Archive for June, 2012

Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra

Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra, Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2012. Photo © East Coast Images. All Rights Reserved

With temps in the mid-90s, today is a perfect beach day. If you haven’t taken a dip in the ocean yet at Coney Island’s Beach, what are you waiting for? The City’s Parks Department officially opened Coney’s beach for the season on Memorial Day Weekend, but the ceremonial Opening of the Ocean took place at last Saturday’s Mermaid Parade. In this photo by East Coast Images, Queen Mermaid and Brooklyn-born actress Annabella Sciorra uses a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon representing the seasons. More East Coast Images of the 30th Annual Mermaid here.


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Coney Island Zip LineThis summer in Coney Island may be remembered as the year people harnessed up and took flight over the upturned heads of astonished visitors. Scream Zone’s 110-foot-tall SkyCoaster, which debuted in May as “Boardwalk Flight,” has riders soaring out over the Boardwalk. Next month, Patrick Ingram of Category 5 Ziplines plans to install a 60-foot-high, 400-foot-long zip line in Coney Island that will let riders glide in the sky over Stillwell Avenue.

“I’m a skydiver who has taught people how to skydive without jumping out of airplanes,” says Ingram, owner of Michigan-based Category 5 Productions. “I started with wind tunnels twelve years ago. It evolved into zip lines over the past three years.” Coney Island Zip Line is expected to open July 21st with four stationary zip lines.

Ingram tells ATZ that the starting point will be just beyond the new MegaWhirl ride in Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park on the east side of Stillwell. The zip line will traverse Stillwell Avenue, with its ending point being on the other side of the BK Festival’s vendors behind Nathan’s Famous! “It’s a little longer than your typical zip line, which is 200 to 300 feet,” he says. The ride itself is about 25 seconds but the entire experience from the time the rider gets into the harness is 15 to 20 minutes.

Ingram says that he has installed and operated zip lines at college events as well as last year’s Oshkosh Air Show. In addition to Coney Island, Category 5 Ziplines are planned for Miami and Alabama’s Gulf Shore this year. An ad on New York’s Craigslist is seeking a crew of eight to ten to help operate the Coney Island Zip Line. Says Ingram, “We expect to be there in the next couple of weeks, putting the rigging together and getting the staff trained.”

Coney Island Zip Line

Originally planned to open on July 1, the zip line’s debut has been rescheduled for July 21 due to paperwork delays. “It’s taken a bit longer than we thought to get the engineering drawings required for this project,” says Ingram, who adds that everyone he’s working with in New York City is excited about the zip line.

An introductory special on Pinchit offering 50 per cent off regular prices expires today, but he plans to offer similar deals via Living Social and Groupon. The regular price will be $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends, with a $100 All-Day Zip Pass including an express line. Customers must weigh between 85 and 230 pounds, wear closed toe shoes and sign a waiver.

UPDATE September 14, 2012

The abandoned zipline was finally dismantled and trucked away in May of 2013! Exclusive: Coney Island Zip Line to Be Dismantled Today (ATZ, April 30, 2013)

UPDATE September 14, 2012

Long-Delayed Coney Island Zipline Is Officially Open!
PS: Please read this post and news updates in comments before coming out to ride!

UPDATE August 5, 2012

Coney Island Zip Line Still Under Construction, ATZ, August 5, 2012.

UPDATE July 31, 2012

The zip line is currently being assembled by a crew of about 17 or 18 people! It is being set up behind Nathan’s and runs from the Bowery and Stillwell Avenue to West 15th Street.

UPDATE July 22, 2012

BK Festival spokesman William McCarthy responded to an email query that we sent today: “Working on permits – I will give you positive update as soon as we get through process.”

UPDATE July 21, 2012

The zip line was nowhere to be found today. It wasn’t set up in Coney Island. Rumor on the street is it won’t be opening, but we can’t confirm it. The person who was set to be the on-site manager of the operation did not return calls for comment.

UPDATE July 15, 2012

On Saturday in Coney Island flyers along Stillwell Avenue advertised interviews for jobs working the zip line. Mark Zientek, operations manager at Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park, told ATZ that the zip line is expected to arrive in Coney Island on Wednesday. He said the zip line will be located on the west side of Stillwell Avenue in the BK Festival lot behind Nathan’s. It will not traverse Stillwell Avenue as originally planned by the operator.


Related posts on ATZ…

August 19, 2012: BK Festival Vendors Back in Business, Coney Zipline Isn’t

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

February 24, 2012: Summer Jobs: From Coney Island to the Carnival Midway

April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!

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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 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.


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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