Crystal Beach Amusement Park
Crystal Beach was home to one of the world’s most famous dance halls: THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM. During it’s heyday, people would flock to the Crystal Ballroom just for the dancing, sometimes without bothering to check out the rest of the park.
The plans for the Crystal Ballroom were first approved in October of 1924, designed by Brantford, Ontario’s Schultz Brothers. Construction began in November of the same year, and was complete the following April. The Crystal Ballroom opened its doors on May 1st, 1925. In total, the hall cost $80,790 to build, although it was advertised as “The Quarter-Million Dollar” Hall.
The hall could hold 3000 dancers at one time, and it was often quite full. Musicians and Orchestras performed on a stage built directly in the center of the hall so that the music would sound out to all corners. A huge mirrorball dangled from the ceiling above the stage to add some glitz.
In later years, the stage was move to one end of the floor, and a modern audio system was installed.
In the later 1970’s the hall was converted into the ‘Big Top’ Restaurant, but was converted back into a dance hall in the year 1984.
The Comet Rollercoaster was officially open for business in 1948. The famous wooden coaster was constructed with a large chunk of materials from “the Cyclone”, another famous coaster from Crystal Beach. The Comet is arguably the most popular attraction from the Crystal Beach Amusement Park.
Designer Herb Schmeck (who had much to do with the revitalization of the Cyclone years prior) created the Comet as part of three coaster series. The Hersheypark “Comet” (1946) and the San Antonio “Rocket”(1947) each share similar track design and features as the Crystal Beach Comet.
Most thrill seekers that road the Comet would tell you that the best part was climbing that first 96 foot hill while gazing down on the lake water. Right as you began to descend, you could look up and get a great view of the Buffalo Skyline accross the lake. In the year 1985, the park actually modified the trains of the Comet, splitting them in half, so that one could ride facing backwards or forwards. This really made it 2 rides in one!
The Crystal Beach Comet used three 4-car, 3-bench trains. Designed in the ‘double out & back’ style, 29 metres high, with a drop of 27 metres, 1280 metres long. These strong measurements made it the longest in the Schmeck Comet Series. Originally, the trains inluded windscreens on the front cars and bars on the the sides of the seats to aid riders in entering and exiting the cars. The ride open on May 22, 1948. When the Crystal Beach Amusement Park Closed, the Comet was sold for $210,000 and moved to the Albany area park ‘the Great Escape”.
In 1975, the Smithsonian Institute rated the Comet in it’s top 10 coasters in the world.