Coney Island park’s last stand?
Coney Island’s Astroland Amusement Park and the classic Cyclone rollercoaster opened on Palm Sunday, March 16, the traditional start of the season. Could this be their last, asks Paul Ruben?
It is the 47th season for Astroland, Brooklyn, New York, the 81st season for the Cyclone. A new one-year lease with its former owners extended Astroland’s life until at least 2008, but development now threatens its operation beyond the end of this year. “We can’t call it the last year,” warns operator Carol Hill Albert, “although it might be.”
Astroland opened with 35 rides and attractions. In addition to the Cyclone, the park’s most popular rides include the Log Flume, Top Spin, Tea Cups, AstroTower and Dante’s Inferno dark ride. Opening festivities began with local celebrities gathered on the Cyclone loading platform. In the photo, Carol Hill Albert is given a City Council Citation plaque by New York City Councilman Dominic M Reccia Jnr, while Councilman Michael Nelson and Miss Cyclone, Angie Pontani, look on. A bottle of Brooklyn egg cream was then ceremoniously broken over the Cyclone’s front car, marking the beginning of the season.
Wonder Wheel turns 88
The Wonder Wheel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island, will be celebrate its 88th anniversary of the in August. Unlike some properties at Coney Island, Wonder Wheel Park has not been sold to developers and this will not be its final season.
The park includes 22 rides, plus two arcades and two restaurants. The Wonder Wheel achieved landmark status in 1989. Built in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company, it is located on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Each year, more than 200,000 people ride the Wonder Wheel, which stands 150ft high, has a diameter of 140ft and holds 144 rider at a time. It is unlike most Ferris Wheels, however, in that it has eight stationary cars and sixteen that roll along tracks within the wheel’s structure.
The Wonder Wheel has maintained a perfect safety record for its entire history. The only stoppage in its history was on July 13, 1977, during the Great New York City Blackout – when the entire northeastern United States lost electrical power. Riders on the Wonder Wheel were brought down safely as the owners hand cranked the wheel.
Dennis Vourderis, who with brother Steve co-owns Wonder Wheel Park, is promoting the ride’s 88th anniversary with slogan “88 on 8/8/08 it’s gr8!”