'Best ride here!" yells David Haring, 11, as he gets off the Hurricane roller coaster at Adventureland in Farmingdale. He says he loves the surge of adrenaline he feels as the coaster roars up a hill, then plunges downward.
But that thrill will soon be gone.
The Massapequa Park sixth-grader expressed disappointment to learn that the "best ride" -- a coaster that's been eliciting screams from visitors to the amusement park for 23 years -- is closing on Columbus Day.
But never fear, coaster aficionados. The Hurricane is being dismantled to bring in a state-of-the-art ride that is supposed to be even more thrilling, tentatively scheduled to open in time for Adventureland's April 2015 opening weekend. The new coaster, which is costing the park $5 million, will have a caterpillar-style train made up of three separate cars fitting four people each that can spin 360 degrees as they simultaneously race downhill.
The imminent demise of the Hurricane has some grown-ups feeling nostalgic.
"It reminds me of my childhood," Michelle Schroeder, 39, of Hauppauge, says on a visit to Adventureland as she waits for her kids, Sofia, 10, and Nicholas, 7, to disembark. "I have such fond memories of going on it over and over again as a kid. This was the big weekend place to go."
Adventureland manager Steven Gentile, who helped install the Hurricane decades ago, says adults will tell him they rode it with their first girlfriend or boyfriend. "People really are attached to it, which I find neat," he says.
Tim Buksa, 49, of Farmingdale says he and his wife, Pam, will likely visit Adventureland on the final Columbus Day weekend to ride the Hurricane one last time -- they did much the same thing when Nunley's Carousel closed in Baldwin in 1995.
Debbie LoPiccolo, 39, of Floral Park has mixed feelings about the change. "I remember coming with my cousin. . . . It's sad to see it go, but it's time for a change, too. It's bittersweet."
The Hurricane is 50 feet tall and goes up to 35 miles an hour. It has two trains, one yellow and one red, and each ride cycle is 45 seconds. Each train fits 12 people, two in each of its six seats.
The new coaster will be taller -- 55 feet -- and go faster -- up to 40 miles an hour. It also will have two trains, one yellow and one green, and a 45-second ride cycle. The good news for kids: The height restriction on the new ride -- 42 inches -- is 6 inches lower than for the Hurricane. "It brings the age of the ride down two to three years," Gentile says. The new ride will sit in the same spot as the Hurricane, toward the middle of the park, across from the Ghost House.
"I'm excited to see what the new one is," says Griffin Buksa, 8, of Farmingdale. "But I'm sad this one is going away."
Win the last ride
Adventureland is raffling off the seats on the Hurricane's final ride on Columbus Day as a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism.
Each of the roller coaster's two trains fits 12 people, for a total of 24 last riders. The six highest donors for each charity -- with donations made through the Adventureland.us website -- will win the first six seats on each train.
The remaining 12 seats will be picked at random from among everyone who makes at least a $5 donation.
Name the new coaster
Compete to name the new roller coaster and possibly win a three-year season pass to Adventureland. Vote on your favorite of five names already in the running at Adventureland.us -- and then add a suggestion of your own.
The five in the running are Mantis, Turbulence, Boomerang, The Jester and The Rotator. The Rotator is included because it is a tool used in potato farming, and Adventureland used to be a potato farm. Mantis, as in praying mantis, matches the park's bug theme for its other rides, including the Ladybug Coaster.
If one of those five names is chosen by the park, a winner will be selected from everyone who voted for that choice. If, instead, an original selection is chosen, that person will be declared winner. Participants must be 13 or older, but the winner can give the prize to a child.