Location: South Midway
Designed By: William F. Mangels
Manufactured By: W.F. Mangels Company – Coney Island, New York
Ride Model: The Whip
Number Of Cars: 10 or 12
German immigrant, William F. Mangels began his amusement device manufacturing company on Coney Island in 1890. Over the next few decades, he was responsible for many of the early rides and games at Coney Island from carousels to shooting galleries. His inventions were well-known outside of Coney Island as well. One of his contributions to ride technology was the overhead device that recreated the galloping motion for carousel horses. He developed several rides including The Whip, which was patented in 1914. Its popularity quickly spread across to parks and traveling carnivals throughout the country.
For those unfamiliar with the ride, imagine a larger version of Lagoon’s more recent kiddie ride, Red Rock Rally. Carriages were attached to a cable that rotated around two motorized discs. As cars were pulled around the oval track, they picked up speed and whipped around the disc at each end.
Lagoon’s Whip very rarely appears in any historical accounts of the park and photos are rare, too. When the ride does appear in photos, it’s usually obscured or in the background. It operated for many decades, yet few acknowledge its existence.
The Whip was one of a handful of new rides introduced in 1925. Mangels modified carriage designs on later models. It’s possible that Lagoon updated their carriages over time like they have done on other rides like the Captive Aeroplanes (which were replaced with large, shiny Rockets).
On a 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, The Whip is shown on the Midway south of the Carousel. This seems to be where the ride stayed throughout its time at Lagoon.
An overhead structure seems to have been introduced in 1947 when many buildings were retrofitted or rebuilt with a modern architectural style. When a large fire spread through half the park in November 1953, The Whip survived with only minimal damage.
Luckily, film footage of The Whip and other rides have been shared online. In the video below, you can see Lagoon’s Whip in action in 1962 (starting at the 0:22 mark). At that time, the Space Scrambler sat just north of The Whip with the Speedway to the west and Rockets to the east. This area was the southern end of the Midway at the time.
Photos of the park in 1972 show The Whip had been removed by then. In 1975, the station for the Wild Kingdom Train was built very close to where The Whip used to be.
After Mangels’ death in 1958, his son took over the business, but eventually the company went bankrupt in the 1970s. Very few vintage Whips operate today. Most of them can be found in the northeastern United States in parks like Kennywood, Knoebels and Coney Island.
See one of the early W.F. Mangels catalogs.
Griffin, Al. Step Right Up, Folks!, Regnery, Chicago. 1974.
Lagoon ready for big opening Saturday. Salt Lake Telegram, 26 May 1925.
W.F. Mangels and his “Amusing” Career. BklynLibrary.org, 31 Aug 2009.