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Coney Island (Luna Park / Deno's) Development Discussion Thread

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Zamperla, the company that runs Luna Park, has won the city's bid to add lights to the famed parachute jump at Coney Island.

The company has released video of what the ride would look like if the lighting plan goes through.


The proposal is set to go before the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission on December 11.


If approved, the lights are expected to be installed and turned on by next summer.



Coney Island’s landmark Parachute Jump is finally getting its “bling.”


The city’s Economic Development Corp. has tapped the seaside neighborhood’s biggest amusement operator to fulfill Borough President Marty Markowitz’s vision of overhauling the 262-foot-tall structure’s lackluster lighting system with more “bling” so it could become Brooklyn’s “Eiffel Tower.”


Zamperla USA – which runs Luna Park and other attractions – was selected to install 8,000 colored LED lights across the Parachute Jump that will be programmable for shows and special events with music.


“The Parachute Jump will finally have enough ‘bling’ to be visible even from outer space,” crowed Markowitz, who secured $2 million in city funding for the project.


The new lighting proposal is set to go before city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Dec. 11 for final blessing.


If approved, the lights are expected to be installed and running by next summer, city officials said.


“With this new lighting design, the Parachute Jump will become a beacon for the neighborhood and show that Coney Island will not only recover from Hurricane Sandy, but continue its revitalization into New York’s premier oceanfront destination,” said EDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov.


The current lighting system, created by renowned lighting artist Leni Schwendinger, was installed in 2006.


But Markowitz was so unimpressed with it – he thought it was too “artsy,” and needed “blinging up” to capture Coney Island’s flash – that he convinced the mayor and City Council in 2008 to set aside $2 million to bring a new lighting system to long-inoperable ride.


The Parachute Jump is a former ride from the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens that was relocated to Coney Island in 1941. It ceased operations in 1968 and was declared a city landmark in 1989. It is part of a revamped Steeplechase Plaza that the city is hoping to create.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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  • 3 weeks later...



Many of Coney Island's businesses and attractions plan to be open by the spring, but a full recovery of the popular seaside amusement area from superstorm Sandy's wallop may take longer to complete.


Some changes, like fewer bumper cars at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, would go largely unnoticed. Others, like the potential scrubbing of the Mermaid Parade in June, could disappoint half a million visitors and cost area businesses one of the most profitable days of the year.


Amusement operators are now spending millions to repair, restore and replace equipment swamped by a storm surge as high as 14 feet. Many attraction operators have committed to opening March 24 -- Palm Sunday -- said Dennis Vourderis, board chair for the Alliance for Coney Island and who co-owns Deno's with his brother Steve. "We are moving forward," Vourderis said. "It's having faith in Coney Island because it's a magical place."


Some attractions may not come back as quickly, he said. The New York Aquarium, for example, has yet to set a reopening date. "I understand financial constraints, but the general consensus is that Coney Island will open on time in March," he said.


'Aggressive' repair schedule


More than 10 million people visited Coney Island Beach between Memorial and Labor days last year, according to the city parks department.


During the 2012 season, which ended just before Sandy struck, 759,000 visitors flocked to family-oriented Luna Park and the thrill-ride Scream Zone, and 2.6 million rides were taken, said Ben Branham, a spokesman for the city Department of Economic Development.


The two parks sustained heavy electrical and equipment damages, while the landmark Cyclone roller coaster weathered the Oct. 29 storm, said Nicole Purmal, spokeswoman for Central Amusement International, which operates them. "No matter what, there's a deep financial gulp that we have to take right now," she said. About 400 employees work during the season at the three properties. Purmal would not give an estimate of Central Amusement's storm damages, but said the company is working with its insurer. Engineers from Italy-based ride manufacturer Zamperla arrived from Europe last month to assess the equipment, she said. "We've put an aggressive schedule together for repair and recovery," Purmal said. "Our goal is to try to get everything operational by Palm Sunday (March 24)."


The boardwalk is open, but the Steeplechase Pier remains shut for repairs. Another Coney Island cornerstone, Nathan's Famous, will be back by March or April, said Wayne Norbitz, president and chief operating officer. "No one wants to reopen more than me," he said. Nathan's has two Coney Island venues -- the flagship restaurant on Surf Avenue, and a boardwalk outpost, drawing more than a million visitors a year. The flagship was under more than 5 feet of water and must replace all its electrical and cooking equipment, sales registers and a portion of the original counter from 1916. But the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest will "absolutely" take place, he said -- "I'd probably get shot otherwise."


Hope to reopen mainstays


Less certain for 2013 is the annual Mermaid Parade in June. It is run by the nonprofit Coney Island USA, which houses the Coney Island Museum and a live theater, on West 12th Street, and plans to reopen Memorial Day after rebuilding from $450,000 in damage. "We want to do our 31st Annual Mermaid Parade, but I could see the logic of taking the year off and not overwhelming our staff and budget," said Coney Island USA'S executive artistic director, Dick Zigun. It costs more than $100,000 to stage and is usually largely sponsored by area businesses.


June will see the return of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Their stadium, MCU Park, offices, locker rooms and dugouts were flooded, and a decision will be made by spring whether the playing field sod needs to be completely replaced before the 2013 season begins, spokesman Billy Harner said. General manager Steve Cohen said the staff will work from temporary offices outside the stadium while repairs are made.


Deno's aims to reopen March 24, said Steve Vourderis, the maintenance manager, and "so far we're on schedule." The iconic 1920 Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel survived Sandy. Other attractions, including the Spook-A-Rama ride, must be rebuilt.


Earlier this month, his team began reassembling the Thunderbolt ride, whose cars were submerged in toxic stormwater and required emergency power washing. "We can't store the ride unless we know it will work in the spring, so we have to set it back up to be tested," Steve Vourderis said.


Another favorite, the 93-year-old Grandma's Predictions fortune teller, was shipped upstate for expert restoration after Sandy swamped storage areas where vintage objects were kept. Of 25 damaged bumper cars, 20 will be replaced at a total cost of $110,000.


Another area mainstay, Eldorado Auto Skooter and Arcade, is assessing $200,000 in damages as owner Gordon Lee discusses lease renewal with landlord Thor Equities. Thor chief executive Joseph Sitt said, "They'll be back" next season, but did not elaborate on current talks.


Visitors will have both familiar and new places to eat. The landmark Gargiulo's Restaurant reopened Dec. 1 after sustaining more than $2 million in damage, according to co-owner Nino Russo.


An Applebee's is planned in 12,000-square-foot space at 1217 Surf Ave. in May, said Zane Tankel, who owns dozens of franchises in that chain.


Johnny Rockets, the 1950s diner theme chain at 1223 Surf Ave., is planning in 2014 to open a $1.5 million, 6,000-square-foot restaurant next door, with an additional 2,000 square feet for expansion. The owner, Rahman Hashimi, is upbeat about Coney's future. "I might do another brand, as yet undecided, something related to a food and drink," he said.


A newcomer, Tom's Restaurant, opened on the boardwalk in September as a year-round venue and was a meeting spot for Sandy-related assistance groups. Owner Jimmy Kokotas said it was a "godsend" that the venue, a $1 million investment, had only about $8,000 in damage. He plans to stay open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the winter and extend hours in the spring. Until then, Kokotas said, he will be satisfied just to pay his workers and electric bill.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I stopped by Coney Island on the way home yesterday. The area is still recovering as many shops on Surf Avenue are still closed including Nathan's. Even the McDonald's 3 blocks from the boardwalk is still boarded up. But I still took a few pictures.


Opening Date is still Palm Sunday. March 24th.


The troubled Mega Whirl, latest word on the street is that it suffered severe saltwater damage and will not run again.


Work continues on the B&B Carousell.

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Also forgot to post a picture of the Shore Theater without the iconic vertical SHORE sign. The sign was severely damaged and was a hazard to passing traffic/pedestrians.


Shortly after Sandy



Edited by larrygator
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With the Coney Island amusement season coming up, workers are busy spending the winter trying to salvage rides before the Brooklyn landmark's new season begins. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.


Amusement park workers recently stood on the steep drop of the Cyclone, as they laid down 600 feet of new track for the famed roller coaster. Others inspected the motors of cars on Luna Park rides.


The Coney Island season starts in less than 10 weeks, but there is more than just winter maintenance being done there. They also need to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy.


"We have to dedicate all of our time to be re-opened by March," said Alberto Zamperla, the CEO of Luna Park.


Sandy hit at the end of last season so it did not disrupt park operations at the time. But it left plenty of destruction behind, mostly in the park's mechanical and electrical systems.


About five feet of water flooded motors and switches and much was ruined and rusted.


"When you open an electrical cabinet and water poured out of it, that's bad," said Valerio Ferrari, the president of Luna Park.


The storm caused about $8 millon worth of damage. All the mechanical and electrical systems are now being removed and replaced.


"Change all the electrical, test it and make sure that everything is going to work perfectly," said Zamperla.


The goal is to be ready for the traditional Palm Sunday opening, which this year falls on March 24.


Luna Park officials say they will add three new rides, including -- believe it or not -- a water ride.


"This Water Mania ride will be the first time seeing it in the world," said Ferrari.


Also new to Coney Island this season is the historic B&B Carousel opening on the boardwalk and a new lighting system for the Parachute Jump.

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The MegaWhirl, a prototype that came all the way from a Texas ride factory to debut in Coney Island, will be scrapped if a new home is not found for it soon. MegaWhirl inventor Jonathan Gordon of Gordon Rides contacted ATZ with the sad news: “Just thought you should know, I’ve been working on trying to relocate the MegaWhirl, but the damage from the storm surge has made it almost impossible. If I can’t find anyone to take the ride by the end of next week, the MegaWhirl will be demolished as per the demands of Thor Equities.” For Gordon, who signed his email, “(former) CEO/Lead Designer, GordonRides LLC,” Hurricane Sandy capped off a Coney Island season that had already been a financial disaster and bankrupted his business.


Well, I rode the MegaWhirl in the factory, and it was pretty terrible. It was slow and super loud. The way the cars were pulled around was strange. The guy that designed it was an ACEr that made up his own company, I'm pretty sure...


LOL I just watched the video in that article and you can see me sitting in the green car quite a few times, not too amused.


The MegaWhirl was honestly not that great...

What? You are an ACER?

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  • 1 month later...

It was a beautiful day yesterday, so I stopped by Coney Island on my way to work.


A reminder that the parks open on Palm Sunday.


Repair work from Hurricane Sandy is still being done on the iconic Surf Avenue Nathan's.


Although this Surf Avenue location is not expected to open until Memorial Day, the Boardwalk location will open next weekend.


Let's walk over to the B&B Carousell.


Looks similar to my visit last month.


But will look like this soon enough.


As I was stopped at a traffic light leaving the area, a train cycled on The Cyclone. I missed the train, but here's the coaster.

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  • 2 months later...



The city is tacking on another seven years to its leasing agreement with Coney Island’s amusement operator, saying the seaside area was socked so hard by Superstorm Sandy that the firm deserves the break.


“[Zamperla USA] invested a lot of money after suffering damages from Sandy, so it’s fair to give them more time to recoup their money considering they hired so many people from the neighborhood,” said the area’s city councilman, Domenic Recchia Jr., today.


A City Council subcommittee today backed the plan, which was pitched by the city’s Economic Development Corp.


The full council is expected to ratify the extension at a later date, sources said.


The move will extend the 10-year lease given to Zamperla in 2010 through 2027.


The Italian-based company has opened Luna Park, Scream Zone and many other new attractions on the 6.2 acres of city-owned beachfront land since taking over.


Through the extension, the city will continue to collect $100,000 annually from Zamperla in base rent but will see an increase in its cut of the gross receipts over the added seven years, sources said. The city already collects several hundred thousand dollars annually in gross receipts through Zamperla.


Zamperla isn’t the only amusement operator in Coney Island set to get an extension.


Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, which is run by the Vourderis family, sits partly on city-owned land and was also hit hard by Sandy. Under the EDC plan, Deno’s would also get a seven-year extension on its lease for the city-owned property it uses.

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Water Mania, a new ride at Luna Park in Coney Island, is scheduled to open Saturday, May 25, 2013. In this ride, passengers get spun around in circles while trying ti simultaneously fire their water cannons.


Water Mania starts spinning Saturday in Luna Park, giving People’s Playground visitors a chance to get soaked even if they never set foot in the surf.


“You are going to get wet,” said Alberto Zamperla, who runs Luna Park and designed the ride. The amusement is a riff on the famous teacups-style spinning rides — but it’s got a battle royal vibe fitting for the place that gave the world Shoot the Freak.


Four brave Boardwalkgoers will sit in each spinning barrel, each armed with a water cannon.


Rather than forcing riders to manually twirl their cars — a common feature on teacups rides — the spinning on Water Mania is totally automated. That leaves passengers free to focus on more important things: Like blasting other riders with their water guns.


But it’s not as simple as squeezing the trigger.


To prevent a full on monsoon, riders must crank a handle to open fire. With each crank comes a single blast — so accuracy is imperative.


However, aiming carefully is impossible with 48 spinning waterguns letting loose simultaneously.


Just in case there wasn’t enough water flying in air, the designers installed additional water cannons outside the ride for bystanders who want to join in the aquatic battle.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, this is quite interesting news...




Coney Island is getting a jolt of excitement, as NY1 has exclusively learned the legendary Thunderbolt roller coaster is making a comeback.


The new version of the beloved roller coaster will stand 125-feet tall at its highest point and thrill riders at speeds reaching 65 mph.


The city awarded the contract to Central Amusement International, which currently operates Luna Park and Scream Zone.


Sources say the $10 million amusement ride will be built near the historic B-and-B Carousel and the new Steeplechase Plaza in a vacant lot on West 15th Street.


Thrill seekers will have to wait until next summer to ride the lightning.


The original Thunderbolt was a wooden roller coaster built in 1925.


It was immortalized in Woody Allen's 1977 film "Annie Hall," where Allen's character lived just below the coaster as a child.


The original Thunderbolt closed down in 1982 and was demolished in 2000.

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Too bad it is a little skimpy on details of what exactly it is going to be like. The picture makes it kind of seem like it might be a different type of coaster but using the name as a tribute, although that could be totally off base. If it is actually a recreation of the old coaster, that will be really neat to see.



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Yeah, I'm also getting that this will be some sort of steel coaster, just using the same, kind of like "Steeplechase."


Hey, if it brings another coaster to that park, and it's at least somewhat interesting, I'm all for it!

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Good points above; hopefully it's a near-replica, or at least a Thunderbolt-inspired woodie. Seems like it would be, but as with Steeplechase, they could just be using the name for attention knowing it will still bring in crowds. At least it's widely known that people want the original Thunderbolt back and would be disappointed with anything lesser.


If it's what it sounds like (as has been rumored in the past), it's so awesome that they're actually going ahead with it. I'd rather ride the original, but that's neither here nor there at this point. Wonder who the manufacturer will be.

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Ok, now it seems like speculation really is more towards it not being a woodie at all. It's a bit early to be overthinking every word, but I would think that if they were going to make a taller replica, they'd play up the increased height. Since they didn't really compare the old and new, maybe it's because they will be completely unrelated coaster types.

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Ok that clears things up. I was wondering because the images I saw looked like the two were pretty similar at least.


To the casual observer, they look very similar. A figure 8 or "squeezed oval" shape with 2.5 layers of track. Both very close in height and both having their middle "main structure" and curves supported with steel. But to the super coaster-nerd trained eye, 2 completely different rides

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