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Posts Tagged ‘MegaWhirl’

MegaWhirl in Coney Island

MegaWhirl Ride on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. November 11, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

The MegaWhirl, a prototype that came all the way from a Texas ride factory to debut in Coney Island, will be scrapped if a new home is not found for it soon. MegaWhirl inventor Jonathan Gordon of Gordon Rides contacted ATZ with the sad news: “Just thought you should know, I’ve been working on trying to relocate the MegaWhirl, but the damage from the storm surge has made it almost impossible. If I can’t find anyone to take the ride by the end of next week, the MegaWhirl will be demolished as per the demands of Thor Equities.” For Gordon, who signed his email, “(former) CEO/Lead Designer, GordonRides LLC,” Hurricane Sandy capped off a Coney Island season that had already been a financial disaster and bankrupted his business.

MegaWhirl Ride in Coney Island

MegaWhirl Ride on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. November 11, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

If you’d like the ride, which is said to combine the thrill of the Whip and the Tilt-A-Whirl, you’ll need a crane to disassemble it and four trucks to take it away. The MegaWhirl is on Thor Equities’ Stillwell Avenue lot leased to the BK Festival promoters for Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park. There were problems at the new park from the get-go. Originally set to open on Memorial Day Weekend, the park was not able to open till four weeks later. Filing of paperwork with City agencies and bureaucratic red tape was blamed for the delay. City permitting issues relating to fencing closed the park intermittently and irregular hours had some visitors asking if and when it was open.

When the park closed after Labor Day, the rest of the rides and equipment were moved from the property. Only the MegaWhirl, Ray’s Basketball trailer and the Zipline still remain on the BK Festival lots, which are now being used by insurance companies as a temporary parking lot for the many cars from the neighborhood totaled by Hurricane Sandy. Tow trucks come in and out all day.

“Thank you for all of your help and support,” Gordon writes. “I’m looking forward to closing this awful chapter of my life and moving on to other things.” Here’s a promo video made in happier days of a group of American Coaster Enthusiasts going for a test spin at ride manufacturer Larson International’s factory in Texas.

Gordon grew up in Westchester County and went to Playland Park as a boy, where he rode the Whip and other classics. “That influenced me quite a bit,” he told ATZ last year, when we first wrote about the ride (“New Ride: The Whip + Tilt-A-Whirl = MegaWhirl,” ATZ, June 28, 2011). “The rides were beloved and they’re just not around anymore.” Gordon also worked in the superintendent’s office at Playland before going to engineering school and blazing his own trail as an independent ride designer. He holds numerous patents in roller coaster and ride design, including one on a “multi-track multi-vehicle interactive roller coaster.”

 

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 13, 2012: Coney Island’s Eldorado Wins Lease But Bumper Cars Soaked by Sandy

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

May 1, 2012: MegaWhirl Ride Prototype to Debut in Coney Island

April 19, 2012: Rides Return to Thor’s Stillwell Lots for 1st Time Since 2008

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Club Atlantis

Cha Cha’s new outdoor Club Atlantis Bar, Coney Island. June 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Over the first weekend of summer, a few more Coney Island businesses opened their doors. As we reported on Saturday, Grimaldi’s new pizzeria on the north side of Surf Avenue served its first pies in Coney Island on Mermaid Day.  Across the street, Luna Park’s new state-of-the-art arcade, which takes only Luna cards–no spare change, please!– opened in the former Astroland Arcade. The surprise of surprises was to see Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park open for business after a four week delay. The Coney Island Rumor Mill had been speculating that the park, which was scheduled to open on Memorial Day Weekend, would never open. The Rumor Mill was wrong.

MegaWhirl

MegaWhirl Cars in Coney Island. May 6, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Jonathan Gordon, the designer of the MegaWhirl, a prototype ride that is the centerpiece of Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park, told ATZ that the delay in opening the park had nothing whatsoever to do with the rides. It was a matter of filing of paperwork with City agencies and bureaucratic red tape that kept the park from opening until now.

Friday’s ride inspection by the City’s ride inspector was cut short by a torrential rainstorm, but they received a checklist of what needed to be done, Gordon said. The inspection resumed on Saturday afternoon after the Mermaid Parade. The MegaWhirl and the majority of the other rides, including a Scrambler, Himalaya and Bumper Cars, passed inspection on Saturday and opened on Sunday. Only the Cobra and one of the kiddie rides need additional work before they’re ready to open.

Cobra Ride

Cobra Ride, Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park. June 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The cost of a single ride on the MegaWhirl is $5, according to Gordon. In early May, the ride designer and the manufacturer Larson International brought the MegaWhirl from the factory floor in Texas to make its world debut in Coney Island. As previously reported, the ride combines the thrill of the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Whip. The new ride’s arrival is another promising sign of Coney Island’s revival. Back in the day, the first models of new park or carnival rides would make their debut here.

The opening of Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park marks the return of rides to Thor Equities’ Stillwell Avenue lots for the first time since July 2008. Amusements existed here for more than 100 years until Joe Sitt bought the property and booted longtime ride and game operators in 2006. The Thor-owned Stillwell sites were used for a carnival in 2008, a flea market in 2009 and 2011, and remained vacant in 2010.

Mozzarepa and other street fair food at Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park, June 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Saturday, the flea vendors of the BK Festival on the west side of Thor Equities’ Stillwell lot were once again doing business. On the east side of Stillwell, Cha Cha’s new outdoor Club Atlantis Bar was serving customers. Adjacent to Wonder Wheel Way and Scream Zone, the bar has a lot of space for table seating. It combines elements of Cha Cha’s former Club Atlantis on the Boardwalk with Beer Island minus the sand — for now.

Also open were a variety of food stands of the type one finds at street fairs. The food looked appetizing and less pricey than similar fare at Nathan’s. After seeing a friend enjoying a chicken shish-kebob, we tried one for $5 and would eat there again. Oddly enough, shish-kebob has been eliminated from the menus of the Boardwalk eateries Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar. The only other places you can get it in Coney Island are Gyro Corner, which has a location on the Bowery, and Pete’s Clam Stop on Surf.

Basketball Game

Ray’s Basketball Game, Coney Island. May 28, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sadly, two Coney Island veterans previously displaced by redevelopment will not be able to open their businesses anytime soon. Ray’s Basketball, which is on the Steeplechase lot facing the Bowery, and Steve’s Grill House, currently on Thor’s 12th Street lot, got new locations that have literally left them up against a fence. The original plans for the new Steeplechase park and two satellite locations on Surf Avenue called for opening the fencing during business hours. It turns out that city regulations will not permit it.

Steve Bitetzakis’ Grill House has lost its location twice in the past year. On the Coney Island Boardwalk since 1993, Steve’s was one of the “Coney Island 8″ evicted by Zamperla. In February he sold his modular building to Zamperla, which is remodeling it and the former Beer Island to create the Place To Beach Bar. After purchasing a concession trailer, Steve’s opened for Easter on Thor Equities’ Stillwell East lot leased to the BK Festival. He lost his spot and was relocated to Surf when the festival closed to make way for the new Steeplechase Park.

Ray’s Basketball, which was moved from the Coney Island Arcade lot, is not on wheels and would require a crane to pick it up and turn it around 180 degrees. Anybody want to help these guys out?

Steve's Grill House

Up Against the Fence: Steve’s Grill House. June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

UPDATE June 30, 2012

Ray's Basketball Coney IslandYay for Ray! His basketball game is no longer “fenced off” and will be able to do biz on 4th of July. Ray finally managed to open on Friday, June 29, for the first time this season after the chain link fence next to his awning was opened. Note the portable fencing placed in front of the basketball game, probably as per the letter of the law. Steve’s Grill House and the West 12th Street lot remain closed.

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Related posts on ATZ…

June 15, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Guide to Free Summer Events in Coney Island

May 17, 2012: Coney Island’s Cha Cha Puts His Name on Steeplechase

May 1, 2012: MegaWhirl Ride Prototype to Debut in Coney Island

April 19, 2012: Rides Return to Thor’s Stillwell Lots for 1st Time Since 2008

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MegaWhirl

Test Spin on the MegaWhirl, Coney Island. May 10, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

Last week ATZ posted photos of the MegaWhirl ride, a prototype from Gordon Rides and Larson International, being assembled on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. It was only a matter of time before somebody went for the ride’s first spin outside of the factory floor. Coney photographer Eric Kowalsky sent us these photos of workers assembling the MegaWhirl going for a test spin.

We’ve already written quite a bit about the MegaWhirl, a new ride described as combining the thrill of the Whip and the Tilt-A-Whirl, and look forward to going for our first spin! The ride is expected to debut at the BK Festival’s new Steeplechase Park in Coney Island on Memorial Day Weekend.

Test Spin on the MegaWhirl, Coney Island. May 10, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

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Related posts on ATZ…

May 1, 2012: MegaWhirl Ride Prototype to Debut in Coney Island

April 19, 2012: Rides Return to Thor’s Stillwell Lots for 1st Time Since 2008

March 5, 2012: Exclusive: Goodbye Flea Market, Hello “Steeplechase Park”

June 28, 2011: New Ride: The Whip + Tilt-A-Whirl = MegaWhirl

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