From 1888 until 1989 Crystal Beach was home to The Crystal Beach Amusement Park. Situated across from Buffalo, New York, Crystal Beach was a huge tourist draw with thousands of passengers arriving daily from the American side on the steam-powered ferry "Canadiana".
Ballrooms and bathhouses made up the waterfront with Big Bands playing into the wee hours of the morning. Known for its stomach churning roller coasters, the park was a landmark in the area for over 100 years. In 1989 the park was sold to make way for a gated community and many of the rides were sold off to other amusement parks in Canada and the U.S.
Memories of a Crystal Beach Amusement Park Patron:
Going to Crystal Beach was always a big treat. The first time I experienced the park I was 10 years old. My family had decided to visit Crystal Beach Amusement Park because my father's company picnic was being held there. I had been allowed to bring along a school friend.
The first ride my older brother insisted we go on was the Comet roller coaster. I had never been on a ride larger than the mechanical horse that you put a nickel into at the grocery store. I will never forget the sheer terror of those final moments as we slowly inched to the top and then the exhilaration of the descent. In the few moments after my panic subsided I was struck by the sheer beauty of the lake to my right... it felt like you were going to fall into it.
There was another roller coaster, a wooden yellow one that was smaller and not quite as thrilling. However, the wooden construction gave the ride a rhythm that you cannot duplicate with a metal roller coaster. After an exhausting day of rides the yellow coaster was our chance to unwind and relax. We would always ride the yellow roller coaster several times as the line ups were never as long as they were for the Comet, although we never rode the yellow roller coaster until after we had taken on the giant Comet.
There were many other rides and a beautiful beach, however we lived close to the beaches of Lake Ontario, and at that time there were more of them and you could swim at all of them. We were there for the rides and though my memory is somewhat vague I believe that you paid one price at the gate and then all the rides were free. There may have been a nominal charge for the more popular rides though.
The two items of food that I can remember as being unique to Crystal Beach were the Sugar Waffles and the candy suckers. You could not leave the park without experiencing either. The candy suckers would be purchased and saved until the end of our day....making the ride home seem less painful, and no doubt giving our parents some much needed peace and quiet.
When the park finally closed in 1989 the locals and many others were quite upset. You can't really blame them. Many people had such wonderful memories of the park so it was hard to let go. To see it being dismantled and sold off to the highest bidder was quite disheartening. And yet as if that wasn't bad enough the park was going to experience the ultimate indignation. Crystal Beach Amusement Park, an area that for so long, so many had enjoyed, was going to become a gated community!
That pretty much sealed the community's fate. Crystal Beach, the town, has never been able to sustain itself without the huge influx of tourists. It is very sad and I think it was some bad decision making on whoever let that property go because today it could have been made into something that could have benefited the whole community.