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Posts Tagged ‘Eldorado Bumper Cars’

Eldorado Bumper Cars

Eldorado Bumper Cars, Surf Avenue, Coney Island. September 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

Bump and dance! Coney Island’s amusement parks closed for the season at the end of October, but this weekend–November 2nd and 3rd– you can still go for a ride at the Eldorado Bumper Cars, play games in the arcade, bust balloons at the stands on the Bowery, and dance with Miss Coney Island.

Gordon Lee, who operates the independently owned disco palace of bumper cars on Surf Avenue, says he will keep it open Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon till whenever–usually 8 or 9pm.

Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island, 25 Cents a Dance. October 20, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

On West 12th Street near the Boardwalk, the windows featuring the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” will be open from 2pm, along with Skin the Wire, Roll-A-Coaster and other whimsical games. “Don’t Postpone Joy,” says a sign on the door. It’s still costs only 25 cents a dance or to set the mechanical rides awhirl.

Treasure boxes

Next Door to Miss Coney Island: ‘Limoge Inspired’ Treasure Boxes for Sale. October 20, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

You can start your Christmas shopping too. The stand next door to Miss Coney Island has been transformed into a gift shop with glass pendants ($5.00 each) and “Limoge inspired” treasure boxes galore ($8.00 each). ATZ bought a mermaid-shaped treasure box but there are plenty more. Each box holds tiny secret treasures like the three little ducklings seen below.

See “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round” for info on what’s doing in Coney’s amusement area in November.

Tiny ducks

Tiny ducks inside the duck-shaped treasure box. October 20, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related posts on ATZ…

September 2, 2013: Photo of the Day: Skin the Wire and Feed the Clown

March 21, 2013: Photo of the Day: Miss Coney Island Meets Miss Coney Island

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

March 27, 2012: Video of the Day: Eldorado Auto Skooter at Coney Island (2011)

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Yesterday, Banksy unveiled a Bumper Car-riding Reaper in Manhattan and posted this video set to the tune of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” The installation is at Houston and Elizabeth Streets, where it’s on view from dusk till midnight through Sunday. “Welcome to the fair — which life isn’t,” says the audio guide to the piece.

With 5 days left in his “Better Out Than In” tour of New York City, we’re still waiting for Banksy to create a piece of street art in Coney Island. He has chosen locations in the South Bronx, Staten Island and Queens but the majority of his pieces are in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Heights, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Red Hook, East New York and Sunset Park. How can you visit the City for a month and not do Coney Island?! There’s still time, Banksy– Coney Island’s amusement rides are open through Sunday, but the rest of Coney is open year round!

Os Gemeos Coney Island

Os Gemeos Mural on Stillwell Ave, Coney Island. October 30, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island has a rich tradition of street art. Guerrilla art by RAE and post-Sandy MERCY graffiti by an unknown artist have appeared this year. OverUnder, ND’A, Veng, Radical and Ephameron painted murals for a project curated by Keith Schweitzer for No Longer Empty in 2011.

Os Gemeos, the Brazilian twins whom Banksy collaborated with on 24th Street in Chelsea have a 130-foot mural on Coney’s Stillwell Avenue that dates back to 2005. Work by Steve Powers, whose Dreamland Artists Club in collaboration with Creative Time brought new signage to Coney Island, can still be seen on the staircase at Coney Island USA, West 12th Street’s Miss Coney Island and Skin the Wire, and the Eldorado Bumper Cars on Surf Ave. Sideshow banners by Marie Roberts have emblazoned the facade of Coney Island USA’s headquarters since 1997.

Tonight at the Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade, there’s a “Things That Go Bump in the Night” Halloween party. Free unlimited “Bump Your Ass Off” bumper car rides are included with the price of admission. The DJ lineup includes Groove Therapy artists Bass Age, Chris See, Dali, Hardbass Addicts, Nicky Twist, Steve Nice and TJFX. Time: 9pm – 3am, Age: 18+, Tickets: $20.

UPDATE October 28, 2013:

Banksy’s newest work is in Coney Island! A robot spray-painting a mysterious barcode on Stillwell Avenue at Neptune

Eldorado Auto Skooters

Eldorado Auto Skooters sign by Steve Powers, Surf Avenue in Coney Island. September 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 18, 2013: Art of the Day: Street Art by RAE in Coney Island

February 16, 2013: Photo Album: Post-Sandy MERCY Graffiti in Coney Island

February 5, 2012: Botched Job: Coney Island Art Exiled by Thor Equities

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

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We’re marking the year’s end with a look back at ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2012 along with updates. Thanks to the writers and readers who linked to our posts this year. Thanks to everyone who shared comments, both online and in person. If you’re already subscribing to ATZ updates via Feedburner, the service is now virtually defunct since Google is in the process of shutting it down. Email updates have not been going out for several days though this one was sent. We recommend resubscribing via WordPress.com’s new “Follow Amusing the Zillion” widget in the right column. There’s also an RSS feed at the top of the page.

Flood Line

Surf Avenue: Flood Line on Coney Island Mural. Photo © Jim McDonnell

1. “Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island,” October 30, 2011 and “Photos of the Day: Hurricane Sandy Approaches Coney Island,” October 29, 2012

The biggest Coney Island news story of the year was of course Hurricane Sandy. Photos of the approaching SuperStorm in Coney Island and Sea Gate by Charles Denson and the day after in Coney Island by Jim McDonnell had the most visitors followed by updates on the storm’s impact in the amusement area. During the storm surge, Surf Avenue as well as Mermaid and Neptune Avenues and adjacent streets were submerged in 4 to 5 feet of water that came from the bay, the creek, overflowing sewers and the rising tide. Jim McDonnell’s photos from the day after Hurricane Sandy show the high water mark at Surf and Stillwell, the twisted sign on the landmarked Shore Theater and the damaged Steeplechase Pier.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy: Waves Crashing at Sea Gate. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Luckily, the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel will be fine and the parks are scheduled to open as usual on Palm Sunday, which is March 24, 2013. However, cleanup and rebuilding is an ongoing effort for the parks, arcades and other businesses in Coney Island’s amusement area as well as for the neighborhood. For post-Sandy news, see “Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy,” November 9, 2012 and “Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage,” November 24, 2012. How can you help? Read “Coney Island Nonprofits Begin to Raise Funds After Sandy,” December 10, 2012.

Coney Island Zipline

Coney Island Zipline. August 18, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

ATZ’s #2 news story based on page views was “Zip Line Coming to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue in July,” June 28, 2012. There was so much interest in this high-thrill attraction that managed to open only briefly, we’d be surprised if somebody didn’t open a zip line next season. The scaffolding remains standing behind Nathan’s, apparently undamaged by Sandy. Plans to install the 60-foot-high, 400-foot-long zip line in Coney Island first came to our attention in June via an introductory special on Pinchit of 50 percent off the regular price. Originally set to open on July 1, the zip line’s debut was rescheduled for late July and then August due to permitting delays. After umpteen updates to our original post, ATZ tweeted on September 12: “Wow, will the long delayed Coney Island Zipline open this weekend?!?! Right now people are zipping across in test runs #BetterLateThanNever.” Our final update: The ride was open for a day and a half before being closed by the City for permit issues and will not reopen. On October 8th, ATZ received an email from the BK Festival operators which said: “After a very long and difficult process the city still didn’t issue the permit needed to operate the zip line.”

Rathskellar

Remnant of Under the Boardwalk Rathskeller from 1940s. Photo © Brooklyn Beach Shop

3. In January, ATZ broke the news of the discovery of a “Remnant of Under Boardwalk Bar Found in Coney Island,” January 31, 2012. Menus of one of the rathskellers that thrived under the Boardwalk in the 1940s and ’50s were found on a basement wall by Maya Haddad of Brooklyn Beach Shop when she moved into the first floor. The name of the rathskeller remains unknown, but beer and milk were 10 cents, coffee was a nickel. The sandwich menu included hamburger, egg, cream cheese, American cheese, Swiss cheese, Sardine or Salmon, Ham, Salami or Liverwurst, Ham & Egg, and a Western. Could this be the place where the boy in the 1953 movie The Little Fugitive returned soda bottles to collect money to go on the rides?

Grimaldi's Coney Island

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Coney Island. June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

4. “Opening Today: Coney Island Grimaldi’s Pizzeria,” June 23, 2012

After three months of construction, an outpost of the famed DUMBO pizzeria Grimaldi’s opened in Coney Island on Mermaid Parade Weekend. Located on the north side of Surf Avenue across the street from the amusement parks, its illuminated sign boasts a 3-D Brooklyn Bridge and a New York City skyline. Inside the cavernous space, vintage photos of old Coney Island and the City’s rendering of the new Coney Island line the brick walls. Despite Grimaldi’s policy of “No Credit Cards – No Reservations – No Slices – No Delivery,” the new restaurant quickly became a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Its success has helped make the north side of Surf attractive to national franchisees including a Johnny Rockets and an Applebee’s, who have snapped up leases on neighboring storefronts. Grimaldi’s is among the many local businesses that suffered flood damage from Sandy and is expected to reopen in the spring.

Thor Equities

Thor Equities New Building at Surf & Stillwell. January 29, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

5. “Thor’s Coney Island: Generic New Building at Surf & Stillwell,” February 2, 2012

After seven years of real estate speculation and many grandiose renderings, the construction fencing came down from Thor Equities first-ever new construction in Coney Island (flea market tents don’t count) to reveal a sterile-looking building suited for a suburban mall. The site is on the southeast corner of Surf and Stillwell, the gateway to Coney’s Beach and Boardwalk as well as Scream Zone’s roller coasters and thrill rides. A few weeks later, the vacant building was encased in plywood. Just before Christmas, Thor Equities announced a plan to lease space in the building to Brooklyn business owners at a 40% rent reduction for a one-year lease term, which makes us think it’s best suited for a “pop-up store.” As much as the building looks out of place in Coney Island, we hope it can be activated for some kind of creative use this summer.

Trolley poles

Surviving century old trolley poles in front of Luna Park. February 20, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

6. “Thor Destroys 119-Year-Old Relics of Coney Trolley History,” February 21, 2012

When Thor Equities laid a new sidewalk on Surf Avenue in front of the building pictured in #5, two trolley utility poles which date back to the 1890s and had been documented in previous photos were demolished. What is the history of these humble artifacts? ATZ learned that when trolley service on the Surf Avenue-Seagate line ended on December 1, 1946, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce requested that the poles on both sides of Surf Avenue be left in place in the amusement area to be used for holiday decorations. Ten years ago, 64 poles were counted. There are currently 43 poles along Surf Avenue, including the ones in front of Luna Park pictured above, which are painted red, white and blue.

Employees at Luna Park

Employees at Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

7. “Summer Jobs: From Coney Island to the Carnival Midway,” February 24, 2012

While we got hits on this post throughout the year, February is the time to begin applying for a job if you’d like to work in Coney Island or travel across the country with a carnival. In 2012, Central Amusement International, operator of Coney Island’s Luna Park and Scream Zone, and Nathan’s Famous, together with the Coney Island Development Corporation, announced their first recruitment event for seasonal positions at the end of February with subsequent events in March and April. Seasonal jobs include Ride and Game Operators, Food and Beverage Service, Park Service, Customer Service/Retail Sales and Ticket Sales Associates/Cashiers. If the idea of traveling to 20 states and 4 Canadian provinces, including 10 of the top 50 fairs in North America is appealing, then you may want to check out North American Midway Entertainment’s Careers page.

Eldorado

Eldorado Auto Skooter, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

8. “60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado,” March 20, 2012

In March, Sheila Buxbaum Fitlin and Sandy Fitlin, whose families have operated businesses in Coney Island for more than six decades, sold the building that houses the Eldorado Auto Skooters and Arcade on Surf Avenue to Thor Equities. Their son Scott Fitlin was the DJ extraordinaire of Surf Avenue’s legendary disco palace of “Bump, Bump, Bump Your Ass Off” bumper cars and his untimely death at the age of 48 had left the attraction’s future in question. As it turned out, Gordon Lee who managed both the bumper cars and the arcade for the Fitlins after their son’s death, was able to negotiate a one-year lease with Thor and operated the business for the season. After a “Last Ride 2012 Party” on the eve of Hurricane Sandy, the Eldorado is expected to ride again this summer. The good news is Lee, who bought the equipment from the Fitlins last year, won a lease extension with reduced rent from Thor. The bad news is flooding from the storm soaked both the ride and the arcade, which will need costly repairs. Check out our original post to see the last music video shot at the Eldorado Auto Skooters just a few weeks before the storm.

New Boardwalk Section of Wood over Concrete

New Boardwalk Section of Wood over Concrete. February 20, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

9. “The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk,” March 9, 2012

When we wrote this post to alert readers to the twice-postponed hearing before the City’s Public Design Commission to decide the fate of the Coney Island Boardwalk, we naively believed that the PDC would conduct a fair hearing, despite the fact that quotes in a New York Times article indicated two of the Commissioners had been persuaded by Parks to support the plan in advance. At the previous hearing in October, they refused to approve the Parks Department’s plan and said that more environmental and engineering studies were needed to address the questions that they had. A few weeks after the hearing we wrote this follow-up post titled “The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues,” March 22, 2012:

Boardwalk Not Sidewalk

Sign on Building Facing Boardwalk East of Ocean Pkwy in Brighton Beach. Photo © Bruce Handy

The way the meeting was conducted made a mockery of democracy and public hearings. Only seven commissioners showed up and one –Alice Aycock– left early, kissing her colleagues goodbye in the middle of someone’s testimony. How does it happen that in a city of more than 8 million people, six people get to decide the fate of the Coney Island Boardwalk and appear to have decided in advance of the so-called public hearing?” A ten-foot-wide Concrete Lane for so-called “emergency vehicles” and an adjoining Plasticwalk were unanimously approved by the Commissioners for a pilot project in Brighton Beach. In December, Judge Martin Solomon, who self-importantly told the courtroom that he knew “more about the boardwalk than probably anybody here,” ruled that the Parks Department could go ahead with the plan without doing additional environmental studies requested by Boardwalk advocates in a lawsuit. If you count the judge, seven people got to decide the fate of the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Brooklyn Beach Shop

Brooklyn Beach Shop and Scream Zone, Coney Island Boardwalk. May 26, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

10. “Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times,” May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend in Coney Island saw the debut of new lights and signage as well as the return of some old favorites. Making their debut were the Coney Island Raceway Sign for Scream Zone’s Go Karts and the solar-powered lights on Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter opened their renovated stores on the Coney Island Boardwalk and brought back some of their hand-painted signs advertising clams and fried shrimp. The new look for the Boardwalk includes lighted custom signs replacing much of the vernacular signage of recent decades. One of the Boardwalk’s new stores, the Brooklyn Beach Shop, features a glass-fronted storefront with custom brickwork and a 6-foot-tall stone Steeplechase face. Lola Star’s fashionably skinny boutique on the Boardwalk is crowned with a dazzling sign of blinking white lights encircling a pink neon “Lola Star” designed by the shop’s eponymous owner.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

December 30, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Fave 11 Posts of 2011 – Part 1

December 27, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2011

January 1, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2010

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Eldorado Ticket Window with High Water Mark from Sandy, Coney Island. November 5, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

The good news is Eldorado Auto Skooter and Arcade operator Gordon Lee, who bought the equipment from the Fitlin family last year, won a one-year lease from building owner Thor Equities. The bad news is no sooner was the lease signed than Hurricane Sandy barreled through, flooding both the ride and the arcade. The waterlogged arcade machines are believed to be ruined, but will the famed bumper cars ride again? “I can’t make that decision until I have more information,” Gordon told ATZ. He’s hoping that someone with expertise in restoring bumper car rides will come forward to help. “These cars have always been very pampered. They’ve always been indoors. I’m totally lost here. Every car was submerged under water. Salt water is very corrosive to metal.”

After Sandy: Hosing Down the Eldorado Bumper Car Motors, Coney island. November 11, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

On Sunday, the Eldorado’s crew was still cleaning up. Louis was clad in a hazmat suit while Thomas wore a face mask. Some equipment had already been sent out to be tested by a mechanic. Also damaged in the flood was the ride’s polished floor, the awesome sound system and new merchandise emblazoned with the Eldorado’s “Bump Your Ass Off” slogan. Gordon had put a lot of time and money into upgrading the Eldorado at the beginning of the 2012 season. “I’ve done a lot,” he said. “It’s aggravating to have to start over.” When we saw Gordon at a meeting for business owners at Tom’s Restaurant last week, the first thing we asked was if he was going to rebuild. He said that he had a difficult decision ahead of him and made it clear that reinvesting was a big gamble. “What would you do if you had only a one-year lease?”

Our answer was that if was too costly to invest in new bumper cars for one year, we’d stay and build something simple. How about a roller rink, a movie house, or a Dunk the Clown game? Gordon agreed it was an option. Yesterday we checked in to see what he was thinking. “Right now I’m looking for information to try and rebuild the bumper cars. I’m taking it hour by hour,” said Gordon. He was taking his inspiration from Dennis Vourderis of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, who said that’s how they were handling the cleanup at their park. Not day by day, but hour by hour. Says Gordon: “Every hour I’ve got something to do.”

This music video was shot at the Eldorado Auto Skooters in September 2012 by The DoD3.com, an amusement ride enthusiast from New Jersey. “Man, they just don’t run bumper cars like that anymore!” he wrote in his trip report. “It was three bucks to re-ride but I passed; I had thoroughly bumped my ass off.”

UPDATE March 11, 2013:

Great news from Gordon Lee of the Eldorado. The bumper cars, which were completely refurbished over the past few months, are expected to open by Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday!

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

March 30, 2012: 60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado

October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

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Eldorado Bumper Cars

Louis Beard, Ticketseller at Eldorado Bumper Cars, Surf Avenue, Coney Island. July 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Actually we can’t remember precisely what Louis was saying when we snapped this humorous photo, but the Eldorado Auto Skooters and most of Coney Island’s other rides are still open weekends through the end of October. This week marks the second anniversary of the death of Scotty Fitlin, the DJ extraordinaire of Surf Avenue’s legendary disco palace of bumper cars, which is now run by arcade operator Gordon Lee.

Eldorado

Eldorado Auto Skooters.September 3, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Saturday, in addition to selling tickets to the famed “Bump Your Ass Off” ride, Louis will be reading Coney Island poetry into the mic at 4pm. The site-specific poetry event is part of Parachute: The Coney Island Performance Festival happening this weekend in front of the jellyfish tank at the New York Aquarium and amid the amusement park artifacts at the Coney Island History Project. The Eldorado’s last rides of 2012 — and possibly forever, though we hope not!–will be on October 26 and 27.

Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade, 1216 Surf Avenue, Coney Island. Phone 718- 946-6642

Eldorado Last Ride 2012

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 20, 2012: 60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado

October 17, 2010: Photo Album: Oct 15 Tribute in Sound & Light to Scott Fitlin

October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

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Rendering for 1218 Surf Ave, currently the Eldorado Bumper Cars, shows a new arcade and burger restaurant. Photo via Thor Equities Facebook Page

Long absent from social media channels, last week Thor Equities joined Facebook and Twitter. “Our FB page is up & running. We have begun featuring exclusive photos & descriptions of our properties. Take a look,” they tweeted. We did, and found that Thor “liked” Times Square, Central Park, a raft of real estate pages, and one that surprised us– Bikram Yoga — but has yet to “like” Coney Island or anybody in Brooklyn. Snub? Priorities? They’ll probably get around to it sooner or later.

Among the Brooklyn properties featured in Thor’s Facebook photo albums are two in Coney Island: The vacant new building at Surf and Stillwell Avenues and the Eldorado Building at 1218 Surf Avenue. Eldorado owners Sandy and Sheila Fitlin sold the building to Thor in March and the bumper cars and arcade are expected to close at the end of the season after a 40-year run.

Dennys and Eldorado

Thor Equities bought the Eldorado Building at 1218 Surf Avenue in March 2012. Its neighbor is Denny’s Ice Cream, owned by Coney Island USA. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When the Eldorado closes the Fitlins plan to take down the marquee and other signs, which were not part of the sale, they told ATZ. They hope to place the signage with a museum or collector. Knowing all of this did not lessen the shock and dismay of seeing Thor’s rendering for 1218 Surf with a “Joe’s Burgers” and generic arcade replacing the fabulous Eldorado Skooters facade and “Bump Your Ass Off” signage. If this is news to you, better run right over to the disco palace of bumper cars and bump, bump, bump for one last time this summer.

Along with the expected closure of McCullough’s Kiddie Park on the Bowery, whose lease with Thor ends this season, the closing of the Eldorado marks a critical point in the exit of independent amusement operators with a long history in Coney Island and the beginning of Thor’s “CONEY ISLAND – The RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME.” It started in 2007, with Thor’s eviction of Norman Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City and the Zipper and Spider rides documented in Amy Nicholson’s upcoming film “Zipper.” It continued with the loss of games in the shuttered Grashorn Building and the demolished Henderson Building. The caption for the Eldorado property calls it “an unbeatable retail opportunity.”

On Thor’s Facebook page, the captions on the two Coney properties got reversed and what’s more the new building at Surf and Stillwell is misidentified idiotically referred to as the “Henderson Building.” The century-old music hall was demolished by Thor in 2010 despite preservationists’ best efforts to save it. The doomed Henderson along with the old Shore Hotel were on a parcel rezoned by the City in July 2009 for a high rise hotel. “Every one of these buildings is just horrible, rundown relics with nothing exciting about them. I hate to say it, but the great buildings of Coney Island disappeared 80 years ago,” Sitt told NY1 before demolishing the buildings.

Ironically, Sitt’s first new construction after years of real estate speculation in Coney Island is a suburban looking one-story structure that looks like a car dealership. We certainly hope it’s a typo that Thor is calling this vacant, boarded-up new building the Henderson Building! Why not call it the Thor Building? The question is what are Joe Sitt’s plans for Coney Island’s newest building at Surf and Stillwell, and Coney’s oldest building– the Grashorn — at Surf and Jones Walk? ATZ tweeted that question to @ThorEquities. Awaiting a reply.

Thor

Rendering of Thor Equities Building at Surf and Stillwell, Coney Island via Thor Equities Facebook

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 20, 2012: 60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado

May 4, 2011: Thor Equities Touts Coney Island as “RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME”

December 27, 2010: Video: Tribute to the Henderson Theater by Charles Denson

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

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Last week, Sheila Buxbaum Fitlin and Sandy Fitlin, whose families have operated businesses in Coney Island for more than six decades, sold the building that houses the Eldorado Auto Skooters and Arcade at 1216-1218 Surf Avenue to Thor Equities. For months Coney Island insiders knew of the pending sale as well as the possibility that the bumper cars and arcade will open for one more season, in the same way that Astroland remained open the year after it was sold.

“We’re actively working on negotiations,” arcade operator Gordon Lee told ATZ on Monday. Lee’s company Sun Star is a longtime provider of arcade machines to Coney Island, including the Eldorado as well as the now-closed Astroland Arcade and Faber’s Fascination. Last season Lee managed both the bumper cars and the arcade for the Fitlins after the death of their son Scott in October 2010. The bumper cars have undergone pre-season maintenance and passed inspection and are ready to open on Coney Island’s opening day if an agreement can be reached with Thor Equities.

Fitlin

Sandy and Sheila Fitlin. April 17, 2011. Photo © Coney Island History Project. All Rights Reserved

Scott Fitlin was the DJ extraordinaire of Surf Avenue’s legendary disco palace of “Bump, Bump, Bump Your Ass Off” bumper cars and his untimely death at the age of 48 left the attraction’s future in question. His parents had retired to Texas and left the bumper cars in his care. It was a gift to Coney Island and a tribute to his memory that the Eldorado reopened last season. ATZ asked the Fitlins for a statement about the sale of the Eldorado and their years in Coney. Sheila Buxbaum Fitlin sent us the following note via email:

It is with deep regret that I sold Eldorado. Due to my advancing age, the fact that I live in Texas, and, of course, Scott’s death, I could no longer continue.

As one of the last of the “old timers,” I view a legacy in Coney Island that spanned three generations and lasted almost 60 years. I pay homage to those of us who shaped Coney Island–

The Buxbaum & Fitlin Family, Jerome & Carol Albert, Denos Vourderis, Freddy Garms, Norman Kaufman, Ronnie Guerrero, Jeff Persily and any I may have forgotten.

Eldorado established an entity that became a standard of the industry. The Bumping Disco was known worldwide, reproduced somewhat once in Japan, but never really successfully duplicated anywhere. Eldorado was one of the very first of the FECs. Today the concept is everywhere and much embellished upon. Many years ago we had plans to extend to other areas, but it never came to fruition. Unfortunately, we were never really recognized or acknowledged by “the new Coney Island.” Oh, what things the “old timers” could have taught the “johnny come latelys.”

I only wish that Scott had not died and the next generation could have persevered.

GOODBYE CONEY ISLAND, and most of all, goodbye to those I love.

Our friend Scott Fitlin told us about the history of the Eldorado in a March 2010 interview. It begins: “Eldorado was hand built by my grandfather Joseph Buxbaum, my Dad Sandy Fitlin, and my Uncle Peter Buxbaum, and a carpenter named Rafael. Opening date was March 21st 1973, admission was 50 cents and 25 cent re-rides. The FIRST record played was Cisco Kid-War!”

In a 2007 interview in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive, Sheila Buxbaum Fitlin recounts how her parents met in 1930s Coney Island when her mother was working in a frozen custard stand at Bowery and Stillwell and her father was selling hot corn next door to Nathan’s.

In the 1940s, the family opened the Shamrock Irish House, a restaurant, cabaret and open air bar with singing waiters on Henderson Walk and the Bowery. Customers would throw money onto the stage. “I can recall as a child–10, 11, 9–going there, getting a stage-side table and my father would give me a roll of dimes and set me up with my Coca Cola,” says Sheila in the interview with Charles Denson.

In the oral history interview, Sheila says the family switched over to games in the mid-1950s and had one of the first-ever water racing games. The Eldorado building was at one time the Pleasureland Arcade and was won by the Buxbaum and Fitlin families in a closed bid auction in 1971. The building is located mid-block on Surf Avenue between Denny’s Ice Cream and the Popper Building, a few doors down from Thor Equities property at the corner of Surf and Stillwell.

UPDATE March 20, 2012, 9:00 AM:

UPDATE April 12, 2012:

Good news! Gordon Lee of Coney’s Eldorado Bumper Cars phoned to say he’s operating the ride today & open for business! The arcade will also open this weekend for the season. Hours at the Eldorado are “12 noon till closing.”
Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade, 1216 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

Eldorado Bumper Car Crew. Photo © Tricia Vita/me/myself/i via flickr

Eldorado Bumper Car Crew. April 26, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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