When the Cyclone roller coaster opens on March 24th, the borough president breaks a bottle of egg cream on the front car and the first 100 people ride for free. It’s a good ol’ Coney Island tradition. The next hundred people on line and everyone who follows will buy their tickets at brand-new ticket booths located beneath the ride. Under construction since Sunday, the Surf Avenue booths are located in a space under the Cyclone that was used for storage since Luna Park began running the landmark ride in 2011. The price of a ride is also going up a dollar this season and will cost $9.00. Luna Park leases the coaster from the City’s Parks Department, which receives a percentage of ticket sales.
The little windows that you see in the interior wall above that let you peek at the coaster rumbling by were constructed when the Coney Island History Project, which has since moved to the Wonder Wheel, turned the former souvenir stand into an exhibit center. The photo below is a last look at the old Cyclone ticket booth on the corner: “Ride the American Legend!” When Astroland ran the Cyclone it said “How Sweet It Is!” in homage to Jackie Gleason, who grew up in Brooklyn and played New York bus driver Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners. (Update, March 19th: The old ticketbooth was demolished today.)
If you look at vintage photos and postcards of the Cyclone, the signage reads “Faster Than Ever!” and “Bus Depot.” The ticket booths were inside, opening up the front of the ride to public view. Since the Cyclone is an official New York City landmark, changes to the facade must have historic precedent and be approved by the Landmarks Commission. It will be interesting to see what’s in the future for this famous corner of Coney Island.
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March 11, 2013: Luna Park’s Pinwheels Go Up on Coney Island Boardwalk
June 26, 2009: Happy Birthday to Coney Island’s Cyclone Roller Coaster!