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Archive for the ‘Amusement ride’ Category

Fantasy Shore Amusement Park

This Spinning Tea Cup is one of four children’s rides at new Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Staten Island. Photo by NY Carousel

Staten Island’s east shore, where Ferris wheels, coasters and carousels were awhirl in the early 20th century, has its first seaside park since South Beach’s Beachland Amusements closed after 65 years. Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Midland Beach opened last weekend for “preview days,” which continue on Thursday and Friday from 11am till 6pm. The grand opening and ribbon cutting is scheduled for June 28th.

The new kiddie park opened with four rides: Tea Cups, Train, Frog Hopper and a mini-roller coaster christened the Verrazano Viper. Fantasy Shore is run by NY Carousel Entertainment, which answered the Parks Department’s RFP (Request for Proposals) to develop and operate a children’s amusement park for a 12-year term. The park is on Father Capodanno Blvd at Seaview Avenue, adjacent to Midland Beach Fishing Pier.

Queens Motor Speedway

Queens Motor Speedway Ride at Fantasy Forest Amusement Park.
Flushing Meadows, Queens. Photo by NY Carousel

The company also operates two historic Queens carousels in City parks in Flushing Meadows and Forest Park. Last year, NY Carousel added a mini-amusement park called Fantasy Forest at Flushing Meadows, including Queens’ only roller coaster, a family ride called the Corona Cobra similar to the one in Midland Beach. On Memorial Day weekend, the Queens park debuted a new ride called the Queens Motor Speedway inspired by the Kiddie Whip ride manufactured by the Mangels Company in Coney Island.

“These parks are designed to cater to local families and we add rides and attractions over time that we feel best suit our park’s location,” Adam Sandy of NY Carousel told ATZ. “I can say that I think Fantasy Shore will look great opening day, improve throughout the season, and grow in the years to come.”

Midland Beach, just south of South Beach, once had hotels, beer gardens, bathing pavilions, theaters, carousels, Ferris wheels and other amusements. Vintage postcards in the New York Public Library show a variety of entertainments, including trapeze performances, boxing exhibitions and a Whip ride.

The Whip at Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: Everybody Rides the The Whip at Midland Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

Related posts on ATZ…

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

March 5, 2014: RFP for Operator of Battery Park’s SeaGlass Carousel

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

January 20, 2014: Amusement Park Operators Eye Return to Staten Island Beachfront

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Thunderbolt Luna Park

Grand Opening of Thunderbolt Roller Coaster, Luna Park Coney Island, June 14, 2014. Photo via Luna Park NYC

Summer officially begins on Saturday, June 21st, with the solstice and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. This past Saturday offered a taste of summer: the long-awaited debut of Luna Park’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, Wonder Wheel Park’s Pet Costume Contest on the Boardwalk, and the Brooklyn Cyclones season opener followed by the first fireworks of the season. The Cyclones stadium is spectacularly situated with the landmark Parachute Jump on one side and the new Thunderbolt on the other.

Brooklyn Ccyclones

Brooklyn Cyclones Season Opener at MCU Park, Coney Island. June 14, 2014. Photo via Brooklyn Cyclones Facebook

ATZ wrote about the Thunderbolt when it broke ground (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” March 10, 2014) and as it took shape (“New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island,” May 19, 2014). Yet it’s still an astonishment to come upon its steel loops and dips from Surf Avenue. The coaster has the allure of an abstract sculpture and occupies part of a long vacant block where the Drop the Dip, Thunderbolt, and Wild Mouse coasters once thrilled and the Magic Carpet Fun House and Donkey Ball Game amused the millions.

On Friday, a New York Times reporter’s 9-year-old daughter starred in the best-ever vid of a coaster’s test run. Chai Latte, a 3-year-old chihuahua from Queens won 1st prize in Saturday’s Pet Costume Contest at Deno’s. And the Cyclones opened their season with an 8-2 victory over the Staten Island Yankees in front of an above-capacity crowd of 8,175.

Pet Costume Contest

Chai Latte, 1st Prize Winner of Pet Costume Contest at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. June 14, 2014. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Facebook

Related posts on ATZ…

May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays, Six Saturdays, and More

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

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

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

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Astroland Rocket

Astroland Rocket Back Home in Coney Island — Next to the Wonder Wheel in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park! June 4, 2014. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

Good morning and happy news! While you were sleeping the Astroland Rocket was returned to its rightful place in Coney Island after a five-year exile. The space-age attraction’s future couldn’t be brighter. Its new home is beside the magnificent Wonder Wheel in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. The long-retired Rocket ride will be made into a multimedia exhibit featuring the history of flight-themed attractions in Coney Island. The space simulator was the first attraction to arrive at Astroland in 1962. TIME hailed it as the “Cape Canaveral Satellite Jet” while Billboard called it “The Spaceship Auditorium.”

“Outer space simulators have played a prominent role in Coney’s amusement history,” said Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, who will design the exhibit. “It began when Thompson and Dundy brought ‘A Trip to the Moon’ to Steeplechase Park in 1902 and culminated in 1962, at the height of the space race, with Astroland’s Moon Rocket.”

Star Flyrer Astroland

Star Flyer copyright Astroland Archives / Coney Island History Project

The History Project’s proposal was approved by the City’s Economic Development Corporation, which issued an RFP in November and transferred ownership to the nonprofit organization a few days ago. After Astroland lost its lease in 2009, the Rocket was removed from atop Gregory & Paul’s roof, where it perched for decades and had become part of the store’s vernacular signage. The space ship was donated to the City of New York by Astroland Park owners Carol and Jerry Albert. “The Rocket will become a permanent and iconic part of the 27 acre redeveloped amusement district in Coney Island,” said the press release from the Coney Island Development Corporation on January 28, 2009, the day the Rocket left Coney Island.

This summer, Wonder Wheel Park’s Steve and Stacy Vourderis hope to make the Rocket the focal point of the park’s annual History Day celebration on August 9th. But it may take awhile before the 26-seat Astro theater is in shipshape to welcome a new generation of space adventurers. The 71-foot-long, 12,000-pound Rocket was damaged during Superstorm Sandy while in storage at the City’s Staten Island Homeport facility. The restoration of the Rocket is in the very capable hands of Steve Vourderis, who meticulously restored the Wonder Wheel for the first time when his family bought it 30 years ago and has kept the 1920 landmark and the park’s other rides in perfect condition ever since.

Charles Denson, Executive Director of the Coney Island History Project, inside the Astroland Rocket awaiting a new generation of space adventurers! Photo © Astroland Archives/Coney Island History Project

The Rocket joins another survivor of Astroland in Wonder Wheel Park. The Bumper car ride with its distinctive rainbow marquee was refurbished and brought back to Coney Island in 2012. Signage from the Musik Express, Water Flume and other rides are in the collection of the Coney Island History Project. In the Washington D.C. area, one of the 8-foot by 7-and-a-half-foot lighted stars from the park’s gate, which was selected by curator Margaret Weitekamp for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s collection, is slated to go on display next year in the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center .

Related posts on ATZ…

July 17, 2013: Astroland Rides Find Homes in Brooklyn, Costa Rica and Australia

March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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Last evening at 6:55pm, Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster went for its first test run, evoking cheers from fans gathered on the Boardwalk. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy had been standing by for the historic moment and captured “The Thunderbolt’s Maiden Voyage” in this short video.

As previously noted (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” ATZ, March 10, 2014), Coney Island has been home to dozens of roller coasters since the Switchback Railway debuted in 1884 but it’s been a long 87 years since one was custom built for Coney — the Cyclone in 1927. Luna Park’s newest ride is named in honor of the 1925 Thunderbolt and is expected to open as soon as the test runs and permitting process are complete.

UPDATE June 2, 2014

To anyone who watched this video of the Thunderbolt’s first test run and jumped to the conclusion it would open over the weekend, hang in there! There’ll be multiple test runs, some of which were conducted today, before the new coaster opens. On Saturday, Luna Park employees variously said the coaster would open next Saturday or in two weeks, but there’s been no officially announced date.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

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Thunderbolt Roller Coaster

Parachute Jump framed by the Thunderbolt’s Vertical Loop, Luna Park, Coney Island. May 17, 2014. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Weekend visitors to Coney Island were wowed by the sight of Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster under construction on West 15th Street. Set to open on Memorial Day, which is just one week away, the new $10 million dollar ride’s track rolls, loops, turns and dives from the Boardwalk to Surf Avenue and back again. Photographer Jim McDonnell, who has been documenting the work in progress since Day 1, has captured the sculptural elegance of the coaster. The Thunderbolt has already made its mark on Coney Island’s skyline. Seen from a certain vantage point, the landmark Parachute Jump–Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower– is framed by the Loop in a shot that is destined to become a favorite of People’s Playground photographers and a Coney classic.

Thunderbolt Loop Completed

Loop on Luna Park’s new Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Completed, May 15, 2014. Photo © Jim McDonnell

On Thursday, the Thunderbolt’s 100-foot Loop was completed. It was a stunning moment because it’s the first coaster with a vertical loop in Coney Island since the 1901-1910 Loop the Loop, which stood on the corner of West 10th Street where the Cyclone is today. Edwin Prescott’s ride was one of the first to charge admission just to watch. A sign warned “Beware of Pickpockets!” and another said “STRAP YOURSELVES.” The ride’s motto, printed on its tickets, was “Heels up, Heads down!” But the Loop the Loop’s low capacity of four passengers per 10 cent ride was not enough to turn a profit. The Thunderbolt will cost $10 or 10 Luna Park credits to ride. If you’re not brave enough to give it a go, it will of course be free to watch.

Loop the Loop

Edwin Prescott’s Loop the Loop, Coney Island, 1901-1901. Library of Congress

As previously noted (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” ATZ, March 10, 2014), Coney Island has been home to dozens of roller coasters since the Switchback Railway debuted in 1884 but it’s been a long 87 years since one was custom built for Coney — the Cyclone in 1927. The new ride is named in honor of the 1925 Thunderbolt, which occupied an adjacent lot on the same block until it was controversially and illegally demolished in 2000 on the orders of Mayor Giuliani.

The Thunderbolt is the third Zamperla coaster in Luna Park to be named after Coney Island attractions of the past. In 2010, their Wild Mouse-style spinning coaster was rechristened “The Tickler” in honor of an innovative 1906 thrill ride in the original Luna Park, after which the park is named. The next year, a Pony Express-themed Motocoaster in Scream Zone was dubbed the Steeplechase Coaster, after Steeplechase Park’s signature horse race ride.

Loop the Loop Ticket

Loop the Loop Ticket, Coney Island, early 1900s. Via eBay seller childhoodthings

UPDATE May 20, 2014

UPDATE May 30, 2014

Watch this video from last evening, when the Thunderbolt went for its 1st first test run.

UPDATE June 15, 2014

The Thunderbolt had its grand opening on Saturday! Here’s the official POV video released by Luna Park

Related posts on ATZ…

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

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Reithoffer Shows

Art for Reithoffer Shows Indy 500 ‘Flitzer’ Coaster at Coney Island, May 26, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Reithoffer Shows, one of America’s oldest carnivals, is heading to Brooklyn after 11 days at the Staten Island Mall with more than 25 rides. The carnival’s Blue Unit is partnering with Aviator Sports at Floyd Bennett Field for the fifth year of the Kings County Fair, which runs from May 15 through 26. The family-run carnival billed as “The Aristocrat of Show Business” began in 1896 with a steam-driven carousel and is now operated by the 4th and 5th generations.

Meanwhile, over the weekend in Coney Island, the “Rumor Mill” was saying that Reithoffer is bringing rides to Thor Equities long-vacant lots on Stillwell from May 15-26 with the option of staying longer if business was good. The source of this “news” was said to be “very reliable.” The rumor began back in March (“Will Rides Return to Thor Equities Vacant Lots in Coney Island?” ATZ), though no specific carnival was mentioned at the time.

We’re still skeptical because no one we talked with from Reithoffer’s management knows anything about rides going to Coney Island and it’s the same date as the Kings County Fair. Blue Unit Manager Gary Alberry did allow that since Reithoffer has more than 115 rides, it’s possible some are being sent to Coney, though he’s not aware of it. The Blue Unit also has rides at the Northeast Fair in Pennsylvania and a Virginia K-Mart, while the Orange Unit is playing spots in New Jersey and Maryland, according to Reithoffer’s route list. With Memorial Day Weekend less than two weeks away, if rides are indeed coming to Coney they should be arriving any day.

On Memorial Day Weekend 2008, Thor CEO Joe Sitt proclaimed “The Summer of Hope” and filled his vacant lots on Stillwell with carnival rides from Reithoffer Shows for a limited two-week run and Geren Rides till Labor Day. Contrary to the PR campaign, the lots were vacant again by July, when Geren left for his fairs. Will this be Thor’s Summer of Hope, Part 2?

funhouse showfront

Art for Crusty Crab funhouse front, Reithoffer Shows in Coney Island. May 26, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita

UPDATE May 20, 2014

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades

June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Andreas Feininger Gyro

Andreas Feininger, The Gyro, Coney Island, 1949. Skinner Auctions. May 16, 2014.

In 1949, LIFE photographer Andreas Feininger took a series of now classic time lapses of Coney Island rides including the Ferris Wheel, Hurricane and Gyro Globe. The pictorial was titled “Coney Island: Its Stomach-Curdling Rides Make Beautiful Light Patterns At Night.” This gelatin silver print of the Coney’s Gyro from the private collection of György Kepes is up for auction at Skinner’s May 16th sale (Presale estimate $3,000-$5,000).

In the magazine, the Gyro was described as “a metal monster which simultaneously spins and tilts its victims, looks weird enough by day, becomes a fantastic skein of light threads at night. Billed as the only one of its kind in the world, it is known as a ‘laughing ride.'”

It turns out the “Gyroscope” was the creation of Charles Hermann, who is best known as the inventor of Coney Island’s famous Wonder Wheel, for which he assigned the rights to the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company in 1920. According to a 1947 article in the Billboard, park operator Jimmy Kyrimes leased a lot on the Bowery at 12th Street to Hermann for his new thriller, which was brought to Coney after debuting in Long Beach, California. Members of the Garms family, the original owners and operators of the Wonder Wheel, were partners in Hermann’s Gyro Amusement Corporation. Two decades later, the one-of-a-kind ride disappeared from Coney Island.

Another Feininger photograph in the sale is titled ‘Merry-Go-Round,’ though it’s a Rocket Ship ride. The marquee of the RKO Tilyou Theater on Surf Avenue can be seen in the background (Presale estimate $1,000-$1,500).

Andreas Feininger, Merry-go-round

Andreas Feininger, Merry-Go-Round, Coney Island, 1949. Skinner Auctions. May 16, 2014.

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 18, 2014: British Pathé Releases Historic Newsreels of Coney Island

April 3, 2014: Rare & Vintage: 100-Year-Old Coney Island Ride Tickets

November 1, 2013: After 80 Years in Popcorn Biz, Family’s Heirloom Wagons Up for Sale

January 13, 2012: Rare & Vintage: Reginald Marsh Photos of Coney Island

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