LAKE GEORGE, NY -- The Comet is an icon, a classic, a universal favorite that perennially is chosen as one of the top ten roller coasters in the world.
It’s undergone two homes and two facelifts, but continues to provide unsurpassed thrills after more than half a century.
The Comet was first constructed in 1927 by legendary coaster builder Harry Traver. Back then it was called the Cyclone, and it was thought by many to be the most intense coaster ever. It had a laminated wood track and a steel superstructure, but was considered to be a wooden coaster by definition.
The Cyclone's first home was Crystal Beach Amusement Park in Ridgeway, Ontario (Canada), a short distance from Buffalo, NY. The Cyclone enjoyed a robust life until 1946 when decreased park patronage and increased ride maintenance led the park to dismantle it. Crystal Beach then contracted with the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) and Herbert Schmeck, considered one of the best coaster designers of all time, for the design and construction of a new, larger coaster.
To save money, the new coaster was built with steel salvaged from the Cyclone. It featured a low-profile layout, which saved on materials, and produced the unbridled speed that riders crave. Unveiled in 1948 as The Crystal Beach Comet, the new coaster was thought by many to be the best of its kind because of its classic profile and thrilling interplay of G-forces.
When Crystal Beach Amusement Park closed in 1989 after its 101st season, enthusiasts mourned the loss of The Comet. A month later, the coaster was rescued from destruction when Charles R. Wood, owner of The Great Escape Fun Park in Lake George, NY, purchased The Comet for a record $210,000.
After a lengthy approval process and several years of storage, reconstruction of this world-class wooden coaster began in earnest in October 1993. More than 49 tractor-trailer loads of steel crossed New York State while more than 1,000 concrete footers were poured at The Great Escape. The complex process of sandblasting, restoring, priming, and reassembling thousands of steel subassemblies was handled entirely in-house by park personnel.
In designing The Comet's station, The Great Escape restored the elegant roof trusses and the 1920s style that was originally featured on the Crystal Beach Cyclone. A new, laminated Douglas Fir track was built. Two new trains were ordered from PTC, and every effort was made to duplicate the original trains as closely as possible. The Comet was also fitted with new safety and control systems.
After The Comet re-opened at The Great Escape/Splashwater Kingdom in 1994, enthusiasts selected it as the world’s number one roller coaster.
The Comet, once "Queen of the Lake," now reigns as "King of the Hills" at its new home in the Adirondacks, where it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998. It still delivers an exhilarating ride -- with the old-fashioned smoothness of its youth, and the intensity and speed of its modern improvements.
The Great Escape is owned by Six Flags, Inc., the world’s largest regional theme park company with 39 parks, including parks in North America, Latin America and Europe. Six Flags parks serve 20 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The parks annually host more than 50 million guests worldwide. A publicly held corporation with corporate offices in New York and Oklahoma City, the company’s stock trades on the NYSE under the symbol: PKS.