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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island Development Corporation’

Coney Island Flicks on the Beach

Ghostbusters at Coney Island Flicks on the Beach. July 2, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Outdoor movie shows in Coney Island date back to the early days of the cinema. Hot dog inventor Charles Feltman’s grand restaurant and amusement park boasted the Seaside Garden Theatre where films were shown with live musical accompaniment. “At every performance 2,000 persons are seated in the outdoor theatre,” according to a 1917 article in the New York Sun. “The garden has won favor with the ‘movie’ public because of its location, which is by the sea.”

The 2012 season debut of Coney Island’s free outdoor movie series on the beach was last Monday. A nice crowd came out for Ghostbusters as you can see in Bruce Handy’s photo above. The movies are projected onto a giant screen set up on the beach between W 10th and W 12th Streets. In the past, pre-show entertainment has featured the Coney Island Sideshow, celebrity impersonators, trivia contests and dancing. The pre-show is at 7pm with the feature film starting at around 8:30pm. Here’s the rest of the 2012 schedule:

July 9 – Edge of the City: Underground NY Shorts By the Sea
Edge of the City: Underground NY Shorts By the Sea is a collection of independent short films, including The Best Thing I Ever Done—an endearing account of Domenico DeMarco, owner of the legendary pizza shop Di Fara—and A Man Named Magick, about a charismatic Midtown magic shop owner. The showcase begins at 8:30pm.

July 14 – Bound for Glory (1976)
David Carradine plays Woody Guthrie in this Oscar-winning biopic, set in the Dust Bowl, about the folk artist’s experience with the working class after leaving Texas to join the Okies headed to California in search of work.

July 16 – Manhattan (1979)
See Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway and Meryl Streep in Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning love story.

July 23 – The Muppets (2011) (Postponed due to rain)
Jim Henson’s much-loved characters return to the big screen, as Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) aim to reunite the gang in an attempt to salvage The Muppet Theater.

July 30 – Girl Walk // All Day (2011)
This feature-length film is actually a long-form dance music video, featuring three dancers who use the cityscape as their stage. The movie is set to Girl Talk’s sample-heavy 2010 album, All Day.

August 6 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt in the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series. Hunt and his team, who are implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, must go rogue to clear the Impossible Missions Force’s name.

August 13 – The Muppets – Rescheduled from July 23
Jim Henson’s much-loved characters return to the big screen, as Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) aim to reunite the gang in an attempt to salvage The Muppet Theater.

The free movie series in Coney Island is sponsored by the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) and NYC & Company in conjunction with Rooftop Films.

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May 13, 2012: Coney Island Fireworks 2012: Fridays, 4 Saturdays & July 4th

January 8, 2012: Video of the Day: Coney Island at Night by Edwin S. Porter

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Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ruby's Bar & Grill in Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Despite the Monday Morning Massacre of the Boardwalk businesses, Halloween was not Ruby’s last day after all. The bar’s devotees have put out a call via Facebook and email to “all Ruby’s family and friends”: Ruby’s will open, possibly for the last time, on Saturday, November 6th. “We are not going quietly, ” Rubys host said in an email. “Come out and show your support.” The rally/party begins around 12:30 pm and goes on till 6 pm or later.

On Facebook, supporters were urged to bombard Zamperla, the Mayor and local pols, and the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) with e-mails and phone calls. “Ruby’s has been told they have 15 days to get out. If you want to see them stay they need your help please CALL or send letters.” A petition “Renew Ruby’s Lease” is on the Petition Site as well as Facebook. By 1 am on Wednesday morning, the petition had nearly 200 signatures. The goal is 10,000, but time is short. The petition begins…

Dear Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Ferrari,

It has been brought to my attention that a historic piece of Coney Island is being kicked out. How does a business that has been there since 1934 get kicked out?

The Last Night at Ruby's Bar. October 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

The Last Night at Ruby's Bar. October 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

While one of our Facebook friends said she “unliked” the CIDC’s very popular “Coney Island” page in protest, others went there to post links to the petition or voice their displeasure. “I’m posting to protest the eviction of Ruby’s from Coney Island, a 76-year-old family business that is being cruelly ousted,” one poster wrote. “If this plan goes forward, I hereby pledge not to patronize any of the newly-developed businesses and will tell my family, friends, and colleagues to do the same.” UPDATE: This afternoon, the CIDC asserted control over their “Coney Island” page by removing some, but not all, of the links posted by irate fans and removing the link button. “I guess you want to silence us hmm..,” a poster wrote.

Nine small businesses on the Boardwalk are getting the boot from City-owned land in Coney Island with nary a peep nor a press release from the CIDC/NYCEDC. It seems to us that all of a sudden the City is a very silent partner in its much touted and (until now) highly regarded public-private partnership with the amusement operator. Instead of holding the usual joint press conference, the City is distancing itself from the bad news and letting Zamperla play the role of the bad guy.

According to the NYCEDC’s Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP, which was won by Zamperla in February: “Responses to this RFP should articulate whether they include or exclude these [Boardwalk] structures or footprints, beginning at the earliest in Year 2 of operations.” But it also says “The Selected Respondent may propose to include subtenants for portions of their proposed operations, but such subtenants, and such subtenant agreements, shall be subject to NYCEDC approval.”

In other words, the City, which owns the property, has final say which businesses come or go.

At Ruby's Bar: Harpo Marx & Coney Island: Lost and Found.  April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

At Ruby's Bar: Harpo Marx & Coney Island: Lost and Found. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

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May 22, 2013: Photo Album: Welcome Back, Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar!

May 19, 2012: Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar Reopen on Saturday, Restored Signs to Return!

April 16, 2012: Art of the Day: Fresh Corn on the Cob at Ruby’s Bar & Grill

November 1, 2010: Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back

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Lynn Kelly in front of Lynn's Trapeze in Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lynn Kelly in front of Lynn's Trapeze in Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last night at Lynn Kelly’s Bon Voyage Party at Vig Bar in Nolita, men in suits and blue wigs were spilling out onto the sidewalk by the time we arrived. The invite had said “Leave Your Everyday Hair Color at Home.” The guest of honor was clad in the pink wig and sequined dress that have been her signature costume for Coney Island’s Mermaid Parades and Galas.

After four years as vice president of the City’s Economic Development Corporation and president of the Coney Island Development Corporation, Kelly is leaving for a new career as president/CEO of Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island. But we think she has sand in her shoes and will come back to Coney to visit Lynn’s Trapeze, which was named in her honor, and bring a Snug Harbor float to the Mermaid Parade.

Now just a sec, while we order a drink from the customized menu. What’ll you have? Lynn Fizz….Kami-Kelly….Lunapolitan? How about a Coney Island Iced Tea…

Cheers and Congratulations!

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October 11, 2010: Is Lynn’s Trapeze Still Lynn’s? What about the B & B?

June 7, 2010: Fence Wrap Advertising Comes to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue

February 22, 2010: Coney Island’s Luna Park Launches Blog Site, Lists Job Openings

November 25, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Island Shines at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Vegas

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Advertising on Fence Wraps, Stillwell Ave East ,Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

AFTER: Advertising on Fence Wraps, Stillwell Ave East, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thanks to some fence wrap magic, tourists who walk down Stillwell Ave on their way to the Beach and Boardwalk will no longer be confronted by abandoned flea market tents and empty lots. In April, the Coney Island Development Corporation initiated the fence wrap project for the City’s parcels on the Boardwalk side of Stillwell, where CAI/Zamperla will build Scream Zone after finishing work on Luna Park.

Thor Equities abandoned flea market, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

BEFORE: Thor Equities abandoned flea market tents on Stillwell Ave East, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Since Thor Equities Stillwell lots have remained vacant, the CIDC got permission to install the wraps on Thor’s property as well. The advertising campaign does a good job of hiding what remains of Thor’s tent structures from last summer’s failed flea market. The structures are on Thor’s land only, since the city cleared their section of Stillwell after the property was purchased from Thor in November. The mesh banners advertise the Brooklyn Cyclones, Ringling’s Coney Island Illuscination, the Cyclone Roller Coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and the Coney Island Fun Guide’s “More Ooohs. New Aaahs” campaign. Kudos to the CIDC’s Lynn Kelly and Nathan Bliss, who were seen installing the fence wraps themselves without any help from Joe Sitt.

Advertising on Fence Wraps, Thor Equities Stillwell West lot. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

AFTER: Advertising on Fence Wraps, Thor Equities Stillwell West lot. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Not exactly news: Thor Equities’ flashy ad in IAAPA Funworld amounts to a charade because Sitt failed to lease his property to any of the amusement operators who came to New York to negotiate a deal. While the City can’t force Sitt to rent his property, it appears that he was made to clean up his mess. The tent sidewalls and tops have come down since we reported that bedraggled tents were the first sight visitors see when they stroll down Stillwell Avenue (“Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Vacant Buildings,” April 21).

But the framework remains standing since Sitt was reportedly asking prospective tenants to pay the cost. “They won’t take it down. It costs 10 grand to take it down,” Mark Lovell of Universal Fairs told ATZ last month (“Scoop: Deal to Rent Thor’s Coney Island Lots a No-Go for Fair Producer, May 13). Rumor has it that yet another potential tenant is waiting to sign a lease. Sorry, we’ll believe it when they’re set up and selling tickets! Let’s not forget what Stillwell looked like before Joe Sitt bought the property and got rid of the amusements.

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Stillwell West. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

BEFORE: Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Stillwell West. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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April 29, 2010: Photo of the Day: Interior of Coney Island’s Doomed Henderson Music Hall

April 29, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!

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

February 11, 2010: Photo of the Day: NYCEDC Signs Herald New Coney Island Amusement Park

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For the 2010 season, the CIDC’s Coney Island Fun Guide team is launching a visitor hotline called the Coney Island Fun Phone. A template version of the Fun Phone has been up and running since October to get feedback from Coney Island amusement area stakeholders.

We jotted down the phone number at the stakeholders meeting where the idea was introduced. The project strikes us as very promising. Someone asked how the Fun Phone will be marketed. Well, here you go…

Dial 1-877-71-CONEY

The hotline’s official launch date has yet to be announced, but the number is already posted on the Coney Island Fun Guide’s Facebook Fan Page. We recommend saving the number in your cellphone right now. Coney Island’s official opening day is March 28th–just 53 days away!

The Coney Island Fun Phone’s main menu includes Upcoming Events, Directions & Parking, Rides & Attractions, Eating, Shopping, Voice Mail for Fun Phone Team and return to the main and sub menus. If you hit #3 for Rides & Attractions, you’ll get the menu for 6 different attractions including the Beach and Boardwalk, The Cyclones, Cyclone Roller Coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, New York Aquarium, Ringling Circus, and submenu access to 10 more attractions.

The CIDC’s Daniel Mulé, who is the voice of the Coney Island Fun Phone Team, has recorded short and engaging descriptions of the attractions along with prices, hours and phone numbers. Here’s a sample….

Beach and Boardwalk

At the Coney Island beachfront you can find the perfect spot along two miles of sandy shoreline or enjoy a stroll along the legendary Riegelmann Boardwalk. The Beach and Boardwalk are free for all visitors and accessible year round. The beach is open for swimming from 10 am to 6 pm all summer from Memorial Day Weekend till Labor Day Weekend. For more information on beach rules and regulations contact the park manager at 718-946-1353.

The Fun Phone seems to be geared to people who are unable to access the web-based Coney Island Fun Guide. Perhaps they do not use a computer. Or they don’t have web access on their cellphones.

The restaurant listings and phone numbers came in handy when we were in Coney Island with friends who suddenly changed their plan about where to eat. The Fun Phone offers a wide range of dining choices. In addition to Nathan’s Famous and places on the Boardwalk, you’ll find out about Surf Ave sit-down bars and eateries like Peggy O’Neill’s, Ragazzi’s Pizza, Footprints Café, and Surf & Turf, and neighborhood mainstays like Gargiulo’s, Totonno’s and Coney Island Soup Shop. We bet there’s a restaurant on the Fun Phone that some regular visitors have not tried yet.

ATZ gives the Coney Island Fun Guide high marks. Before the Guide was launched last summer, there was no such thing as a comprehensive calendar of Coney events. Coney Island is not a single operator amusement park like Six Flags, but an amusement district made up of many individually owned and operated businesses. During the season, the Cyclone Roller Coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the Coney Island Sideshow and other attractions field hundreds of phone calls from potential visitors with general questions about Coney Island. This season they will be able to redirect some of the callers to the hotline.

Please note that the Fun Phone is still under development and hasn’t been updated for the 2010 season yet. “We will definitely get it live for the summer,” says Mulé. “No official launch date scheduled — pending some further comprehensive thinking about our marketing efforts for this year.”

The Coney Island Fun Guide also has an e-newsletter and a Facebook Fan Page that you can join now.

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Coney Island was in the spotlight at the November 16-20 IAAPA (The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Expo 2009 in Las Vegas. Among the 1000-plus exhibitors at the world’s largest conference and trade show for the attractions industry was the Coney Island Development Corporation, whose RFP for a 10-year lease with the City of New York for a “Coney Island Amusement Operator” was the talk of the show floor. (Read our take on “The Contenders from A to Z.”) At the show’s Kickoff Event on Nov. 17, Fred Thompson and Skip Dundy, the creators of Coney Island’s legendary Luna Park (1903-1946), were posthumously inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame.

Accepting the IAAPA Hall of Fame Award on behalf of Coney Island’s amusement pioneers were historian Charles Denson, Executive Director of the Coney Island History Project, and Carol Hill Albert, co-founder of the Coney Island History Project and operator of Coney Island’s Cyclone roller coaster. “We’d like to see Coney Island rebuilt with the same sense of creativity and wonder that Thompson and Dundy showed 100 years ago,” said Denson, who accepted the award on behalf of Elmer “Skip” Dundy. According to Dundy’s obituary in the New York Times, “Mr. Thompson supplied the inventive faculty for the concern, and Mr. Dundy attended to the no less complicated matter of obtaining three-quarters of a million required to start the enterprise. When the gates were thrust open to the public, the partners had just $11 between them.”

“I’m thrilled for the Coney Island History Project to be accepting this award on behalf of Fred Thompson,” said Carol Hill Albert, who founded the History Project with her husband Jerome Albert in honor of Dewey Albert, creator of Astroland Park. “Coney Island’s fabulous history was always an answer to ‘Can You Top This’ and Fred Thompson placed the bar so high that even today amusement parks all over the world are reaping its benefit.” The award, which is considered the industry’s highest honor, was presented by Tim O’Brien, VP Communications for Ripley Entertainment Inc. and chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee. Additional info about the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Thompson & Dundy’s work is available on the IAAPA and Coney Island History Project websites.

Nate Bliss and Lynn Kelly of the Coney Island Development Corporation and Laura Kirschbaum from NYCEDC drummed up interest in “Coney Island’s Next Act” at their booth at the trade show. The CIDC was a first time exhibitor at the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 in Orlando. This year, the CIDC went to Vegas as a Silver Sponsor (banner signage in lobbies, enhanced Show Guide listing and more) to showcase the City of New York’s RFP for a “Coney Island Amusement Operator.” “We’re looking for the new Luna Park developers, if you will,” said Lynn Kelly, president of the CIDC, at a special information session for prospective bidders. “This is a unique moment in time for Coney Island, to bring it back to life in a 21st century way. We’re thrilled to be here again and to have something substantive to offer this industry.”

Coney Islanders in Vegas: Dennis Vourderis of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park (center) visits Manny Cohen and Stan Fox of Coney Island Arcade USA in their booth. For Coney Island’s amusement operators, attending the IAAPA conference and trade show for the attractions industry is an annual ritual. Coney Island Arcade manufactures and sells coin op amusement games. Cohen also operates an arcade on the Bowery at 12th Street in the heart of Brooklyn’s world-famous amusement area. “Business was better than I expected. There was a lot of activity and interest,” said Fox, whose family owned arcades in Coney Island since the 1940s.

IAAPA estimates that 24,000 people, including approximately 14,700 buyers, from 108 nations participated in the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas. Attendees from Coney Island included Steve Vourderis and sons, of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and Cyclone roller coaster staff and crew members, who enrolled in IAAPA’s educational programs and ride safety seminars. On IAAPA Museum Day, Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project attended the seminar “Museums, Arts and Culture, and Economic Development” presented by Jack Rouse and Stephen Sheppard. On November 20, it was goodbye Vegas, see you on Palm Sunday (opening day of the season) in Coney Island and next November at the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010 in Orlando! A big thank you to Charles Denson for sharing his IAAPA photo album.

Related posts on ATZ…

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

December 18, 2009: Ciao Coney Island! Will Ruby’s, Shoot the Freak, Astrotower & Other Oldies Survive?

November 23, 2009: The Contenders from A to Z: Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP

August 5, 2009: Coney Island Has 56 Rides and 33 More Days of Summer!

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At the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas, the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) hosted an information session regarding the City's RFP for a development contract.  Photo © Charles Denson

At the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas, the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) hosted an information session regarding the City

Who is bidding on the RFP (Request for Proposals) to bring amusements to the City of New York’s soon-to-be-purchased 6.9 acres in Coney Island? It’s more like—who isn’t bidding? The contenders are quite literally from A for Astroland and Amusements of America to Z for Zamperla.

At last week’s IAAPA Attractions Expo in Vegas, amusement park and carnival operators and ride manufacturers were busy forming alliances and putting together proposals for the Astroland site (Parcel A) and Boardwalk properties (Parcels B and C). The City is offering up to a 10 year lease to a single operator or a team to develop what CIDC president Lynn Kelly described as “a new park that feels like Coney Island—it can’t be any cookie-cutter establishment.” The stakes are high: The person or team who pulls this off successfully is likely to be the top candidate ten years in the future for the RFP to operate the proposed 12-acre “Permanent Amusement Park” in Coney Island.

Parcels A, B & C Are Up for Bid. Detail of the CIDC’s Map of the Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP Sites.  Credit: Coney Island Development Corporation

Parcels A, B & C Are Up for Bid. Detail of the CIDC’s Map of the Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP Sites. Credit: Coney Island Development Corporation

Most Likely To Succeed? The A’s and the Z

A is for Amusements of America, the Vivona family’s traveling carnival, which advertises itself as “America’s Most Imaginative Midway.” Based in New Jersey with winter quarters in South Carolina, A of A has been in negotiations with Joe Sitt since August to bring rides and attractions to Coney Island in 2010. The Vivonas made their first of two or three site visits to Coney Island when Thor Equities’ Dreamland Park and flea market were still open for business.

Asked if they’d apply for the Coney Island RFP, Amusement of America’s Dominic Vivona told ATZ, “”We’ve got our hat in the ring and we’re hoping we’ll get picked. So is everybody else.” As for the rumor they’re set to lease what remains of Sitt’s property on Stillwell and Surf: “It might happen. But nothing’s happening now,” said Vivona. Then he added: “We’re interested in going to Coney Island, whether it’s with the City or someone else.”

Amusements of America was founded in 1940 with the purchase of the Ferris Wheel from the 1939 World’s Fair and now has a mighty arsenal of rides. The Vivona’s route stretches from the Ohio State Fair to winter dates in the Caribbean. Among their innovations is one of the first traveling schools for children whose parents work with the carnival. If you’ve been to the State Fair Meadowlands in New Jersey, which boasts “over 150 rides and attractions,” you’ve been to Amusements of America’s midway. Will A of A send their Crazy Mouse coaster to Coney Island for the season?

Astroland's Iconic Sign at Night. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Astroland's Iconic Sign at Night. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

A is for Astroland, the hometown favorite, and for Carol Albert, the longtime operator of Coney Island’s Cyclone roller coaster and co-sponsor of the Friday night fireworks. The public perception is that Astroland is Coney Island and the City’s purchase of the former Astroland site assures the return of the beloved park. Astroland was founded by Albert’s father-in-law Dewey Albert in 1962. In 1987, on the 25th anniversary of Astroland, the New York Post hailed the Alberts as “the family that keeps Coney Island rolling,” adding that while so much of Coney Island had burned down or was in decay, the Alberts kept the Cyclone running and kept expanding the park. By way of explanation, Dewey’s son Jerome Albert told the reporter, “We have sand in our shoes.”

When we first met Carol Albert in 2004 to interview her for a story about Astroland for IAAPA’s Funworld Magazine, we learned that before Albert began managing the family owned park, she had a successful career as a novelist and editor in chief. Our favorite Carol Albert quote in the story is “I think the amusement business engages a lot of the same sensibilities as the literary field. I mean it helps if you’re a close observer of people and what they like.”

Albert has been working for some time on plans for a futuristic Astroland Park featuring a majority of new rides. It makes us think about George C. Tilyou building a bigger, better Steeplechase after his first park was damaged by a fire. The second Steeplechase captured people’s imagination with its new steel and glass Pavilion of Fun, unique rides like the Human Pool Table, an array of carousels, and a longer and improved Steeplechase ride. The second Astroland’s new rides and attractions would be a potent symbol of the rebirth of Coney Island. At the same time, we yearn for the return of the iconic Surf Avenue gate and the demon from Dante’s Inferno.

Ride manufacturer Zamperla's booth at the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas. Photo © Charles Denson

Ride manufacturer Zamperla's booth at the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas. Photo © Charles Denson

Z is for the international ride manufacturer Zamperla, which operates Victorian Gardens in New York’s Central Park as well as its own amusement park in Italy. According to “MinitaliaLeolandia – Zamperla’s New Showroom!” in the July issue of Park World, the company took a stake in a park 90 minutes from their factory to showcase their rides and now two thirds of the park’s major attractions are Zamperla-built. Alberto Zamperla told Park World: “First of all, my family used to be ride operators. Zamperla is one of the most innovative companies in the business and we have come up with many new rides in recent years. To have all these new rides not far away from the factory, it’s a great thing. The park also benefits because it gets new rides on the market that no on else has; there is a very good synergy.” Will Coney Island’s new amusement park become a showroom for Zamperla’s New Jersey-based North American operation?

Zamperla’s website has 80 rides including some of our favorite kiddie rides as well as thrill rides: the Power Surge, Disk’O Coaster and Surf’s Up. The Vertical Swing is Zamperla’s version of the Star Flyer ride featured in the CIDC’s original renderings. The Coney Island Rumor Mill got wind of Zamperla’s interest in Coney Island this summer. The idea was the company would try out prototypes in Coney Island, an exciting prospect that calls to mind the heyday of Coney when the first models of any new rides would come here. But there wasn’t much point in speculating about it until the City announced the $100M land buy on Nov 11, one week after the re-election of Mayor Bloomberg. ATZ’s sources at the IAAPA show confirmed that Zamperla is indeed a contender.

Zamperla Rockin' Tug at McCullough's Kiddie Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Zamperla Rockin' Tug at McCullough's Kiddie Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Zamperla, whose CEO of their US division is on the CIDC’s Amusement Advisory Board, is considered the front runner by other potential bidders. Some of them were saying “done deal” due to the short time frame and terms of the RFP. But a number of other CIDC Amusement Advisory Board members are rumored to be fielding their own proposals. Notable among them is Board Chair Jim Seay of Premier Rides, a coaster manufacturer. A reread of the EDC’s original press release from March 2009 confirms that these experts were invited to “help structure and expedite the City’s plans for interim amusements at Coney Island in Summer 2010. The panel will also assist the City in continued planning efforts for a permanent amusement operation and development of a 27-acre amusement and entertainment district at Coney Island.” Foot in door? Definitely. Done deal? We’ll find out who won soon enough. The RFP deadline is December 18. In mid-December, the NYCEDC “selects a short list of respondents and sends draft lease for respondent review.” The final selection will be made in January 2010.

Other members of the Coney Island Amusement Advisory Panel are Chip Cleary, Senior VP, Palace Entertainment and First Vice Chair, IAAPA Executive Board; Jim Pattison, President, Ripley Entertainment, Inc.; Tony Catanoso, President & CEO, Atlantic City Steel Pier; Nikki Nolan, Executive VP & Managing Director of International, Great Wolf Resorts; David Rockwell, Founder and CEO, Rockwell Group; Valerio Ferrari, President & CEO, Zamperla USA; Kieran E. Burke, former Chairman and CEO of Six Flags, Inc.; Al Weber, Management Affiliate, MidOcean Partners and former President & CEO, Palace Entertainment; Will Morey and Jack Morey, Co-Owners, The Morey Organization.

It’s more like—who isn’t bidding?

C is for current, former and wannabe Coney Island operators who are reported to be bidding on Parcel B to replace the lost batting cages and go karts, which were bulldozed by Joe Sitt when he acquired the land from Hy Singer. Since the RFP favors a single operator for all three parcels, we have to wonder if they’ve teamed up with operators bidding on the other two lots?

Geren Rides' Reverchon Himalaya at Dreamland Park, Coney Island. Labor Day Weekend 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Geren Rides' Reverchon Himalaya at Dreamland Park, Coney Island. Labor Day Weekend 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

D is for three separate bidders associated with two different Dreamlands. We just want to clarify that this trio of Dreamlanders has no connection whatsoever with Lola Staar’s Dreamland Roller Rink or the recently rediscovered Dreamland Bell! The proliferation of Dreamlands was inspired by Coney’s original Dreamland Park (1904-1911).

Anthony Raffaele, who operated Dreamland Park on Thor Equities’ property in 2009 is said to be applying. Glenn Geren, who owned the majority of rides at Thor’s Dreamland in 2008 and 2009 told ATZ “I will definitely apply.” Before Joe Sitt shuttered Dreamland and sold the property to the city, Geren completed purchase of a Reverchon Himalaya, a Schwarzkopf Wildcat Coaster and other rides with the intention of bringing them to Coney Island in 2010. Bob DeStefano’s Dreamland Amusements, a Long Island-based carnival that has no association whatsoever with Thor Equities’ Dreamland is reportedly preparing a bid as well.

We know some potential bidders are being secretive or cagey, so we’ll keep their names a secret for now. With 14,700 VIP registrants at the IAAPA Attractions Expo and the Coney Island Development Corporation’s high visibility as a Silver Sponsor, we’re pretty sure there are other bidders who aren’t on our radar. This makes it hard to predict who will end up getting the job. We’re just thrilled that it looks like it’s going to be a Happy New Year for Coney Island’s amusement area and we’re going to be getting a lot of new rides and attractions starting Memorial Day 2010. We can’t wait till ATZ readers stop asking the question “Is Coney Island closed?”

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November 25, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Island Shines at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Vegas

August 5, 2009: Coney Island Has 56 Rides and 33 More Days of Summer!

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