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Posts Tagged ‘Deno’s Wonder Wheel’

Wonder Wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl Cars

The cars of the Wonder Wheel and other rides are removed and refurbished during the winter at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

It’s 20° and more snow (insert groans) is predicted for the weekend, but Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is busy preparing for Coney Island’s Opening Day. Palm Sunday is a mere 7 weeks away, on April 13th! ATZ got a behind-the-scenes look at the park’s annual maintenance rituals. If these photos make you yearn for spring and summer, you’re not the only one.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Getting ready for opening day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

At this time of year, the Vourderis family and their crew are at work daily getting the rides ready for the first spin of the 2014 season. Every year, the landmark 1920 Wheel is overhauled and painted, along with the park’s 20 other rides. The red, white and blue cars of Deno’s Wonder Wheel are always taken down at the end of the season and their return to the Wheel is the first sign of spring in Coney Island.

Mangels Ponycart and Wonder Wheel Cars

Mangels Ponycart and Freshly Painted Wonder Wheel Cars in Winter Storage at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The date the Wonder Wheel cars go up is subject to the vagaries of wind, weather and work schedules, but it’s usually about a week before Opening Day. As we wrote last year: Being there to see the 24 cars go up, the Swinging ones first and then the Stationary, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes.

Wonder Wheel Car being painted

Wonder Wheel Car being painted, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the other rides currently taken apart for refurbishment and painting are the Kiddie Park’s Rio Grande Train and Big Trucks. The tops of the Tilt-A-Whirl buckets are also getting a fresh coat of red.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Steve Vourderis and crew with car from Rio Grande Train, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The traditional Palm Sunday opener for Coney Island’s amusement parks is a bit later this year since the April 13th holiday is a moveable feast. Last year, Opening Day was March 24th and in 2012 it was April 1st. Opening Day festivities include the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the ceremonial Egg Cream Christening of the first car on the Cyclone Roller Coaster. Until then, this ticket booth tantalizes walkers on the snow-dappled Boardwalk.

Ticket Booth at Deno's Wonder Wonder Park in Winter.

Ticket Booth at Deno’s Wonder Wonder Park in Winter. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

March 28, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

March 19, 2012: In Just-Spring, the Wonder Wheel’s Cars Return

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Parachute Jump Xmas Lights

Happy Holiday Message on Parachute Jump Lights. Photo © Jim McDonnell

If you want to see Christmas lights, the #1 place to go in the country is the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights, according to a survey published today by MSN. Coney Island’s amusement area doesn’t have a tradition of Christmas lights since the parks are closed for the winter, but two of its official New York City landmarks are lit for the holidays and free to view.

While the lighted cross atop Deno’s Wonder Wheel has a 68-year history, the Parachute Jump’s light show is brand-new. The Jump’s dazzling 8,000 LEDs debuted in June and have been specially programmed with a “Happy Holidays” message and Christmas-y colors by Luna Park.

Currently, the Jump is lit from around 4:30pm until midnight, and sometimes later. Originally built for the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, the Parachute Jump operated as a ride in Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park until 1964. Today the landmark is known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower. Check the Coney Island webcam to be sure the Jump is lit before you go.

Wonder Wheel Xmas Cross

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 30 years.

Built in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company, the Wheel is in operation from Palm Sunday through October. Its cars are removed for the winter and put back up in the spring prior to Opening Day. From the 1980s until neighboring Astroland Park closed in 2008, the Wonder Wheel’s Christmas cross had a counterpart in the Astrotower’s lighted Star of David.

In this lyrical video by Jim McDonnell, who also took the beautiful photos in this post, you can see the cross being raised on Friday when warm temps finally melted the ice on the Wheel, allowing it to be turned. The cross remains atop the Wheel until around January 6.

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

March 19, 2013: First Sign of Spring in Coney: Cars Go up on Wonder Wheel

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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The Wonder Wheel Cars Were Put Back on the Wheel on Saturday..March 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The Wonder Wheel Cars Were Put Back on the Wheel on Saturday. March 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

After being rolled out of winter storage last week, the Wonder Wheel’s cars were put back up on the wheel on Saturday. The annual ritual is the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Being there to see the 24 cars go up, the Swinging ones first and then the Stationary, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes. The date the cars go up is subject to the vagaries of wind, weather and work schedules. This year, we managed to miss seeing it once again! Luckily, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy was on the Boardwalk when the brackets went up around noon, followed by the red and blue cars. You can see a slide show of his set here. The Wonder Wheel and the rest of Coney Island’s rides go for their first official spin of the season on Palm Sunday, which is just five days away.

Wonder Wheel

Stationary White Cars Ready to Go Up on the Wonder Wheel, March 13, 2013. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park flickr

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Related Posts on ATZ…

March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

January 25, 2013: Winter’s First Snow in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

September 4, 2010: Go Up, It’s Great! Coney Island’s & Deno’s Wonder Wheel

April 6, 2010: Photo Album: Yes, We’re Open! Easter Sunday in Coney Island

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