Driving down Florida’s I-95, you may notice something that stands out among the usual buildings and billboards: a big ol’ wooden roller coaster. You may also notice how, despite being completely intact, there’s not a single cart zipping along the track. This is the Dania Beach Hurricane: once a great attraction that thrilled South Florida residents, now a lifeless corpse left to rot.
The Hurricane opened in 2000 at Dania Beach’s Boomers! park. If you’re not familiar with Boomers!, they’re a chain of family entertainment centers of rapidly declining quality, featuring arcades, rides, mini-golf, and other such things. For the most part, these attractions are the usual cheap amusement park fare… bumper cars, go-carts, laser tag, you know the drill. But the Hurricane was another matter. This was a roller coaster… an honest-to-god, full fledged roller coaster. And a damn good one at that! Sure, it was a wooden coaster and as such, had no inversions… but it was a great ride nonetheless, and a huge hit. Easily visible from I-95, the Hurricane drew in crowds and became something of a South Florida landmark.
Then, in April 2011, the coaster closed and hasn’t operated since. So what the hell happened? Why would such a great attraction close its doors so suddenly? Well, simply put… the economy. You see, the Dania Beach Hurricane was actually owned, operated, and maintained by a third party… not Boomers. And when the economy went to shit, the company went bankrupt, forcing them to shut down the ride. And of course, Boomers is not legally allowed to operate or tear down the ride themselves, so essentially they’ve got a 100-foot-tall pile of junk that someone dumped in their backyard that they can’t do anything about.
So what now? Well, in 2012 there were plans to sell the coaster, but they fell through. And in 2013, the company offered to straight up give the damn thing to anyone who’d be willing to dismantle it, but there were no takers. So for now, the Hurricane is just sitting there, slowly rotting away, serving as a memorial to its own legacy. On one hand, seeing the Hurricane looming on the horizon brings back fond memories… but on the other hand, leaving it to the elements is an unfitting end for the coaster. Boomers is still open, but without the Hurricane it feels like just a fraction of its former self.. but if nothing else, at least you can pay your respects to a fallen giant.