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Astroland is Dead


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NY Post Link: Astroland is Closing For Good on Sunday

 

Article:

 

Astroland is dead.

 

The longtime operator of the fabled Coney Island amusement park confirmed today that the 46-year-old Coney Island icon will close its doors for good Sunday because a new lease deal couldn't timely be reached.

 

As The Post first reported on its Web site Friday, Carol Albert threatened to shut down the park if she didn't get a two-year lease extension by 1 p.m. today at the same rate from Astroland's landlord, controversial developer Joe Sitt.

 

The deadline passed with both sides not even talking and Sitt waiting to see if Albert was bluffing.

 

Sitt spokesman Stefan Friedman told the Post the developer won't negotiate "through the media or with a gun held to his head." Rather, he'll wait and see whether Albert really pulls out after the deadline.

 

He pointed out that the current lease doesn't expire until the end of the year, although Albert has said she needs the extra months to sell off her rides before the lease expires or face hefty penalties from Sitt for failing to vacate the land on time.

 

The landmarked Cyclone rollercoaster at Astroland is not affected and will remain where it is.

 

Sitt plans to replace Astroland with new amusements next season. But critics point out that the developer failed miserably this summer when he arranged to have temporary rides and attractions come to vacant boardwalk land he owns off Stillwell Avenue as they were a huge flop.

 

Many expected Astroland to return in 2009 since the city is at least a year away from implementing an area rezoning plan that, in part, would replace the park and other attractions with new amusements.

 

Astroland's potential closing comes while many other boardwalk business owners who rent from Sitt are also sweating it out over whether they'll be back next summer. Like Astroland, they had to wait out a lease extension a year ago also.

 

"I don't know why they wouldn't bring us back – especially when they don't have anything to replace us with?" said a concerned Dianna Carlin, owner of the Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique.

 

She also questioned whether Coney Island's economy would take a serious hit without a major anchor, such as Astroland.

 

It was unclear just how far apart both sides are in dollars, but Albert's lawyer told Sitt's lawyer in a letter dated Friday that the park has seen expenses increase since last year, particularly a $700,000 surge in insurance costs.

 

Astroland was seeking a multiple year lease, in part, to give its workers some stability.

 

The Albert family sold the 3.1-acre Astroland property to Sitt's firm Thor Equities in 2006 for $30 million, but negotiated last year's deal to squeeze in at least one final go-round for Astroland and its employees, many of whom are neighborhood residents with years of service.

 

 

It's too bad, they had some great rides (Breakdance, Top Spin 2, AstroTower.) The Cyclone is of course staying but next to it will be a vacant lot of some sort.

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Yay! Why don't they take out the Cyclone as well?

 

That park was scarier than any theme park Halloween event I've been to.

 

Ah! You suck! They ran their rides on insane cycles, that's why I liked the park so much. I think you have to be from the area to appreciate the park.

 

But to answer your question, it's a landmark. That doesn't mean that Joe Sitt won't burn it down or something and build a condo on its spot.

 

UPDATE: I saw this over at the Coney Island Message Board...

 

STATEMENT BY CAROL HILL ALBERT,

CO-OWNER OF ASTROLAND AMUSEMENT PARK

 

I am making this statement today to set the record straight. I have not “given up on Coney Island” as Thor Equities has stated. I have given up on trying to get Thor to negotiate which I have attempted to do every month since June, and numerous times in August. Each time their response was, “We have no answer.” The safety of our customers and our commitment to employees means our time has run out. Ride parts must be ordered a minimum of eight to 10 months in advance. My employees cannot live in a state of limbo any longer. It takes six months to pack up a three-acre amusement park that has been in operation for 46 years, so a January 31st deadline means start packing yesterday. We are out of time.

 

Today I notified Astroland’s employees that the amusement park will cease operations permanently at the end of the day on Sunday, September 7th. Many in the community had hoped along with us that Astroland could remain open to keep the lights on in Coney Island until the rezoning issue had been resolved, because carnival rides, as the “Summer of Hope” sadly proved, are no substitute for a permanent amusement park. However, when even our good friend, Councilman Domenic Recchia could do nothing to persuade Thor to negotiate, it became clear we had no choice but to close the business permanently on Sunday night, September 7th.

 

Coney Island's future as a tourism and amusement destination is clearly in peril. Thor equities, which now owns most of Coney Island, came onto the development scene showing beautiful renderings of this great 21st century amusement park they were promising to build. All indications however, are that their real priority is retail and high end housing. There is a real question as to whether Coney Island will ever have amusements, other than the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel in its future. Instead it appears to be that a series of shopping malls and condos will replace amusement parks as the centerpiece of the Coney Island that has been here for over 100 years. This is a tragic loss for the City of New York and visitors around the world.

 

Astroland Kiddie Park and the Cyclone Roller Coaster will open for the last weekend on Friday, Sept 5 at 12:00 noon. Major thrill rides will open at 4 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, all attractions will open at 12:00 noon.

 

We invite all New Yorkers to come to Astroland this weekend to bid farewell to this historic icon.

And we look forward to seeing many of our loyal patrons on opening day for the Cyclone roller coaster, Sunday April 5, 2009.

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I really enjoyed our stop at Coney on the ECT. It was a place I have always wanted to go, so I am glad that I had the opportunity. Occasionally areas were scetchy, but that is also some of the atmosphere that just fits with the destination.

 

The Breakdance was crazy! I liked the test cycles the op would run just to let people know speak now, or hold your peace and everything else 'til the cycle is over!

 

Glad to see the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone aren't on the chopping block yet. Cyclone may have been rough, but it is a definite classic and would be a loss. (Not like the Hurler in it's various forms...modern built crap coasters of pain)

 

I hope they work something out. A permanent park would be cool, and they could still get the authentic theming involved as well. Kind of a harder edge Wildwood.

 

Anyway, losing any rides to condo development absolutely sucks. I hope that is not the way this goes.

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I have to agree!! Coney Island and Astroland are Classic!!

It might have been a bit sketchy, Yes!!

But I am also glad I had the opportunity to go and visit this park!!

It's one of those things where you can say, "Wow I was just there, now it's gone"!!

I really had a great time out there!!

I'm sad to hear the park is going through this!!

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That is very sad, Astroland is such an iconic and historic place. When they close down, a lot of great memories will go with it. But it looks like economics is going to win out, Thor just want to make money, and gentrify the area which will increase the value of their developments.

 

We have a similiar situation in Sydney with Luna Park which sits on probably the most sought after piece of real estate in Sydney. The State government protects the site but gradually developers are wearing them down, all the park is now is a wild mouse, some flats, and the original coney island at the back which is kind of a funhouse with big wooden slides and other cool stuff.

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I'm so sick of this drama...

 

I honestly knew that things were going to fall apart in this whole development. This is the same thing that has happened worldwide as developers move into these locations.

 

I really would like to see a combined shopping and amusement area work. I mean heck they could make an amazing setting with bars and clubs along with a mix of great rides. It just doesn't seem to be on the minds of these developers who only want to cash out as quickly as possible.

 

Honestly I am so glad I got there this year on the ECT and I am really sad I didn't get on more rides.

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That's very sad!

 

I went to Coney Island once. I used to see the pictures of Astroland on the internet - specially at JoyRides - and almost cried when I left the subway station and saw the Cyclone running.

 

It remainded me now, an amusement park that we used to have in Rio called Tivoli Park. Was in a boardwalk too and was part of the childhood of all cariocas (people who were born in Rio).

 

It closed down in 1995, after 22 years of operation.

 

It was the home of my first inversion coaster: a Vekoma Whirlwind.

 

Two pictures:

Me in front of the ferris wheel at Tivoli Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (I'm the blond kid)

 

and the kid rides at Astroland. Picture taken by me in 2002.

 

Very sad day today....

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rodapanoramica.thumb.jpg.21721d3b836de30a10e795e6a3dfc535.jpg

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This is horrible. Coney Island is a HUGE piece of amusement park history. It's bad enough taking down single historical rides *cough*King Cobra*cough*, but the father park of all our modern rides? I'm really mad that I never got the chance to make it up there. Honestly, the only good that will come out of this is that now people will actually recognize CI Ohio when then name Coney Island comes up.

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The Cyclone is owned by the city, Astroland just had an agreement to operate the ride, I'm sure they will find an operator for the next season.

 

Also, the Wonder Wheel is not apart of Astroland. Deno's Wonder Wheel park is safe and is not owned by Thor, that park has not been sold as reveled in a few news releases and will be operating in 2009 from all knowledge.

 

Astroland consists of the log flume, tower area between the fences by the Wonder Wheel and across the street from the Cyclone. So the Miler coaster is safe as well as the Spook-A-Rama dark ride across from the Wonder Wheel. Sadly the cool little Big Apple coaster is apart of Astroland .. I love that turntable.

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My son & I went there today and confirmed that Cyclone and all the rides at Deno's (including the Wonder Wheel & Super Shot drop tower) will be operational next year. Although Astroland will be gone, Cyclone will be operated by the same staff (they have a two year contract independent of the Astroland being operational).

What will be missed is the Big Apple kiddie coaster, Pirate Ship & Top Spin. I hope they find room at Deno's or Kiddie Park for some of Astroland's rides (especially the Big Apple).

We now need CIDC to get their butts in gear with getting the zoning laws changed so that they can begin to build the new park. It will take a couple of years to get the project underway, so it's a shame that Astroland couldn't stay open until that time. There are already three empty lots at Coney Island and it looks like the fourth will be the biggest eyesore of them all.

 

Here are the artist's drawings of what the park will look like if CIDC gets their way:

 

Here is the link to the CIDC site:

http://www.thecidc.org/

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Here's a funny photo I came across on the Coney Island Message Board. It's the proposed park under Thor's and the cities (CIDC) revised plans:

 

lol

 

Anyway, I just got back from Astroland for my final jaunt at the park. The Top Spin was working when I got there but closed down for most of the night after that. I got the obligatory Cyclone ride and took two spins on the Breakdance. The first time around I actually shot a POV video on it, so you'll get to see that soon. The ride op was awesome, at one point he said "I wanna see this on YouTube!" over the mic. After I gave a thumbs up, he decided to put us through the spin cycle some more. It was about a 5-5:30 minute ride in total. Now that's what I'm talking about!

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