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Posts Tagged ‘Zamperla’

Thunderbolt Roller Coaster

Teens gaze at billboard for Thunderbolt Roller Coaster set to open in Coney Island in May 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island has been home to dozens of roller coasters since the Switchback Railway debuted in 1884 but it’s been a long 87 years since one was custom built for the People’s Playground — the Cyclone in 1927. The fact that Coney has landed on a national list of “Top 5 New Coasters for 2014″ is cause for cheers of anticipation. At today’s groundbreaking for Zamperla’s new Thunderbolt steel coaster, slated to open in May in Luna Park, officials expressed high hopes for the 2014 season and the future of a reinvigorated Coney Island.

Mark Treyger, the neighborhood’s new City Councilman said “The Thunderbolt’s arrival is a major addition to the amusement district that will further stimulate and excite our local economy while providing enjoyment to thousands of Coney Island visitors.” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the coaster “promises to be an ‘electrifying’ boost to the local economy, all while delighting the young and young at heart.”

Thunderbolt Coney Island

Ground Breaking for Thunderbolt Roller Coaster, Luna Park Coney Island, March 10, 2014. Photo via Luna Park NYC Facebook

The 115-foot tall coaster will reach speeds of 55 miles per hour during a two minute ride that features a 90-degree vertical drop, a 100 foot vertical loop, an 80 foot zero-g roll, a 112 degree over-banked turn, a unique heartline dive, a corkscrew, and several airtime hills, according to the ride manufacturer.

The new $10 million dollar ride is named in honor of the 1925 Thunderbolt, which occupied an adjacent lot on the same block until it was controversially and illegally demolished in 2000 on the orders of Mayor Giuliani. The house under the roller coaster made famous by Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” was the real life home for 40 years of Mae Timpano. Thanks to the New York Times mention this morning of the new Thunderbolt lacking one feature–a house built beneath it–the obit of the last man who lived there is our top post of the day. Do you think the new Thunderbolt should have a house beneath it like the old one? Maybe an Airstream?

The Thunderbolt will be the third Zamperla coaster in Luna Park to be named after Coney Island attractions of the past. In 2010, their Wild Mouse-style spinning coaster was rechristened “The Tickler” in honor of an innovative 1906 thrill ride in the original Luna Park, after which the park is named. The next year, a Pony Express-themed Motocoaster in Scream Zone was dubbed the Steeplechase Coaster, after Steeplechase Park’s signature horse race ride.

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Related posts on ATZ…

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

April 28, 2010: New Coney Island Coaster Pays Homage to Luna Park’s 1906 Tickler

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Parachute Jump Lighting Tes

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

On Friday night in Coney Island, the landmark Parachute Jump will be lit with 8,000 LED lights. Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower will have enough bling to be visible from outer space, advance reports claim. The lighting was installed by Zamperla’s Central Amusements International, which operates Luna Park. Last night, the crowd on the Boardwalk was treated to a dazzling preview of the light show and Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy took this series of photos. “Parachute Jump vibrating to the beat of mermaid’s soul vibrations,” he said, in anticipation of Saturday’s Mermaid Parade.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Originally designed by a retired Naval commander to train military paratroopers in the 1930s, parachute towers were soon modified into amusement attractions when civilians clamored to ride. Coney Island’s Parachute Jump first wowed visitors at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Afterwards, the ride became the star attraction at Steeplechase, the world-famous amusement park that opened on Coney’s fabled shore in 1897.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Along with the pier, the Jump’s tower is the sole survivor of the park that once billed itself “Coney Island’s Only Funny Place, Where 25,000 People Laugh at One Time.” The city-owned landmark’s proximity to the Brooklyn Cyclones’ stadium gave it a new lease on life when the ballpark opened in 2001.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Summer officially arrives this weekend. Friday night’s lighting ceremony will be followed by Coney Island’s first fireworks show of the 2013 season and Saturday’s 31st Annual Mermaid Parade.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Related posts on ATZ…

June 4, 2013: Coney Island Fireworks 2013: Fridays, 6 Saturdays and More

May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

April 29, 2012: Photo of the Day: Space Shuttle Over Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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

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Surf's Up on the Boardwalk?

Surf’s Up on Coney Island Boardwalk, March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Surfboard parked on the Coney Island Boardwalk? Not exactly, it’s one of the signs that was about to go up on Zamperla’s new Place to BEach Bar (the capital “E” is a pun). The surfboard signage and other finishing touches, including tables and a deck, were being put in place this week at the new bar and Mexican grill on the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue.

Adjacent to Scream Zone, the location was formerly Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island, whose owners were evicted after the 2011 season. Valerio Ferrari, CEO of Zamperla, famously told the New York Times that he wanted something more “refined, cleaner. A little more year-round, if it’s possible, with sit-down restaurants and sports bars.” It’s happening. Last year, the facades of the remaining Boardwalk businesses got a sleek redo and Tom’s proved that a Boardwalk restaurant can stay open through the winter.

PTB Bar

New PTB Bar AKA Place to BEach Bar, Coney Island Boardwalk. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The new “Place to Be” was expected to open Easter weekend along with the Cyclone Cafe and food kiosks inside Luna Park. These venues will be operated by CAI Food LLC, the new food division of Zamperla’s Central Amusement International. An additional CAI restaurant will open in the B&B Carousel Pavilion at Steeplechase Plaza in May.

The opening of PTB Bar and the other CAI eateries marks the amusement park operator and ride manufacturer’s first foray into the food business in Coney Island. Until this season, food service giant Sodexo was Zamperla’s partner for “On Site Service Solutions.” The French multinational, the world’s 22nd largest employer, paid a rental fee to Zamperla. Sodexo kept such a low profile in Coney Island that the only sign we’ve ever seen with their name is the piece of paper at the bottom of this post. It was put up to direct trainees to their restaurant. Yet it was their staff who operated the Cyclone Cafe and the food kiosks since Luna Park opened in 2010.

Sodexo

Food display at Sodexo-operated Cyclone Cafe last summer, June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

At the time, Ferrari told ATZ that Sodexo was investing $1.4 million in a new sit-down restaurant, which was expected to be year-round and feature waiter service. As it turned out, the Cyclone Cafe was open the same hours as the park and its food offerings were what you’d expect from a corporation with a completely centralized purchasing system, which requires clients to choose from a list of “Right Products.” Sodexo is known for its cafeterias and individually branded restaurants at schools, hospitals, military bases and prisons, but nationally branded subtenants are also brought in under franchising or licensing agreements for the appearance of variety.

Sodexo’s departure had long been rumored and is something to cheer about. According to the partnership agreement, after 3 years either party was free to terminate the lease, with CAI having to reimburse the remaining value of Sodexo’s initial investment, with interest. A Sodexo manager who was working on site with cleanup after Sandy confirmed to ATZ that her company was leaving Coney Island.

Sodexo This Way

Sodexo This Way: Sign directing trainees to Sodexo restaurant in Luna Park, Coney Island. April 12, 2011. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

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Related Posts on ATZ…

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

March 11, 2013: Luna Park’s Pinwheels Go Up on Coney Island Boardwalk

August 29, 2012: Coney Island Has a New Lighthouse: It’s a Beach Bar

November 23, 2010: Meet Sodexo: Luna Park Coney Island’s Partner for “On-Site Service Solutions”

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