At a press conference at the New York Aquarium on February 16, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials put to rest the ongoing fears that Coney Island and its historic amusement zone would be lost to condos or a Las Vegas style resort courtesy of a developer who had bought up much of the land.
Instead, on Memorial Day Weekend, Luna Park at Coney Island, a brand new amusement park on the site of the former Astroland will be opened by Central Amusement International (CAI), the park division of Antonio Zamperla SPA. Operating on a ten year lease from the city, which now owns the land, it will open with 19 rides, games, shops, food and live entertainment, and operate daily until Labor Day this year and possibly weekends through Columbus Day.
Full details of the rides are not yet available. What is known is that Zamperla will be making the debut of its Air Race airplane ride at this park. Also known are the intentions to install a Mega Disk’O and a Midi Discovery. Of particular interest to ACE members will be a Speedy Discovery Coaster, a new design that from the press image appears similar to Zamperla’s Family Gravity Coaster. If true, this coaster would be reminiscent of a ride experienced by the membership at Coaster Con XXXII - Grand Exposition Coaster at Silver Dollar City.
The excitement continues next summer when CAI opens Phase 2 with Scream Zone at Coney Island, an additional 3 acres between W12th and W15th Streets along the boardwalk. A Sling Shot, go-carts and two custom roller coasters are planned for the Scream Zone.
Cyclone, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, McCorrough's Kiddie Park, 12th Street Amusements, the Freak Show and the El Dorado will all continue under their current leases and ownership. Fears that the city might try to take Deno’s from ACE member Dennis Vourderis and his family seem to have also been put to rest.
The iconic Astro Tower will be preserved and used as signage for the new park, however, it will no longer be operational. The historic B&B Carousel, currently under restoration, will be reinstalled near the Parachute Drop as a centerpiece of the new Steeplechase Plaza.
Central Amusement International is currently showcasing Zamperla rides as a kiddie park with the Victorian Gardens on the Wollman Ice Rink in Cental Park in Manhattan. There is no reason to expect a duplication of rides at Luna Park. The Zamperla product line has plenty of family, ‘tween and thrill rides than what they’ve already introduced to New York.
Finally, for the credit counters among us, the coaster world has lost a Wacky Worm with Astroland’s Big Apple and a kids-only Dragon Wagon at McCorrough’s Kiddie Park. The legendary Cyclone and Deno’s Sea Serpent remain. With the addition of three new Zamperla coasters over the next two summers, Coney Island’s coaster count will soon reach five.
David Finkelstein, ACE New York City assistant regional rep