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Posts Tagged ‘Astroland’

Astrolands Bright and Shining Gate On Surf Avenue, September 7, 2008. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

Astroland's Bright and Shining Gate On Surf Avenue, September 7, 2008. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

One of the eight-foot by seven-and-a-half-foot lighted stars from Astroland’s Surf Avenue gate is in the National Air and Space Museum among other space-age icons, but the second one could be yours for Christmas. Along with pieces of Dante’s Inferno dark ride, the Bonanza shooting gallery, and a variety of signage, the star is among the last vestiges of the Coney Island amusement park being offered for sale. Mark Blumenthal, Astroland’s longtime operations manager, has overseen the sale of the rides since the park closed and was dismantled at the end of 2008. If you’re interested in acquiring an Astro artifact, you can email Blumenthal at astrolandmark[at]aol[dot]com.

Dante's Inferno demon

Dante’s Inferno demon on crane, Astroland Park in Coney Island- Photo © Tricia Vita. December 26, 2008.

“We’d like to sell the ride as a whole,” Blumenthal said of Dante’s, which consists of the giant demon’s head and torso from the façade, props, track and cars in storage trailers. “But if someone has a home for the pieces, we’d entertain the idea of selling them.” Dante’s Inferno was made by the Italian manufacturer Soli and brought to Astroland in 1971, according to a tribute on Laff in the Dark’s website. More than a dozen stunts created by Lou Nasti’s Brooklyn-based Mechanical Displays in the 1990s are also for sale.

At the Brooklyn Museum, the Cyclops head from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park’s Spook-A-Rama dark ride, which is going into its 66th year of operation in Coney, is on display as part of the exhibit Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland. Can Dante’s demon make a similar transition from the amusement park midway to the art world? Or what about bringing it home to Coney and exercising a little creative reuse?

Also being offered for sale is the old-timey Bonanza shooting gallery, where you could shoot the piano player. You may recall it was located on the Surf Avenue side of the park next to Gregory & Paul’s. Manufactured by Taylor Engineering, Bonanza shooting galleries first debuted in 1958 and this one was brought to Coney Island by Gregory in the mid-’70s.

“It was redone a couple of years before we closed,” says Blumenthal. “It’s the old technology,” referring to the fact that vintage Bonanza galleries used photocell sensors activated by a bright light source, usually from the rifles. That’s why there were multiple signs saying “No Photography” and why we have no photos. You can catch a glimpse of it in the following video. Refurbished galleries such as “The World’s Largest Bonanza Gallery.” currently on the fair circuit, use an infrared beam of light instead of flashing light.

As we noted in a post in 2013, Astroland’s rides have found homes in Costa Rica, South America, Australia, New Jersey and Brooklyn. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park brought back the Barbieri Bumper Cars and Scrambler, and together with the Coney Island History Project, the 1960’s Astroland Rocket, which once perched on Gregory & Paul’s rooftop as an advertisement.

Signage from Astroland’s Surf and Boardwalk entrances to the park, as well as the arcade are also for sale.”I miss it, but a lot of us miss it,” Blumenthal says of Astroland. “Now it’s part of history.”

Astroland arcade sign

Astroland arcade sign. Photo © Tricia Vita. July 25, 2008

Related posts on ATZ…

June 4, 2014: Astroland Rocket Finds New Home Beside the Wonder Wheel

July 17, 2013: Astroland Rides Find Homes in Brooklyn, Costa Rica and Australia

March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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Power Surge

Power Surge returns to Coney Island opened for business on Memorial Day Weekend. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Zamperla’s Power Surge, one of the ride manufacturer’s signature rides, opened at Coney Island’s Luna Park over Memorial Day Weekend. The big surprise is that we’re told it’s the very same ride that debuted in Astroland in 2001! As ATZ previously reported, when the Power Surge first came to Coney’s Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001, its photo was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. The ride remained in Astroland until 2006 when it was sold to Australia. Zamperla bought it back and refurbished it.

Located in Luna Park’s Scream Zone against the back wall of the Boardwalk Nathan’s, the scream machine was awhirl for most of the weekend. The Power Surge is not the only Astroland ride to come home to Coney Island. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park brought back and refurbished Astroland’s Scrambler and Barbieri Bumper Cars, and together with the Coney Island History Project, the historic 1962 Astroland Rocket.

Arcade

Over Memorial Day Weekend, Arcade Replaces Rainbow Shop in Thor Equities Building. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Friday we were delighted to find out that Coney Island has one less chain store and one more arcade. Rainbow Shops, a retail chain featuring discount clothing and shoes, will NOT be returning for a third season to Thor Equities retail building in Coney. Gordon Lee of Eldorado Arcade has moved arcade machines into the 2,500 square foot space, which still has the word Rainbow over its door.

It’s surprising news because until last July, Thor’s retail building flaunted two ARCADE signs but no arcades, despite the fact that 15% of amusement frontage was required by zoning regulations to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy from the City. For a long time, it was one of our pet peeves. ATZ wrote about this sham here and again here. Now the two mini-arcades, the minimum required by Bloomberg’s rezoning of Coney Island for this building, have an actual arcade to keep them company.

mini arcade

One of two mini arcades installed in July 2014 at Thor Equities retail building at Surf and Stillwell. May 27, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

We’re sad to report that Coney Island USA’s 1940s Shooting Gallery at 1214 Surf Avenue has been closed. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the nonprofit arts organization is offering the 3,500 square foot Shooting Gallery Arts Annex building for lease at $50 square foot or approximately $175,000 per year. “When a lease is signed we will return it to Deno’s,” Coney Island USA’s Dick Zigun told ATZ. “Until then it might reopen if we can afford machine gun maintenance.”

Made in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the vintage shooting gallery is the only publicly operating one of its kind that we’re aware of. The gallery restored by Coney Island USA in 2013 is on loan from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, where it had operated for decades next to Spook-A-Rama and was uncovered during post-Sandy renovations.

Mangels Shooting Gallery

1940s Mangels Shooting Gallery, Coney Island USA. August 3, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers who sell the targets individually. It brought an authentic, old-timey ambiance to Surf Avenue that will be missed.

CIUSA bought Denny’s ice cream shop and building next door to their headquarters in 2012 for $1.3 million. Unfortunately, Denny’s was one of the first casualties of Superstorm Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area. The building had to be gutted and at first there was talk of replacing the ruined ice cream machines with a paintball game, mini-golf or a roller rink. What will it house next?

When Coney Island USA bought the building, Dick Zigun told ATZ: “Some day we can transfer air rights from the landmark Childs Building, match the two-story front of Childs then do a setback with an additional five to seven story tower on top of the base,” Zigun noted. The renderings that he showed at a Coney Island presentation at the AIA included a whimsical homage to the Elephant Hotel.

Shooting Gallery

Shooting Gallery building at 1214 Surf Avenue. May 26, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Power Surge

Newly arrived Zamperla Power Surge at Luna Park’s Scream Zone. May 16, 2015. Photo © Magicalthemeparks

A new thrill ride has arrived in Coney Island in time to be awhirl for Memorial Day Weekend! Central Amusement International, the park division of ride manufacturer Zamperla, has brought in a new Power Surge. It is being set up this week on West 12th Street behind Nathan’s in Luna Park’s Scream Zone, adjacent to their Steeplechase coaster.

The ride is no stranger to Coney Island. As ATZ reported previously, Zamp’s Power Surge came to Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001. A press release said it was drawing people into the park like a magnet and put on a great show. A photo of the ride was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. “After decades of decay, the weirdly wonderful Coney Island is poised for a comeback” was the intro to the cover story “Fantasy Island.”

Power Surge Astroland

Zamperla’s Power Surge which debuted in 1999, opened in Astroland in 2001. Photo © The Astroland Archive.

The Power Surge made its debut in 1999 and is considered one of Zamperla’s signature rides. “Up to twenty-four riders at a time flip, twist, and spin through two motor driven rotations, and a third gravity driven rotation, guaranteed to deliver a different ride experience each and every time,” according to the ride manufacturer’s catalogue.

Scream Zone

Site prep at future home of Power Surge in Luna Park’s Scream Zone. May 10, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Power Surge Astroland

Zamperla’s Power Surge which debuted in 1999, opened in Astroland in 2001. Photo © The Astroland Archive.

It’s going to be a retro season on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Though not yet officially announced, two rides set to debut in Luna Park’s Scream Zone were once among the must-rides in Astroland Park. Central Amusement International, the park division of ride manufacturer Zamperla, is bringing in a new Power Surge as well as what is believed to be a remake of the classic Enterprise called the Endeavor. The Power Surge will be on West 12th Street adjacent to the Steeplechase coaster while the Endeavor will replace the Boardwalk Flight Sky Coaster.

When Zamp’s Power Surge came to Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001, a press release said it was drawing people into the park like a magnet and put on a great show. A photo of the ride was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. “After decades of decay, the weirdly wonderful Coney Island is poised for a comeback” was the intro to the cover story “Fantasy Island.” The Power Surge made its debut in 1999 and remains among the ride manufacturer’s most popular rides.

The Enterprise, which first came out in 1972, was named after the Star Trek Starship. Manufactured by Huss, the spinning thrill ride was a fave at Astroland from the 1970s until the early 2000’s when it was sold to New Jersey’s Casino Pier. Lake Compounce, Dorney Park and Strates Shows are among the owners of the 20 or so Enterprises operating in the U.S. today.

Enterprise at State Fair Meadowlands

Strates Shows’ Enterprise at State Fair Meadowlands 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

It’s fun to go back and read what ride aficionados had to say about the full-tilt action of Astroland’s Power Surge and Enterprise.

“This is yet another example of a ride that really benefits from the demonic ride ops of Coney Island,” wrote Steve NY of the Power Surge in Theme Park Critic in 2008. “Most times I come off a Power Surge completely disappointed because the ride just seems so tame while on it; whereas on the ground it looks incredibly intense. However, as I said earlier, Coney Island dished out a ride cycle that lasted over 3 minutes consistently, easily double that experienced on other Power Surges.”

Here’s a video of a Zamperla Power Surge at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Show in 2013:

Last June at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Fair, ATZ snapped photos of Strates Shows’ Enterprise. It is mesmerizing to watch and an intense thrill to ride. Jersey amusement ride blogger The DoD3, who has ridden both the Strates’ and Astroland Enterprises, had this to say in his review of the ride:

Once secured, the wheel begins to spin until it hits warp speed. Once riders are nice an plastered to the seat, the arm holding the wheel begins to rise up to 87 degrees (basically vertical.) Most Enterprise rides will keep the wheel vertical for less than a minute, however I’ve seen some go for longer. Strates’ Enterprise goes for at least a minute and a half. Astroland’s old Enterprise went for three plus minutes!

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Astroland sign from Neptune's Flume

Astroland sign from Neptune’s Flume. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

This set of photos was taken five years ago– January 31, 2009–on Astroland’s very last day. It was as bitter cold as it is today. In the months after the park closed in September 2008, the rides and games were dismantled and trucked away. According to the terms of Astroland’s lease extension with Thor Equities, the property had to vacated by February 1st. Amusing the Zillion did not debut until April 2009, but we posted these pix along with our thoughts on flickr:

I expected my Jan 28th visit to Astroland to be my last visit (see set). But I had some business in the area so I stopped by Astroland on Jan 31. By then there wasn’t much left and I didn’t have the heart to take more than a half dozen or so photos. Jan 31 was Astroland’s very last day, the day the lease expired and the property had to be vacated.

On Feb 1, 2009, the Astroland property became the former site of Astroland Park. Since then I refer to it as Thorland after Thor Equities. Others call it Sittville or Sittland East after Thor CEO Joe Sitt. The predatory real estate speculator who owns the 3-acre site is pressuring the city to allow for time-share high rises and shopping mall style retail. Astroland, and now the Boardwalk businesses threatened by huge Thor Space for Lease signs, are pawns or hostages in Thor’s high stakes game with the City. The City’s controversial rezoning of the C-7 amusement district is currently underway.

Abandoned old arcade machines

Abandoned old arcade machines on last day of Astroland. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the items that remained and were about to be thrown into a dumpster were these broken old arcade machines. Boxing machines manufactured by Zamperla! Ironically, the parks division of Zamperla would build Luna Park on the former Astroland site in 2010, after this lot and other boardwalk property was bought by the City from Thor Equities for $95.6 million.

Astroland's American flag

Rescuing Astroland’s American flag – where will she wave? January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Jeff rescues Astroland’s American flag, which flew from the Astrotower, from soon to be Thorland. Astroland’s signs and rides are safe in storage. NOT sold to Australia or anywhere else, not yet! Perhaps the reconfigured “Astroland,” signs and all, will be able to return to a new location or its old location (if Sitt sells to the city) in Coney Island? That would be a “long shot” (Astroland owner’s words in the press). But I don’t think we should give up hope completely if the owner still has hope. Some of Astroland’s historic signs were rescued today by the Coney Island History Project.

Astroland signage

Rescuing signage from Astroland’s water flume. January 21, 2009

Home of the hot dog? This building has been used as a workshop for the last forty-some years. Astroland workers swept up for the last time on Jan 31, 2009 before vacating the property. I took these photos for my friend “Coney Islander.” who says the tiles are not only Coney Island history, but American history too. He wanted a tile as a keepsake, but we couldn’t find a loose one.

tile floor in the old Feltman's Kitchen

Home of the hot dog? The tile floor in the old Feltman’s Kitchen Bldg was swept on Astroland’s last day. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Of course “the first hot dog” was invented when Feltman was pushing a pie wagon in the 1860s. But the building is all that remains of Feltman’s empire in Coney Island. The floor definitely has character. It has a story to tell. We just have to figure out what it is. Sometimes if the true story isn’t known, an apochryphal one fills the vacuum. The floor looks so old it’s easy to imagine the original hot dog falling on it. It may be doubtful as history goes, but captures the imagination.

The story unfolded a year later, when the building was being demolished to make way for Luna Park: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition, (ATZ, January 19, 2010)

Tile floor in Feltman's Kitchen, Coney Island

Tile floor swept clean in historic Feltman’s kitchen on Astroland property. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

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July 17, 2013: Astroland Rides Find Homes in Brooklyn, Costa Rica and Australia

March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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

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Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park Scrambler

Astroland Scrambler Back Home in Coney Island at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

With only 2 months and 9 days till Coney Island’s official opening day on Palm Sunday — March 29, 2015 — new rides are starting to arrive at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. This year, park co-owner Dennis Vourderis says they are bringing back the popular Scrambler and adding three new family rides, including a Twist and Shout Drop Tower to Deno’s Kiddie Park. The other two new family rides slated for the kiddie park are to be announced.

Remember Astroland’s Scrambler? It’s back at home in Coney Island at Deno’s! The Scrambler will be located between the Wonder Wheel and the Barbieri Bumper Cars, which also hail from Astroland and were refurbished and returned in 2012. With 24 cars and a huge floor, it’s the largest bumper car ride in Coney. The historic 1962 Astroland Rocket was in that spot last year and has been moved across the midway.

The new drop tower, which adults and children can ride together, is set for the corner spot on the Boardwalk at West 12th Street. Nick, Deno and Dennis Vourderis went for a test ride at the IAAPA trade show in Orlando in November. “Adults can ride this one too! Yayyyyy!!!! Ordered ours with different theming and colors,” said a post on the park’s Facebook page.

Drop Tower Wonder Wheel Park

Nick, Deno and Dennis Vourderis testing new drop tower at IAAPA in Orlando. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

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March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

December 28, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney’s Parachute Jump & Wonder Wheel Lit for Holidays

June 4, 2014: Astroland Rocket Finds New Home Beside the Wonder Wheel

February 28, 2014: Photo Album: Wonder Wheel Park Preps for Coney Island’s Opening Day

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In 1970, a German tourist on his first trip to New York shot this Super 8 film in Coney Island. It offers a tantalizing glimpse of the Bowery’s original arcade architecture, since destroyed by fires, and the Playland Arcade on the Boardwalk, where Nathan’s is now. You’ll also see Astroland’s Skyride and Astrotower as well as Ward’s Fairyland Park-now Deno’s Kiddie Park. Only the Wonder Wheel, which is emblazoned with a banner saying “Our 50th Year,” and the Cyclone roller coaster, look the same today. Just wish the film was longer!

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