Archive for June, 2011

Mermaid Avenue at West 28th Street, Coney Island. June 25, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

In Woody Guthrie’s delightful song about Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue, where he lived in the 1940s and ’50s, the songwriter says that he’d never seen a mermaid here. Neither have we. But at last night’s screening of “The Prince of Mermaid Avenue” at the South Brooklyn Youth Consortium at 2811 Mermaid, ATZ asked a couple of kids in the summer program if they were mermaids.

The avenue of neighborhood shops, churches and residences is just one block north of the Coney Island amusement area’s main drag, Surf Avenue. So close, yet a world away. At dusk we spotted this poster for “A Coney Good Time” at the bus stop at West 28th Street.

While there may not be any mermaids on Mermaid Avenue, there once was a prince: The documentary “The Prince of Mermaid Avenue” is about Jimmy Prince, who retired after 60 years at Mermaid Avenue’s Major Market. Charles Denson’s film is screening again today, June 30, at 2 pm at the Coney Island Library, 1901 Mermaid Avenue at West 18th Street.


Related posts on ATZ…

June 9. 2011: Photo of the Day: Mango Vendor in Coney Island

June 6, 2011: HBO’s Bored to Death Brings Susquehanna Hat Co. to Coney Island

May 3, 2011: Photo of the Day: Street Art by RAE in Coney Island

October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

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We’ve been a fan of Mangels’ Whip and Sellner’s Tilt-A-Whirl since our days as a carny kid, so naturally we’re excited about the debut of the MegaWhirl. Called the “MegaWhip” during its development phase, the new ride is said to combine the thrill of the Whip and the Tilt in a whole new way. MegaWhirl inventor Jonathan Gordon of Gordon Rides tells ATZ that the prototype is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of work.

The prototype designed by Gordon Rides and built by Larson International is set up on the factory floor at Larson’s headquarters in Plainview, Texas. A group of American Coaster Enthusiasts touring the new National Roller Coaster Museum adjacent to Larson were invited to try out the MegaWhirl and appear in the YouTube video shown above.

“I wanted to do this since I was a little kid. I spent summers as a ride mechanic at Rye Playland,” recalls Gordon, who 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. “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.”

Unlike the Whip, the cars of the MegaWhirl spin all the way around- 360 degrees – in a random curve pattern that could be mild or intense. The ride has a footprint of 50 feet by 50 feet and an hourly capacity of 480. The only criticism of the ride has been that it could be a little faster than 4 m.p.h. The designer says he is willing to customize the speed. “If someone wanted the prototype, we could have it up and running this summer,” says Gordon, though he thinks it’s more likely the ride will debut next season. Which amusement park will give the first MegaWhirl a home?

UPDATE May 1, 2012:

Two of four trucks carrying the prototype of the MegaWhirl arrived yesterday in Coney Island! See “MegaWhirl Ride Prototype to Debut in Coney Island” (ATZ, May 1, 2012)


Related posts on ATZ…

May 9, 2012: MegaWhirl Prototype Under Construction in Coney Island

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

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

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

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“One graphic that stopped me in my tracks was a Victorian view of Coney Island’s Astroland Park in its heyday with the sound of the Cyclone Roller Coaster pervading the soundtrack,” writes David Winograd in his review of “Alice in New York” for the iPad. It stopped us too: The Astroland Rocket has rejoined Papa Burger atop Paul’s roof. In the interactive drawing by Petra Kneile, one of 27 in the new e-book, the cars of the spinning Wonder Wheel go topsy turvy as the Red Queen and Alice fly through the air.

You can take a look at the animations in this video by the book’s co-creator Chris Stevens of Atomic Antelope. “Alice in New York” celebrates the 140th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.”


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June 19, 2011: Coney Island Summer Reading: The Wonder City

June 14, 2011: Coney Island Summer Reading: Dreamland Social Club

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

September 27, 2009: Coney Island 1969 by Edwin Torres: Fave Poem from Parachute Festival

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