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Posts Tagged ‘Deno's Wonder Wheel Park’

Photo © John Huntington

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

When Brooklyn photographer John Huntington took the subway to Coney Island at the start of the “Blizzard of 2015,” it was just before dusk and he had a subway car all to himself. He saw a few people heading home along Surf Avenue and a solitary figure seated on a bench looking out at the ocean. On the boardwalk, the patterns of freshly fallen snow on the slats are a lovely sight to see and to photograph, and one that will soon disappear if the Parks Department is allowed to continue replacing the wooden boards with concrete and plastic. The hibernating amusement parks and attractions provide a colorful backdrop for this storm chaser’s photos.

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard,

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

“Storm chasing requires knowledge of weather, mobility, and patience. I shoot any storm I can here in New York City, and in the spring I often chase across the great plains and beyond,” says the intro to a page with storm photos on Huntington’s blog. Among his photos are images of tornadoes in Kansas and Texas, and Coney Island and the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy.

Photo © John Huntington

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

“I’ve been chasing probably since the 80’s–my first chase was Hurricane Gloria,” Huntington told ATZ. The photographer hoped to go back to Coney on Tuesday. “I won’t be able to get out there tomorrow with no subway. This is apparently the first time they EVER shut the trains down for a snow storm,” he said. According to a popular post last night on the blog Second Avenue Sagas, the closing of the subway for a blizzard was ironic because it was built in response to people not being able to get around during the Blizzard of 1888.

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

Coney Island’s Parachute Jump, also known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, is lit nightly from dusk until midnight or later. Its 8,000 LEDs, which are said to be visible from Mars and are definitely visible on the Coney Island Cam, remained a beacon during the storm.

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

Nathan’s, which usually closes at 1 am, was one of the few places open on Monday evening. “I actually first told them trains were shutting down,” tweeted Huntington. “Kid behind the counter said he might sleep there and work tomorrow.”

How much snow did he predict for Coney? Some forecasters had begun revising projected snow totals downward.

“I won’t even guess :-) NWS is sticking to 18″ +.”

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

Related posts on ATZ…

December 29, 2014: Parachute Jump ‘Ball Drop,’ Sideshow & Fireworks at Coney Island on New Year’s Eve

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park Scrambler

Astroland Scrambler Back Home in Coney Island at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

With only 2 months and 9 days till Coney Island’s official opening day on Palm Sunday — March 29, 2015 — new rides are starting to arrive at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. This year, park co-owner Dennis Vourderis says they are bringing back the popular Scrambler and adding three new family rides, including a Twist and Shout Drop Tower to Deno’s Kiddie Park. The other two new family rides slated for the kiddie park are to be announced.

Remember Astroland’s Scrambler? It’s back at home in Coney Island at Deno’s! The Scrambler will be located between the Wonder Wheel and the Barbieri Bumper Cars, which also hail from Astroland and were refurbished and returned in 2012. With 24 cars and a huge floor, it’s the largest bumper car ride in Coney. The historic 1962 Astroland Rocket was in that spot last year and has been moved across the midway.

The new drop tower, which adults and children can ride together, is set for the corner spot on the Boardwalk at West 12th Street. Nick, Deno and Dennis Vourderis went for a test ride at the IAAPA trade show in Orlando in November. “Adults can ride this one too! Yayyyyy!!!! Ordered ours with different theming and colors,” said a post on the park’s Facebook page.

Drop Tower Wonder Wheel Park

Nick, Deno and Dennis Vourderis testing new drop tower at IAAPA in Orlando. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Related posts on ATZ…

December 28, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney’s Parachute Jump & Wonder Wheel Lit for Holidays

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

February 28, 2014: Photo Album: Wonder Wheel Park Preps for Coney Island’s Opening Day

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

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Parachute Jump Wonder Wheel

Parachute Jump and Wonder Wheel Lit for Holidays, December 24, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

This strikingly beautiful photo of two Coney Island landmarks illuminated for the holidays was taken by Bruce Handy on Christmas Eve 2013. Though the Wonder Wheel appears to be superimposed on the Parachute Jump, there’s no Photoshop trickery here. It’s precisely what the photographer saw that night. “I walked out the door of my apartment house and turned the corner and nearly fainted at the sight,” Bruce tells ATZ. “It was a Christmas Eve miracle. A complete surprise. The photo can only be taken from that exact spot.”

Ever since The Parachute Jump’s dazzling 8,000 LEDs debuted in 2013, the landmark tower’s light show has continued nightly. Specially programmed lighting schemes have paid tribute to the two slain NYPD officers, raised awareness for childhood cancer, and celebrated holidays such as the Fourth of July and Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, the Jump’s LEDs will ring in 2015 with a simulated “ball drop” and light show.

The annual tradition of putting a lighted cross atop the Wonder Wheel during the Christmas season began in 1945 to mark the end of World War II and the troops return home. During the war years, Coney Island was dark after sundown because of “dim-out” and “blackout” regulations to protect shipping from being silhouetted for the enemy by the glare from the shore. The new LED cross was made by DJ Vourderis, whose family has owned Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park for more than 30 years.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

December 22, 2013: Traveler: Christmas Holidays at Parks in Northern Climes

December 18, 2013: Photo Album: Christmas Peddlers in Old New York

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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Deno's Wonder Wheel Park Carousel

Deno’s Carousel being dismantled for the winter, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. October 29, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

After closing for the season on October 26th, the carousel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was partially disassembled and the horses were put to bed for the winter. Luckily, ATZ happened to be there to snap a few shots. Who knew that the ponies spend the off-season hibernating inside the dark ride Spook-A-Rama?! (more…)

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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.  (more…)

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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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Parrots Ride Wonder Wheel

Parrots Ride the Wonder Wheel, Coney Island. May 18, 2014. Photo via Facebook.com/SonnyMushy

On Sunday, ATZ chanced to meet these four Brooklyn parrots and their humans boarding Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Ronen, who is seen in the above photo posing with Sonny Mushy, a 12-year-old Amazon parrot, and Sky Mushy, gave us his card: “Exotic Birds — Training and Consultations.” He’s taken his birds to Coney Island before but it was their first time riding the Wheel. “Sky was a bit skittish. Sonny was okay, but all in all it was a good experience for them,” said Ronen, who brings the parrots outdoors to socialize them. “They’re pretty intelligent animals. They have the mind capacity of a five-year-old.”

Ronen and his friends are part of a new group called NYC Parrot Adventures. A video of their Sunday adventure, “Parrots Visit Coney Island,” is posted on YouTube by Michael Sazhin, who writes the Trained Parrot Blog. Sazhin brought Truman, a Cape parrot, and Kili, a Senegal parrot, to Coney Island for their second visit.

Truman made headlines last month when he went missing for 48 hours. The parrot was found in Canarsie, where he’d flown from Bensonhurst, a distance of six miles. In Coney Island, the parrots fly in avian harnesses. “They flew at the beach, ate at Nathan’s, played with loads of people, and took a ride on the historic Wonder Wheel, a Ferris Wheel landmark built in 1920,” Sazhin writes on his blog. “The birds had a fantastic time. Not only did they get sun and fresh air, but also an incredible socialization experience.”

As for parrots riding the Wheel, it’s not unusual to see dogs and other pets riding the stationary cars accompanied by their owners, usually on the park’s annual Pet Day, which is June 14th this year and includes a pet costume contest. In the contest’s first year, one of the winners was Miss Columbia’s parrot Rosita, who clasped the prize-winning season pass to the Wonder Wheel in her beak.

Rosita the Parrot

Rosita the Parrot and Miss Columbia, Pet Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, June 11, 2011. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

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Related Posts on ATZ…

January 27, 2014: AC Boardwalk, Disneyland Have Model Programs for Feral Cats–Why Not Coney Island?

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

May 8, 2013: Traveler: The Cats of Rimini’s Italia in Miniatura Park

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