Archive for the ‘Amusement ride’ Category

Coney Island Hysterical Society

Richard Eagan, Gene Manzione and Philomena Marano at the Spookhouse in Coney Island, 1984. Photo Courtesy of Coney Island Hysterical Society.

Wouldn’t it be cool to take over a derelict amusement ride and refurbish it as an art project? “Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” a new exhibit at City Lore, celebrates a time in the mid-1980’s when a group of young artists were able to do just that.

In 1981, Brooklyn artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano co-founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society because they were “Hysterical” at the rate that the amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. One of their projects was the transformation of the disused Dragon’s Cave ride on the Bowery into the Spookhouse, billed as “a ride through gallery in the dark – a unique blend of art and amusement.” Admission was $1.00-$1.50, which wasn’t bad considering a ride on the Cyclone cost two bucks back then.

Boardwalk Renaiisance

The art of Spookhouse at Boardwalk Renaissance, an exhibit at City Lore thru March 13, 2016. Photo © Tricia Vita

Artwork by Eagan and Marano, and scenic designs by Bill Stabile, as well as paintings by Marc Kehoe and photos by Hazel Hankin documenting the Spookhouse’s 1984-1986 run are on view at City Lore. According to a vintage poster, the ride featured works by 15 artists plus students of I.S. 291, and “Reconstruction and Revitalization” by a crew of eight. Ten artists were invited to paint each of the original 1940’s Messmore & Damon cars. Among them was Nancy Prusinowski, who reminisced with ATZ about shunning a spooky theme in lieu of a pastoral scene similar to that on a carousel chariot. The eye-catcher was a Cupid holding a Nathan’s hot dog, a hat tip to Nathan’s, which owned the building and was across the way.

It’s remarkable that folks without amusement biz chops were able to preserve and operate an old Coney dark ride, even for a few years. It could not be done today. After Astroland closed in 2008, some friends were actually talking about how we could bring back Dante’s Inferno. Of course it was not feasible.

Marc Kehoe Coney Island Hysterical Society

Marc Kehoe painting ‘It’s Spooky’ mural on exterior wall of the Spookhouse, 1985. Photo courtesy of Coney Island Hysterical Society

“Those were very different times,” says Philomena Marano in an e-mail. “All the right ingredients magically fell into place: Coney Island was abandoned, Sporty Kaufman wanted out of his Dragon’s Cave Ride, we were rowdy, creative and had a vision and Nathan’s Ken Handwerker was keen on launching a revitalization. I must say that all of the time we were working on Spookhouse I was strangely aware that something like this could never happen again. In the canons of weird and bizarre ‘Projects & goals,’ it’s surely at the top.”

In a fantastic example of synchronicity, the Spookhouse also featured set pieces designed by Bill Stabile for Harvey Fierstein’s Off-Broadway play Spookhouse, which were nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design in 1984. Fierstein is a childhood friend of Marano, and when the play closed the pieces were donated to Coney’s Spookhouse. When the ride closed due to rising insurance costs, the Skull and the Devil were acquired by Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and became part of Spook-A-Rama’s stable of props from defunct dark rides.

Spookhouse Bill Stabile

Scenic Designs by Bill Stabile for Harvey Fierstein’s Spookhouse on exhibit at City Lore.

Thirty years later, all that remains of the Spookhouse are two signs and two cars in private collections, and Stabile’s car, which can be seen in the exhibition, along with a replica of his Giant Skull in park paint, the original of which is on display at the Coney Island History Project as “Skully.”

“We’re happy knowing that a few items survived,” says Marano. “And although they are owned by others we maintain a strong attachment to them. Like they are still ours.”

“Boardwalk Renaissance” also spotlights Coney’s house under the Thunderbolt roller coaster, the World in Wax Musee, shooting galleries, and the early days of Coney Island USA including the first Mermaid Parade.

“Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” City Lore Gallery, 56 East 1st Street, NYC 10003. Exhibit runs through March 13, 2016. Gallery open Wed – Fri, 2pm – 6pm and Sat – Sun, 12pm – 6pm. Free admission.

Boardwalk Renaissance

Boardwalk Renaissance, an exhibit at City Lore. November 7, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ...

March 13, 2013: Coney Island 2013: New Ghouls Mingle with Old in Rebuilt Spook-A-Rama

November 21, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: Flooded Spook-A-Rama to Get New Stunts

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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Coney Island Parachute Jump French Tricolor

Coney Island Parachute Jump –Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower– Lit at Sunset in French Tricolor. November 15, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Sunday we happened to be on the Boardwalk in Coney Island at the very moment the lights on the Parachute Jump were switched on. Known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, the Jump is being lit in France’s tricolor to show solidarity after the Paris attacks.

Although Coney’s rides are now closed for the season, the Parachute Jump’s 8000 LEDs are lit year round with lighting schemes varying by the day. occasion and season. One of our favorite shots of the Jump is through the loop of Luna Park’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, which is on West 15th Street off the Boardwalk.

Coney Island Parachute Jump and Thunderbolt at Sunset. November 15, 2015 .  Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island Parachute Jump and Thunderbolt at Sunset. November 15, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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December 22, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Tribute in Light to Slain NYPD Officers

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May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

November 20, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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Wonder Wheel and Spook-A-Rama Skeleton

Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Spook-A-Rama Skeleton. September 7, 2015.

Happy Halloween! Thanks to the extended season and the spooky holiday falling on a Saturday, which hasn’t happened in several years, Spook-A-Rama is open on Halloween Weekend for the first time ever. Coney Island’s legendary 60-year-old dark ride adjacent to Deno’s Wonder Wheel opens at 12 noon.

November 1st is the last day of the season for Coney Island’s two amusement parks – Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park – which are scheduled to reopen on Coney’s traditional opening day, Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016. This weekend is your last chance to go for a first date or get engaged on the Wonder Wheel and brave the Cyclone roller coaster in 2015.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 23, 2013: Coney’s Parachute Jump & Wonder Wheel Lit for Christmas

November 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

March 29, 2013: Spook-A-Rama Revival: Vintage Cyclops Meets New Dragon

March 13, 2013: Coney Island 2013: New Ghouls Mingle with Old in Rebuilt Spook-A-Rama

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On Saturday, Zamperla’s much-anticipated new Enterprise-style ride, called the Endeavor, is expected to make its public debut in Coney Island, sources tell ATZ. Its inaugural spin is set to coincide with the visit of 400 amusement industry professionals attending Amusement Today‘s 18th Annual Golden Ticket Awards hosted this year by Zamperla at Luna Park and Central Park’s Victorian Gardens.

The prototype ride is already set up on West 15th Street and being inspected by the City’s ride inspector in advance of the weekend. On Wednesday, ATZ friend and beach-goer Eliot Wofse caught the Endeavor going for a test spin in the above video. If the ride looks familiar, the Enterprise was a fave at Coney Island’s Astroland from the 1970s until the early 2000’s when it was sold to New Jersey’s Casino Pier.

The Endeavor has been on Luna Park Coney Island’s map –”Coming Soon! Get ready for an experience that is out of this world” — since the park opened this spring. Sources tell ATZ the prototype has already been sold to a park in warmer climes, where it will go after an initial few weeks of operation in Coney Island. Another Endeavor will be sent to Luna Park in time for its 2016 season, the source said. This year, Luna Park is celebrating its fifth anniversary season with five new rides. The park, which has 29 rides, is also a showroom for Zamperla’s rides, 26 of which were manufactured by the Vicenza, Italy, ride manufacturer.

Zamperla Endeavor

The Endeavor, Zamperla’s new Enterprise-style ride, awaiting its debut at Luna Park. September 7, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Golden Ticket Awards is a two-day private event known as the Oscars of the amusement industry. The public can watch the Golden Ticket Awards Ceremony, which is being held at Gargiulo’s Restaurant, via an online simulcast beginning at 7:30pm on September 12 at this YouTube link. The ceremony will include Broadway-style entertainment produced by RWS & Associates and the presentation of awards to winners in 40 categories such as “Best Park,” “Most Beautiful Park,” and “#1 Steel Coaster.” At 10:30pm, the event’s big finale will be a fireworks show viewable from the Coney Island Boardwalk, according to Amusement Today. The City has issued a permit for a fireworks display for 9:30pm. The event is weather permitting, of course.

“The unique location of Coney Island is sure to add its own flavor to the event,” Tim Baldwin, Amusement Today‘s Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator, told ATZ. “It will be our largest attendance yet of around 400 industry professionals from around the globe. Attendees are coming from numerous countries that include Sweden, The Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Ireland and more.”

In the meantime, enjoy this spin back in time on Astroland’s Enterprise.

Related posts on ATZ…

August 19, 2015: Battery Park’s SeaGlass Carousel Goes for Its First Spin

May 28, 2015: Coney Island Openings & Closings: Power Surge, Arcade, Rainbow Shops, Vintage Shooting Gallery

April 10, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Power Surge and Enterprise-Style Ride Set for Comeback

March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

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Ten years in the making, the much-anticipated SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park will open to the public on Thursday, August 20th, from 1pm till midnight. Today, at a press preview, ATZ captured the unique ride’s inaugural spin in the above video. For its second go-round, we hopped aboard one of the 30 bioluminescent fish and shot an on-ride video through its porthole. Glowing Angelfish, Lionfish, and Butterflyfish changed colors as they swam by in a 360-degree aquatic dance. It is a very calming, otherworldly experience and totally unlike any other carousel or amusement ride.

George Tsypin

George Tsypin set to ride one of the fish that he designed for the SeaGlass Carousel. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the carousel’s riders was George Tsypin, the internationally acclaimed opera designer who created the opening ceremony for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. His latest creation is what he calls “the dancing fish.”

“I always try to do something I’ve never done before,” he remarked at the press conference. “SeaGlass Carousel allows visitors to experience a ‘mini-opera’ in which they are spectators, actors and participants.” He describes it as a reinvention of the carousel for the 21st century with the choreography of movement being the most important thing. “You can program the movement in many different ways. It’s a living organism that we tried to create.”

The fiberglass fish are a bit like a capsule, Tsypin adds, noting that you can’t ride a shark as you would a horse. “Children can feel like they’re in a secret world in their own little capsule.”

SeaGlass Carousel

Girl riding SeaGlass Carousel at press preview. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Celebrating the history of the Battery as the first home of the New York Aquarium, which was located in Castle Clinton from 1896 until 1941, the carousel was designed to simulate a dive to the bottom of the sea. “Most New York City children will not scuba dive or snorkel,” said the Battery Conservancy’s Warrie Price. “This is a simulation of them being fish.”

The SeaGlass Carousel’s iridescent fish are set on four moving turntables within a nautilus shell structure. The 46-foot grand turntable gently rotates 360 degrees. Within it are three on-board turntables, which slowly rotate 120 degrees in each direction on their own axes, adding an oscillating motion. Eighteen of the fish move up and down. “These various systems generate up to 25 axes of motion…swimming indeed,” according to the Conservancy. Since all mechanisms are located below the floor, there is no centerpole, as is customary with carousels.

SeaGlass Carousel

SeaGlass Carousel features iridescent fish set on four moving turntables within a nautilus shell structure. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last year, the Battery Conservancy issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for the operation and maintenance of the SeaGlass Carousel along with food and merchandise carts in Battery Park. Ride Entertainment Group’s New York division, NY Carousel, was selected to operate the ride, which after opening day will spin daily from 10am to 10pm. The cost is $5 per ride. The group also operates Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel and the Forest Park Carousel in Queens, as well as Fantasy Shore at Midland Beach in Staten Island and carousels in Boston and Baltimore.

SeaGlass Carousel

Moms and kids aboard the SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Created by the Battery Conservancy together with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, SeaGlass Carousel was conceived and designed by WXY Architecture + Urban Design and their engineering teams, George Tsypin Opera Factory and Show Canada. The $16 million dollar project was funded with $8 million in public funds and $8 million in private funds. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Woodland Gardens encircle SeaGlass Carousel.

Tiffany & Co. Foundation Woodland Gardens

The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Woodland Gardens encircle Battery Park’s SeaGlass Carousel. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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April 13, 2015: Video of the Day: Century-Old Forest Park Carousel Awhirl After Off-Season Overhaul

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December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

February 26, 2010: Made in Brooklyn: The World’s Only Jet-Powered Merry-Go-Round

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enterprise style ride

Screenshot of New Enterprise-style ride set to debut at Luna Park Coney Island via TV Paese Mio

A new Enterprise-style ride called the Endeavor has been on Luna Park Coney Island’s map–“Coming Soon! Get ready for an experience that is out of this world” — and ATZ’s radar since the park opened this spring. But the newly built ride has yet to arrive in Coney and a photo of what it looks like has not been seen till now.

Thanks to a tipster for alerting us to a video tour of Italian ride factories including Zamperla’s Soriani factory, in which the ride is seen in action for about a minute from 2:59 in the video below. ATZ’s source says the new ride is en route to Coney Island, where it is expected to debut within the next six weeks.

What will ride aficionados have to say about the ride experience compared to the classic Enterpise and how long will the operator keep the ride in a vertical spin? The Enterprise, which first came out in 1972, was named after the Star Trek Starship. Manufactured by Huss, the spinning thrill ride was a fave at Coney Island’s Astroland from the 1970s until the early 2000’s when it was sold to New Jersey’s Casino Pier. Lake Compounce, Dorney Park and Strates Shows are among the owners of the 20 or so Enterprises operating in the U.S. today.

At New Jersey’s Meadowlands Fair, ATZ snapped photos of Strates Shows’ Enterprise. It is mesmerizing to watch and an intense thrill to ride. Jersey amusement ride blogger The DoD3, who has ridden both the Strates’ and Astroland Enterprises, had this to say in his review of the ride:

Once secured, the wheel begins to spin until it hits warp speed. Once riders are nice an plastered to the seat, the arm holding the wheel begins to rise up to 87 degrees (basically vertical.) Most Enterprise rides will keep the wheel vertical for less than a minute, however I’ve seen some go for longer. Strates’ Enterprise goes for at least a minute and a half. Astroland’s old Enterprise went for three plus minutes!

Related posts on ATZ…

June 16, 2015: Coney Island Businesses Racing to Open by Mermaid Parade Day Now Aiming for July

May 28, 2015: Coney Island Openings & Closings: Power Surge, Arcade, Rainbow Shops, Vintage Shooting Gallery

May 21, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays Including July 4

April 10, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Power Surge and Enterprise-Style Ride Set for Comeback

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Power Surge

Power Surge returns to Coney Island opened for business on Memorial Day Weekend. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Zamperla’s Power Surge, one of the ride manufacturer’s signature rides, opened at Coney Island’s Luna Park over Memorial Day Weekend. The big surprise is that we’re told it’s the very same ride that debuted in Astroland in 2001! As ATZ previously reported, when the Power Surge first came to Coney’s Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001, its photo was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. The ride remained in Astroland until 2006 when it was sold to Australia. Zamperla bought it back and refurbished it.

Located in Luna Park’s Scream Zone against the back wall of the Boardwalk Nathan’s, the scream machine was awhirl for most of the weekend. The Power Surge is not the only Astroland ride to come home to Coney Island. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park brought back and refurbished Astroland’s Scrambler and Barbieri Bumper Cars, and together with the Coney Island History Project, the historic 1962 Astroland Rocket.


Over Memorial Day Weekend, Arcade Replaces Rainbow Shop in Thor Equities Building. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Friday we were delighted to find out that Coney Island has one less chain store and one more arcade. Rainbow Shops, a retail chain featuring discount clothing and shoes, will NOT be returning for a third season to Thor Equities retail building in Coney. Gordon Lee of Eldorado Arcade has moved arcade machines into the 2,500 square foot space, which still has the word Rainbow over its door.

It’s surprising news because until last July, Thor’s retail building flaunted two ARCADE signs but no arcades, despite the fact that 15% of amusement frontage was required by zoning regulations to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy from the City. For a long time, it was one of our pet peeves. ATZ wrote about this sham here and again here. Now the two mini-arcades, the minimum required by Bloomberg’s rezoning of Coney Island for this building, have an actual arcade to keep them company.

mini arcade

One of two mini arcades installed in July 2014 at Thor Equities retail building at Surf and Stillwell. May 27, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

We’re sad to report that Coney Island USA’s 1940s Shooting Gallery at 1214 Surf Avenue has been closed. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the nonprofit arts organization is offering the 3,500 square foot Shooting Gallery Arts Annex building for lease at $50 square foot or approximately $175,000 per year. “When a lease is signed we will return it to Deno’s,” Coney Island USA’s Dick Zigun told ATZ. “Until then it might reopen if we can afford machine gun maintenance.”

Made in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the vintage shooting gallery is the only publicly operating one of its kind that we’re aware of. The gallery restored by Coney Island USA in 2013 is on loan from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, where it had operated for decades next to Spook-A-Rama and was uncovered during post-Sandy renovations.

Mangels Shooting Gallery

1940s Mangels Shooting Gallery, Coney Island USA. August 3, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers who sell the targets individually. It brought an authentic, old-timey ambiance to Surf Avenue that will be missed.

CIUSA bought Denny’s ice cream shop and building next door to their headquarters in 2012 for $1.3 million. Unfortunately, Denny’s was one of the first casualties of Superstorm Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area. The building had to be gutted and at first there was talk of replacing the ruined ice cream machines with a paintball game, mini-golf or a roller rink. What will it house next?

When Coney Island USA bought the building, Dick Zigun told ATZ: “Some day we can transfer air rights from the landmark Childs Building, match the two-story front of Childs then do a setback with an additional five to seven story tower on top of the base,” Zigun noted. The renderings that he showed at a Coney Island presentation at the AIA included a whimsical homage to the Elephant Hotel.

Shooting Gallery

Shooting Gallery building at 1214 Surf Avenue. May 26, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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April 7, 2015: Coney Island Area’s 1st Hotel in Decades to Open This Summer

March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

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