Favorite Boblo Island Rides

For nearly 100 years, Boblo Island was a summer destination for people in the Detroit and Windsor areas. Located just a short boat ride from downtown Detroit, the island amusement park was home to many memorable rides and attractions. Let’s take a look at a few of them: 

Carousel 

carousel

Originally opened around 1906 as the park’s first proper ride, Boblo’s carousel was a beautiful example of the work of the famed Coney Island-based carousel designers William F. Mangels and Marcus Illions. Riders were able to select from 44 horses, two goats, and two deer, each intricately carved. Originally the carousel was accompanied by the music of a German-made organ, however in the carousel’s later years pre-recorded music was used instead. In 1987, the carousel underwent a major restoration on both the individual figures and the ride’s lights, as well as the installation of a new organ.

However, by 1990, the park’s shifting owners decided that rather than continue to subject the artifact to the wear and tear of daily operation, they would controversially auction it off piecemeal, with each animal fetching in the tens of thousands of dollars, for a grand total of $860,000.

You can see some color footage of the carousel in action here.   

The Screamer 

screamer

Opened in 1985, Boblo’s Screamer was a steel coaster notable for its corkscrew segment. The ride kicked off with a 75-foot drop and reached speeds of 40 miles per hour. After Boblo Island closed in 1993, the Screamer was sold to Vancouver’s Playland, where it remained in operation until 2018 as the Corkscrew. While the ride is no more, thanks to Vancouver’s active film industry, the Screamer lives on in the many movies and television shows that were filmed at Playland, including a pivotal scene aboard the coaster in the horror film Final Destination 3.

If you’d like to relive a ride on the Screamer from the safety of your own chair, check out this video from our collection.  

The Log Flume

log flume

The Log Flume provided the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day. This rustic-themed water ride included a 40-foot plunge into water along its 1200-foot ride. The ride was opened in 1972 and remained a favorite for the remainder of the park’s seasons. One of the logs from the ride is part of the Detroit Historical Society’s collection

You can see the ride in motion here.

Miniature Railroad

railroad

Boblo’s miniature railroad was perfect for those interested in something more leisurely than the island’s rollercoaster. The railroad began operating on the island in 1956. In the ride’s final incarnation, the train itself was a scale recreation of Central Pacific Railroad’s 19th century C.P. Huntington. Boblo’s trains made a 20-minute circuit around about 2 miles of track encircling the island. During the ride passengers would see points of interest, including the Amherstburg channel, the picnic area, the Sailor’s Monument, the dance pavilion, the island’s water filtration plant and pumping station, the marina, the blockhouse, and the lighthouse.  

Super-Satelite Jet Ride

railaroad

Boblo’s visitors were able to get in on the excitement surrounding the space race, with the Super-Satellite Jets, added in 1957. This attraction was manufactured in Germany by Kasper Klaus and consisted of a rotating ring of rocket-shaped gondolas, each supported by a separate arm from the ride’s central axel. Riders were able to raise and lower the sweep of their individual rocket using a control lever.  The Satellite Jets remained in service until the park’s final season in 1993.

Check out the Satellite Jets in motion in a 1962 film here. 

 

Sky Tower

sky tower

Boblo’s aptly named Sky Tower took passengers up to a height of 214 feet, offering not only a spectacular view of the island, but also the Detroit River from its rotating observation cabin. Promotional material promised a 20-mile view encompassing Michigan, Ontario, and Ohio. The tower was opened at Boblo Island in 1986, having originally been located at California’s Ports o’ Call Village. After the park’s closure, the tower remained a fixture on the Amherstburg skyline until December 2, 2021 when it was demolished.  

 

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