passenger seats because of the jet power plant) that travels around a small pool in a circle. This ride is located in Kiddie City
  • Kiddie Swings : A miniature version of the Wave Swinger, minus the see-saw motion. This ride is located in Kiddie City.

Waterpark[edit]

  • The Wave : A wave pool with large waves that come crashing in every ten minutes. The pool itself contains over 260,000 gallons of water with a depth ranging from zero (the "beach") to five feet deep.
  • Helix : A bowl waterslide that moves in a fashion similar to getting "flushed down a toilet". Manufactured by ProSlide Technology (CannonBowl model)
  • Soak Zone : A water playground perfect for kids, with sprayers, water cannons, kiddie slides, and a giant bucket of water that will dump out every few minutes.
  • Hydro Racer : A four lane racing waterslide where riders lay on their stomachs head first on foam mats and turn around a 360 helix before dropping outside next to each other. Manufactured by ProSlide Technology (4 lane OctopusRacer model)
  • Riptide Tube Slide : A regular tube slide, with turns and slight dips. Manufactured by ProSlide Technology.
  • Vortex : Another regular tube slide, but in an enclosed green/blue slide. Manufactured by ProSlide Technology.
  • Looney Lagoon : A water play area in the middle of the Lazy River, featuring a small, less than one foot deep pool, has two kiddie waterslides and a water mushroom.
  • Lazy River : Sit back and relax as you float along a slow moving water channel on an inflatable tube. Watch out for sprayers and other wet surprises on the way!

All of Seabreeze's lifeguards are certified through Ellis and Associates' International Lifeguard Training Program. Each month, lifeguards face "safety audits," conducted by E&A National Staff, to test each guard's "rescue readiness." The park also employs "Timmy," the Vigilance Awareness Training (VAT) doll that simulates a drowning toddler, to test lifeguards' abilities to recognize a drowning victim.

Food Services[edit]

  • Seabreeze Grill : Located on the midway, serving hot dogs, hamburgers, Italian sausage, grilled chicken, french fries, onion rings, combo meals, fresh salads and beverages.
  • California Grill : Located in the waterpark, behind the lockers, serving hot dogs, hamburgers, Italian sausage, grilled chicken, nachos and cheese, large pretzels, chips, slush puppies and beverages.
  • Waffle Stand : Located by the Music Express, just beyond the Derby Ring Toss building, serving famous Seabreeze waffles, fried dough, funnel cake fries and beverages.
  • Summertime Treats : Located on the midway, across from the kiddie rides, serving slush puppies, nachos and cheese, hard ice cream, popcorn, candy and beverages.
  • Walk-away Tacos & Subs : Located on the midway, next to the Seabreeze Grill, serving walk-away tacos, empanadas, submarine sandwiches, salads and beverages.
  • Chicken & Fries : Located by the Wave Swinger, across from the Log Flume, serving fresh cut french fries, boneless buffalo wings, chicken fingers, popcorn chicken, lemonade and beverages.
  • Expressway : Located at the South end of the midway, across from the Gift Shop, serving mix your own slush puppies, ice cream treats, potato chips, snacks and beverages.
  • Pizza & More : Located between the Carousel and Arcade, serving pizza (slices of whole), cheese sticks, chips, cookies, fresh salads, frozen drinks and beverages.
  • Sprinkles : Located across from the main gate, behind the Center Stage, serving soft ice cream, assorted toppings, sundaes, shakes, floats and beverages.
  • Dippin' Dots : Two Locations, one across from the Music Express, and the other at the entrance to the Waterpark, each serving assorted flavors, floats and beverages.

Shows, Shops & More[edit]

  • Cirque En Vol
  • Gift Shop
  • Carousel Museum
  • Fun and Games
  • Arcade
  • Seabreeze Surf Co.

Former Rides and Attractions[edit]

  • WipeOut! : twin racing tubular waterslides
  • Radical Run : body slide that was part of the Bermuda Triangle
  • Gyrosphere : An indoor scrambler ride with laser effects and music. Removed in 2007 and replaced by Music Express. Manufactured by Eli Bridge Company (Scrambler model).
  • Banzai Pipeline : A 5-story drop body waterslide. Removed in 2011 and replaced by Hydro Racer. Manufactured by ProSlide (SpeedSlide model).
  • Zoom Flume : body slide that was part of the Bermuda Triangle
  • Bermuda Triangle : A collection of three similar body slides that twisted around each other; two regular body slides (Zoom Flume and Radical Run) and the Banzai Pipeline.
  • Yo-Yo : A swing ride that simply raised the chairs and spun in circles. Removed in 2013 and replaced by Wave Swinger. Manufactured by Chance Rides (Yoyo model).
  • Crazy Cups : An old fashioned version the Tea Cups ride. Removed in 2011 and replaced by Twirl'in Tea Cups.
  • Flying Scooters : A predecessor to the current Seabreeze Flyers. The design and location of the ride were almost exactly the same.
  • Quantum Loop : A steel looping roller coaster manufactured by Soquet. Opened in 1994 after the fire at the park's north end destroyed many of the park's other rides. The ride consisted of an almost six story climb, then dropped down to rush through two consecutive vertical loops and then went through a few turns before hitting the final brake run. The ride had yellow painted track and white painted supports. The ride was removed in 2003 to be replaced by Whirlwind. After removal, Seabreeze sold the ride to Salitre Magico in Colombia where it still operates as Double Loop.
  • Greyhound : A wooden side-friction design wooden roller coaster. Opened in 1916 as "Dips", but renamed for no known reason in 1926 to Greyhound. The ride consisted of several drops that were about a few feet tall and some flat turns (think of it as a really old version of the currently operating Bobsleds). The old loading station for Greyhound is still on site, but reused as the building for the Bumper Cars.
  • Figure Eight : This was Seabreeze Amusement Park's first roller coaster. Opening in 1903, this roller coaster was designed by Fredrick Ingersoll at a cost of $20,000. The ride featured individual cars with upholstered leather seats, finished in cream and maroon colors. The ride was located just to the south of where the Jack Rabbit's station is today. The coaster was of a side-friction design. It closed at the end of the 1915 season and was removed in the winter of 1915–1916.
  • Wild Cat : A wooden roller coaster designed by Herbert Paul Schmeck and built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters. The Wild Cat was located in the large ravine that bisects the park, where the Log Flume is located today. Wild Cat operated from 1926 to 1935. Some claim that the ride was destroyed by fire in 1935, but no evidence to support this claim has been found.
  • Bunny Rabbit : A steel kiddie roller coaster manufactured by Allen Herschell Company. Operated from 1985 to 1996 and replaced by Bear Trax.
  • Round up : A ride that consisted of a circular rotating platform that kept riders stuck to the wall using g-forces while the platform raised to a more vertical position.
  • Paratrooper : A circular ride with swinging gondolas connected along a frame. When the ride starts, the frame spins at about a 45 degree angle, sending the gondolas for a fling.
  • Ghost Train : Another one of the rides burnt beyond repair in the 1994 fire. The ride consisted of powered carts that moved past low light spooky scenes inside a small show building. The ride was re-themed to the Enchanter in the 1970s.

The Jack Rabbit[edit]

The Jack Rabbit is an "out and back" wooden roller coaster at Seabreeze. Opened in 1920, it is the fourth oldest operating roller coaster in the world and second oldest in the USA.[3] Currently, is America's oldest continuously operating roller coaster.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Official Seabreeze website: History". Retrieved 2008-06-21.
  2. ^ "Official Seabreeze website: Coasters and More". Retrieved 2008-06-21.
  3. ^ "National Amusement Park Historic Association, World's Oldest Operating Roller Coasters". Retrieved 2008-06-21.

External links[edit]