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Archive for the ‘Amusement ride’ Category

Forest Park Carousel

First horse back on the Forest Park Carousel after off-season overhaul. Photo via NY Carousel

The century-old landmark carousel in Forest Park, Queens, is awhirl again after an off-season overhaul intended to keep it running for the next hundred years, said David Galst of NY Carousel, which operates the ride for the City’s Parks Department. “We’re taking anything off the ride that rotates,” explains Galst in the video below documenting the carousel’s dismantling and re-assembly. The work started in November and was overseen by restorer Todd Goings of Ohio’s Carousels and Carvings. What makes this carousel unique in today’s world, says Goings, are the outer row of horses carved by Daniel Muller. “They became too valuable and everybody took the carousels down in spite of the horses to collect them. This one survived.”

In 2013, the Forest Park Carousel was designated an official New York City Landmark, the only carousel in the City to have this honor.

Carver Daniel Muller studied sculpting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He found part-time work in the carousel workshops of Charles Looff in Brooklyn and William H. Dentzel in Philadelphia. Dentzel constructed the frame of this carousel in 1890 and the majority of the carved figures are believed to date from 1903 or 1910. It was originally in Dracut, Massachusetts, and opened at Forest Park in 1973 to replace another Dentzel carousel destroyed in a fire. The carousel has 36 jumpers, 13 standing horses and three menagerie animals – a lion, a deer and a tiger.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 25, 2014: Amusement Rides Return to Staten Island’s Beachfront

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

May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

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

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Power Surge Astroland

Zamperla’s Power Surge which debuted in 1999, opened in Astroland in 2001. Photo © The Astroland Archive.

It’s going to be a retro season on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Though not yet officially announced, two rides set to debut in Luna Park’s Scream Zone were once among the must-rides in Astroland Park. Central Amusement International, the park division of ride manufacturer Zamperla, is bringing in a new Power Surge as well as what is believed to be a remake of the classic Enterprise called the Endeavor. The Power Surge will be on West 12th Street adjacent to the Steeplechase coaster while the Endeavor will replace the Boardwalk Flight Sky Coaster.

When Zamp’s Power Surge came to Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001, a press release said it was drawing people into the park like a magnet and put on a great show. A photo of the ride was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. “After decades of decay, the weirdly wonderful Coney Island is poised for a comeback” was the intro to the cover story “Fantasy Island.” The Power Surge made its debut in 1999 and remains among the ride manufacturer’s most popular rides.

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 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.

Enterprise at State Fair Meadowlands

Strates Shows’ Enterprise at State Fair Meadowlands 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

It’s fun to go back and read what ride aficionados had to say about the full-tilt action of Astroland’s Power Surge and Enterprise.

“This is yet another example of a ride that really benefits from the demonic ride ops of Coney Island,” wrote Steve NY of the Power Surge in Theme Park Critic in 2008. “Most times I come off a Power Surge completely disappointed because the ride just seems so tame while on it; whereas on the ground it looks incredibly intense. However, as I said earlier, Coney Island dished out a ride cycle that lasted over 3 minutes consistently, easily double that experienced on other Power Surges.”

Here’s a video of a Zamperla Power Surge at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Show in 2013:

Last June 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…

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

January 31, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Wahlburgers Signage Goes Up at Thor’s Retail Building

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

January 20, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park Adds Scrambler, ‘Twist & Shout’ Drop Tower

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Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

The FDNY Color Guard will present the colors and sing the National Anthem at Coney Island’s Opening Day Ceremony. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

There’s a chance of snow showers on Saturday, but it’s expected to be sunny with temps in the 40s on Palm Sunday, when Coney Island’s rides go for their first spin of the season. In celebration of the landmark Wonder Wheel’s 95th year, the first 95 people will get a free ride on Opening Day. The soon-to-be 88-year-old Cyclone roller coaster will as usual offer free rides to the first 100 on line. Erik Knapp aka Mr. Cyclone is once again expected to arrive the night before to be the first on line.

Michael Sarrel, co-owner of Ruby's Bar

Michael Sarrel, co-owner of Ruby’s Bar. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Saturday, the Boardwalk businesses Ruby’s Bar and Lola Star Boutique will welcome customers for the first time since last fall, joining Tom’s Restaurant and Brooklyn Beach Shop, which are already open daily.

Saturday night is Coney Island USA’s spring gala, which is being held at the art organization’s Surf Avenue headquarters on the eve of Coney’s Opening Day. Featuring performances by burlesque and sideshow stars including Mat Fraser of “American Horror Story,” live music, and go go dancers in the Freak Bar, the event runs from 8pm till midnight.

Coney Island USA Freak Bar

Freak Bar at Coney Island USA. Photo © Norman Blake

The annual fundraiser supports Coney Island USA’s Mermaid Parade, Coney Island Circus Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach, Coney Island Museum and Coney Island Film Festival. General admission of $100 includes unlimited beer, wine, and food. VIP admission of $150 also includes one hour earlier admission at 7pm, Meet and Greet with some of the performers in the V.I.P. Lounge, and gift bags. Tickets may be purchased online until 10pm on Friday. Day of tickets available from 6pm and during the gala at Coney Island USA.

On Palm Sunday, the festivities begin at 10:30am on the Boardwalk with the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park by Pastor Debbie Santiago of Coney Island’s Salt and Sea Mission, speeches by elected officials, and the FDNY color guard presenting the Colors and singing the National Anthem. After a ribbon cutting ceremony at Deno’s gate, the gathering moves to the Cyclone roller coaster, which is operated by Luna Park. Brooklyn’s Borough President performs the traditional Egg Cream Christening of the front car of the Cyclone, after which it goes for its inaugural ride of the season.

Chuck Schumer Erik Knapp

Senator Schumer admires Erik Knapp’s Cyclone Tattoo, Opening Day, March 24, 2013. Photo via Luna Park

The Coney Island Circus Sideshow will run continuously on Palm Sunday from 1pm – 8pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids under 12.

The Coney Island History Project, located on West 12th Street under the Wonder Wheel sign, will be open special hours from 1pm-6pm for a preview of the 2015 season and free souvenir photos with vintage ride figures. Admission is free of charge.

Also opening on Palm Sunday are 12th Street Amusements and the remaining independent concessions on the Bowery and West 12th Street, including the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island,” the animated windows of “Coney Island Always,” games of skill such as Skin the Wire and Feed the Clown, and Monica, the High Striker Queen of Coney Island.

Coney Island

Monica getting ready to open her High Striker on West 12th Street in Coney Island. March 22, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

March 19, 2015: News and Views: 10 Days Till Coney Island’s Opening Day

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

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

March 29, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

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Repair crew on Coney Island Boardwalk

Repair crew on Coney Island Boardwalk. March 13, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

With Coney Island’s Palm Sunday season opener a mere 10 days away, the amusement area is a flurry of activity. New signage and work permits are affixed to buildings, job trainings and Boardwalk repairs are underway. Trenches are being dug along the Bowery and Jones Walk to lay new gas lines before the area comes fully awake from its winter slumber. City ride inspectors were on site on Wednesday inspecting rides that are ready to spin while both new rides and old favorites are still being set up in Coney Island’s amusement parks.

Scrambler Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Astroland’s Scrambler is back in Coney at the Wonder Wheel. Photo © Tricia Vita

The cars are expected to go back up on the Wonder Wheel any day now — the official first sign of Spring. Among the season’s three new family rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is the Speedway, a Nascar-inspired ride with a Whip-like twist, which ATZ previewed earlier this month. A new Drop Tower arrived on Monday, as per this photo shared via twitter…

Astroland’s popular Scrambler has been refurbished and brought home to Coney Island. The ride is now being assembled in its new spot beside the Wonder Wheel. In Luna Park, Zamperla’s Rockin’ Tug has replaced the Beach Shack, and more new rides are yet to come.

Luna Games

New ‘Luna Games’ Signage Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita

Luna Park is increasing its presence on the Boardwalk with bold electric signage for “Luna Games” and additional pinwheels, which are the park’s logo. ATZ has learned exclusively that the owner of Coney’s Cones sold his small business to landlord Central Amusements International, which operates Luna Park. The ice cream shop had one year remaining on its five-year lease. The other independent businesses on the Boardwalk including Tom’s, Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter have eight-year leases. Sources say that Zamperla will bring an Italian gelato shop to Coney Cone’s location, which is adjacent to the park’s boardwalk gate. The park is also debuting ticketbooths on the Boardwalk.

Luna Park Pinwheel

New Pinwheel, Luna Park’s logo, on the move in Scream Zone. Photo © Tricia Vita

In the Strange & Unusual Department: A giant skull long retired from duty at Wonder Wheel Park’s Spook-A-Rama dark ride was pulled out of storage and wheeled over to the Coney Island History Project. This fantastic creature will be on display this season, replacing the Cyclops head which is on loan to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art for a traveling art exhibit. Like the Cyclops, the skull’s eyes light up and move, promising some terrific selfies. The skull was a stage prop in Harvey Fierstein’s 1984 play Spookhouse and a denizen of the Coney Island Hysterical Society’s Spookhouse in the former Dragon’s Cave on the Bowery.

Skull from dark ride

Skull from dark ride en route to Coney Island History Project Photo © Tricia Vita

In Thor Equities’ building on Stillwell Avenue, work permits are posted and construction is underway on Wahlburgers, which is expected to open in May. The permits cover general construction on the first floor and the roof, where outdoor dining will be available for the celebrity burger chain . The roof currently overlooks an empty lot but as ATZ wrote in January: “Coney Island Rumor Mill: No Rides But Games, Food & Merch Coming to Thor’s Lot.”

There could be some truth to the rumor. Earlier this month, electrical service was installed on the lots. Since Thor bought the property in 2006 and evicted amusement operator Norman Kaufman, the Stillwell lots have occasionally hosted flea markets or carnivals. The lots were vacant last year as well as in 2010 and 2013, when the City issued a stop-work order on a permit for “temporary parking for the amusement district.”

Wahlburgers Coney Island

Building permits posted on window of future Wahlburgers on Stillwell Avenue, where construction is underway. Photo © Tricia Vita

Check our post on “Coney Island Amusement Park Jobs from Entry Level to Managerial Up for Grabs” for updates. New jobs being advertised included Brand Ambassadors for Luna Park, Marketing and Events Coordinator for Wahlburgers, and account Manager for Coney Island Brewing Company. Game of skill operators are needed for the 2015 season at the independent games on West 12th street off the Boardwalk. Apply in person or message @MissConeyIsland via twitter.

Luna Park Job Screening

Luna Park Job Screening at B&B Carousell. Photo © Tricia Vita

After the March 29th season opener, Coney Island’s amusement parks are open weekends and school holidays until the daily schedule kicks in Memorial Day Weekend.

More photos from this set may be viewed on flickr.

Polar Express

Polar Express, famed for its mega sound system and live DJs, getting ready for Coney Island’s Opening Day, 12th Street Amusements. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

March 6, 2015: Photo Album: Glimpses of Spring in Coney Island

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

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

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

Read Full Post »

Speedway Ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

One of NASCAR themed race cars from the Zamperla Speedway ride at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. March 2, 2015. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

This season in Coney Island, the famed Whip returns with a NASCAR twist. One of the three new family rides debuting at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park this spring is the popular Speedway, a Mangels’ Whip inspired ride manufactured by Zamperla. Race cars revolve around an oval track and whip around the ends against a colorful backdrop of race scenes. Adults and children can enjoy riding together, which is a plus for parents taking kids for their first rides at an amusement park.

Zamperla Speedway at Denos Wonder Wheel Park

Speedway ride being assembled at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. March 2, 2015. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

William F. Mangels, the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, is one of the amusement industry pioneers honored in the Coney Island Hall of Fame. The beloved vintage Mangels’ Fire Engine and Pony Cart rides in Deno’s Kiddie Park and the 1919 B&B Carousell were manufactured at the Mangels’ factory on 8th Street. The Whip, which was patented more than a century ago, in 1914, was a huge success. A 1924 ad described it as “Famous throughout the world –The WHIP! Thrilling amusement ride – a product of Coney Island – manufactured exclusively by WF Mangels- Coney Island NY USA,” followed by a list of foreign reps.

Fatty Rides the Whip

Fatty Arbuckle Rides the Whip in 1917 silent film comedy 'Coney Island'

Coney Island has had dozens of Whips, but the ride eventually disappeared from the place of its origin.

As William F. Mangels said when he was in his 80s, “This business is one of cycles. Old things come back into popularity.”

The Speedway ride will go for its first spin at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park on March 29, which is Palm Sunday and Coney Island’s Opening Day.

Zamperla Speedway

Zamperla Speedway in Action. Photo via Zamperla

Related posts on ATZ…

January 20, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park Adds Scrambler, ‘Twist & Shout’ Drop Tower

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

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

Read Full Post »

Bumble Bee Ride

Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

Remember Coney Island’s Bumble Bees? The popular kiddie ride in McCullough’s Kiddie Park left its spot on the Bowery when the family closed their park in 2012 after being unable to extend the lease. In April, the Bees will once again be awhirl after finding a wonderful new home in Canada.

ATZ learned the good news from the ride’s new owner, Jim Mills, who operates Select Shows, a traveling carnival based in Manitoba. “This past fall I purchased the Bumble Bee ride from McCullough’s Park in Coney Island,” Mills told ATZ. “During the past winter it has been totally rebuilt and going to hit the road this spring on my show.”

Coney Island Bumblebee

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration. Photo © Select Shows, Manitoba

Mills, whose family-run carnival operates from mid-April through the end of September in Manitoba and Ontario, sent us photos of the rehab. “There is a picture of the beginning of the make over and the rest are showing the painting of the last two as well as the new sweeps, all new hydraulics, electrical and complete body work, which alone for the Bees is about 400 man hours. We have put approximately $30,000 into this project so far,” says Mills, who promises to send more photos once the redo is completed and the ride is set up. He has put up a page on the show’s website about the history of the ride, which survived Hurricane Sandy. SO happy to see the Bees lovingly restored and ready to begin their new life on the road!

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration. Photo © Select Shows, Manitoba, Canada

The McCullough family operated amusements in Coney Island for four generations and their kiddie park had been on 12th Street and the Bowery since the 1960s. The often-photographed Bumble Bee ride was emblematic of Coney Island and frequently photographed with the Wonder Wheel or Parachute Jump in the background. When Astroland closed in 2008, some photographers’ captions said it was the end of the Bees because they did not realize the ride was part of a different park.

On Flickr we posted: Please note the Bumblebee ride on the Bowery and the kiddie rides surrounding it are NOT part of Astroland. McCullough’s Kiddie Park has 12 kiddie rides and is open for the 2009 season. The McCullough family is related to the Tilyous and have owned and operated rides in Coney Island for many years and we hope many years to come!

Coney Island Bumblebee

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration. Photo © Select Shows, Manitoba, Canada

Fun Facts about the Bumble Bees:

The ride’s trademark name Bumble Bee Bop was first used in 2001. This aerial kiddie carousel was designed and manufactured by Sellner, the inventor of the Tilt-A-Whirl.

McCullough’s Bumble Bee ride inspired Galloping Boy Designs T-shirt of an adventurous tabby seeing the sights of Coney Island from the back of a bumble bee. The Bees can also be glimpsed in numerous films and music videos shot in Coney.

Artist Chris DAZE Ellis, who painted a mural adjacent to McCullough’s Kiddie Park for the Dreamland Artist Club in 2004, pays tribute to the Bumble Bees in his painting Kiddyland Spirits. The 1995 painting is among his works currently on view in the touring exhibit Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Chris DAZE Ellis

Kiddyland Spirits, 1995, oil on canvas. Painting copyright Chris DAZE Ellis

Related posts on ATZ…

June 4, 2014: Astroland Rocket Finds New Home Beside the Wonder Wheel

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

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

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

Read Full Post »

In this home movie shot in Coney Island in March 1973, a group of kids climb through a broken fence and cheerfully ride the heck out of an abandoned giant slide. The cameraman even manages a few POV shots and pans up at the abandoned Parachute Jump next door. The derelict attractions were their playground. The short film, which was posted by YouTube user huntersgodfather, brings to life scenes glimpsed in remarkable documentary photos from the same year by Charles Denson.

Retired arcade operator Stan Fox tells AtZ the Giant Slide was operated for only a few years by longtime Island concessionaires the Garto brothers, who also had rides at Wonderland, the predecessor to Astroland Park.

Arthur Tress Coney Island

1973 Photo by Arthur Tress for Environmental Protection Agency Project DOCUMERICA of abandoned slide in Coney Island


“It was an abandoned slide that went in after Steeplechase was demolished. Please don’t confuse with the original Steeplechase!,” says Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project, who grew up in the neighborhood and recalls the Slide and the Jump being wide open. His photo of kids climbing the stairs to the slide against the backdrop of the neglected and vulnerable Jump appears in his book Coney Island: Lost and Found.

“I first attempted to climb the Parachute Jump in 1973, when it was a rusting, abandoned ruin. It was too dangerous,” says Denson in an intro to his film Climbing the Parachute Jump.

Parachute Kids. Photo ©  Charles Denson

Parachute Kids. Photo © Charles Denson

“In 2002 I finally realized my childhood dream and got to climb to the top of the tower. The Jump was a nature preserve. The motor room base was filled with pigeon nests and covered with muddy footprints of the raccoons who fed on the eggs. A raptor circled us at the top as we disturbed its perch, and the feet of the many small birds it had caught and devoured were spread out across the catwalks.”

Related posts on ATZ…

May 5, 2014: Up for Auction: Andreas Feininger’s Time Lapses of Coney Island Rides

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

August 27, 2012: Video of the Day: Raw Footage of 1960s Coney Island

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

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