The Velvet Coaster, the Whirl the Whirl, and the Circle Swing

The Velvet Coaster was installed in Wonderland in 1907, the year after it opened. It was much more of what we think of as a “roller coaster” than the LaMarcus Thompson Scenic Railway, with its gentle up-and-down undulations. The Velvet Coaster had steeper drops and more sudden turns, but it was still not as jarring as other roller coasters, hence the name “Velvet” Coaster. They hoped to appeal to a crowd not looking for extreme attractions.

The Velvet coaster went in just North of the Shoot the Chutes tower, and just west of Louis Bopp’s Carousel

In the panorama below, taken from the top of the Shoot the chutes tower in 1907, you can see the Velvet Coaster in the lower left:

Directly above the Velvet Coaster is the building housing the Carousel, and above that is the building housing Descent into the Hell Gate.

Whirl the Whirl

The Whirl the Whirl was the invention of J. Harry Welsh, master mechanic at Luna Park, one of the Big Three Coney Island amusement parks. The first one was erected in Alhambra Court at Luna Park, and I give you postcards of that installation, because there are no good views of the ride as it appeared at Wonderland

You can get glimpses of the ride off to one side in images from Wonderland, but not very good ones. I have no idea why they didn’t photograph this ride — possibly because, like the Carousel (which also appears in no Wonderland postcards) it was owned and operated by Louis Bopp, an independent manager who had other attractions on Revere Beach Boulevard.

Hard to see image of the Whirl the Whirl seen in front of the Infant Incubator building (taken from the top of the Shoot the chutes ride)

In this image of the Indians from Kennedy’s Wild West Show you can see the vertical shaft of the Whirl the Whirl between the Infant Incubator and the outer towers of the Wonderland entrance.

Drawing from Welsh’s Patent for the Whirl the Whirl

Top view of the Whirl the Whirl from Welsh’s patent, along with a close-up of the mechanism.

Welsh created a company to build his ride, and it appears to have been put up elsewhere in the country, and in traveling shows, but under a different name.

The Circle Swing

The Circle Swing, also called the Airships, was the invention of Harry Guy Traver. The ride went up in several parks and traveling shows (he had three different standard sizes), and the profit from it enabled him to create many other rides (he invented the Caterpillar, still a popular ride). He also went on to build what many still think of as the most extreme and terrifying roller coasters, including the Cyclone and the Lightning on Revere Beach.

Two of the cars on the Circle Swing, with tents for Ferari’s Animal Show and Trixie the Equine Wonder in the background

Postcard showing the Circle Swing tower, with the Third Degree in the bbackground

Photograph showing the Circle Swing tower (on the right) and the Palmist’s building band The Third Degree funhouse on the left. Notice the Boardwalk — all of the pedestrian walks in Wonderland were wooden boardwalks raised 2-3 feet above the ground.

Here are drawings from Traver’s patent:

Here are images of the cars used in the Circle Swing:

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