Vintage Rides from What Used to be Fantasy Island
Fantasy Island amusement park on Grand Island played a part in so many Western New Yorkers' lives growing up. And when the park announced it was shutting its gates for good in February of 2020, it felt like a small part of all of us died.
The park, originally opened in July of 1961 and was a part of Western New York summers for the next six decades. But at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Doug Mandell, the marketing director for Fantasy Island, released a statement announcing that the park would be closing for good. Over the next year, several of the rides that Western New Yorkers had grown to love over the years, were dismantled and sold off to other parks around the country. One by one, the rides started to disappear from the Grand Island landscape, as the future of the park grew darker by the day.
Then, in May of 2021, a new lease on life was granted to the dying park by a Chicago investor, Gene Staples, who purchased the park with plans to upgrade and renovate the property. Vandalism had run rampant in the park, and lots of work needed to be done, and it was eventually announced that 'Fantasy Island' would be re-opening in 2022 under its new name, 'Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World". Only two rides remain from the Fantasy Island days; The Silver Comet Roller Coaster and the Ferris Wheel.
The park did reopen for the tail end of the 2021 season, but only featured the splash park. The first new ride is being installed at the park currently, with many more new additions on the way for the 2022 season.
As we all anxiously await the debut of the "Niagara Amusement Park and Splash World", we thought we would take a trip down memory lane, and revisit some of the vintage rides of 'Fantasy Island'