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Posts Tagged ‘Big Mark’s Action Park’

Promenading at Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: Promenading at Midland Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

Staten Island’s east shore, once home to amusement parks with roller coasters, Ferris wheels and carousels, could be awhirl with seasonal rides again as early as this summer. A Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the Staten Island Beachfronts by the City mentions amusement rides at Midland Beach as well as carnivals, rides and stall-based amusements among over 30 suggested uses at 8 different sites. Respondents are encouraged to submit proposals for these ideas as well as others that they believe are suitable but not mentioned in the RFEI.

Big Mark’s Action Park and NY Carousel Entertainment LLC were among the amusement park operators eyeing the property in recent site visits held by the City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Parks Department. Proposals are due on Tuesday and some of the ideas are expected to be activated in summer 2014.

Midland Beach Site Opportunity Diagram

Carousel and Kiddie Rides in Midland Beach Opportunity Site Diagram, Staten Island Beachfronts RFEI, December 13, 2013. NYCEDC

Six concrete pads for future amusement rides with electrical utilities already installed are mentioned in the Midland Beach Site Opportunity section of the RFEI. The diagram above shows the pads occupied by a carousel, magic castle, sky glider, mini airport and spinning teacups circled by a trackless train, though these are just examples. There’s also a pad for a concession building with attached public restrooms, which are under construction.

Staten Island site visit attendee Mark Zientek of Big Mark’s Action Park says, “We put together some ideas we’re really excited about. We think the beachfronts offer a lot of promise.” Zientek is the owner of a long-established amusement rental and special events production company whose clients include AT&T, HBO, and Turner Construction. He’s also chairman of ROAR (Responsible Operators of Amusement Rentals) and a NAARSO (National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials) certified maintenance technician. Big Mark’s proposal is a two-phase plan, with an initial emphasis on participatory attractions for children like Little Mark’s climbing wall and slide, and a mechanically operated ride that lets the riders control the speed of the spin. A zip line and other action-oriented attractions are part of phase two.

Great Roller Boller Coaster

Vintage Postcard: Great Roller Boller Coaster Amusement Co., South Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

Also attending the site visit were David Galst and Ami Abramson of NY Carousel Entertainment LLC, which operates two historic Queens carousels for the Parks Department in Flushing Meadows and Forest Park. Last year, the company added a mini-amusement park at Flushing Meadows including Queens’ one and only roller coaster, a family ride called the Corona Cobra. Could a coaster for Staten Island be next? Galst and Abramson are also managing directors with Ride Entertainment Group, which not only operates carousels but also installs coasters and other high thrill rides. Past projects include the 110-foot-high SkyCoaster at Luna Park’s Scream Zone in Coney Island and Gerstlauer’s new FireChaser Express at Dollywood, the first dual-launch family coaster in the U.S.

One of the questions from a respondent in the RFEI’s Q & A about zoning restrictions as to height partly answers whether a SkyCoaster or similarly tall ride would fly on Staten Island’s beachfront. The answer: “NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) structures are not subject to zoning restrictions. Structure heights are subject to the NYC Parks Commissioner’s discretion. The construction of new structures will not be permitted at the Miller Field Opportunity Site.” NY Carousel Entertainment did not reply to ATZ’s request for comment on their proposal for the Staten Island beachfront.

The Whip at Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: Everybody Rides the The Whip at Midland Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

According to the NYCEDC, the primary purpose of the RFEI is to generate ideas to enhance and re-invigorate Staten Island’s public beachfronts and open spaces after Superstorm Sandy. Proposals may consider one or more of eight locations, for temporary, seasonal, and/or permanent activations for early summer 2014 as well as long-term projects. In addition to small-scale amusements, suggested project concepts include food trucks, vending machines, beer gardens, cafes, skate parks, surf schools, skating rinks, mini golf, driving ranges, batting cages, recreational and beach equipment rental, educational programming, public art activations, festivals, performances and markets.

South Beach was once home to Happyland Amusement Park (1906-1935) and other independently owned amusements. In 1955, a project to extend the Boardwalk and provide parking and playing fields led to New York City’s condemnation of properties where rides, eateries and other amusements had been for decades. Beachland Amusements (1941-2006) survived by moving inland. Midland Beach, just south of South Beach, had hotels, beer gardens, bathing pavilions, theaters, carousels, Ferris wheels and amusements. Vintage postcards in the New York Public Library show a variety of entertainments, including trapeze performances on the boardwalk and a boxing exhibition by the world-famous Rossow Midgets.

UPDATE June 25, 2014

Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Midland Beach opened on June 28th with four rides: Tea Cups, Train, Frog Hopper and a mini-roller coaster christened the Verrazano Viper. Fantasy Shore is run by NY Carousel Entertainment, which also operates Fantasy Forest Amusement Park at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.

UPDATE March 17, 2014

The Parks Department has issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for the development and operation of a Children’s Amusement Park as well as the operation of mobile food units and souvenir carts in Midland Beach, with a 12-year term. A site tour is set for March 28, with a due date for proposals of April 16th.

The Rossow Midgets

The Rossow Midgets, Midland Beach, Staten Island, NY. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

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Big Mark's Action Park LogoOn Memorial Day Weekend 2013, the Stillwell Avenue lots owned by Thor Equities and leased to the BK Festival for the past two seasons will showcase a brand-new tenant. “Big Mark’s Action Park in Coney Island is a fresh new face to the indie, owner-operator theme park scene in NYC, featuring hands-on, high quality amusements,” says the intro on the new park’s twitter page.

Big Mark is Mark Zientek, owner of New Jersey Partyworks, a long-established amusement rental and special events production company. He’s also chairman of ROAR (Responsible Operators of Amusement Rentals) and a NAARSO (National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials) certified maintenance technician. ATZ first met Mark last season, when he was the operations manager of the amusement park brought to Stillwell by the BK Festival and John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia.

When we ran into Mark in December he told us about the new park and said he planned to bring in state fair quality rides. Mark’s right hand man in this new venture is NY Scoops entrepreneur Timmy Grins, who is on board with his marketing and promotional expertise as well as his Italian ices. Now the project is no longer under wraps since a Facebook page was launched in January with details of the park’s offerings. Among the extreme attractions currently being discussed for Coney Island’s “Action Park” are a rock climbing wall, hot air balloons, helicopter rides and skydiving training with a vertical wind tunnel.

Too crazy for Coney? Maybe not. Also mentioned is an Extreme Air Jumper, which simulates board sports and launches participants up to 25 feet in the air. Its manufacturer Extreme Engineering says the jumper system was awarded “Best New Product” in the entertainment industry two years in a row by IAAPA, the amusement industry trade association. As Mark told ATZ: “I’m not trying to compete with the rides at the other parks. I’m offering something different and unique.”

Last year, the BK Festival dressed up the area behind Nathan’s with multi-colored tents for vendors. The new park is also looking for vendors for pop-up shops: “If you are a crafter, a culinary genius of some sort, have a cool new product, or got something to sell and are interested in vendor space in Coney Island this Summer as part of BIG MARKS ACTION PARK, let us know! The spaces will fill FAST.”

Big Mark’s Action Park promises an outdoor bar called either Big Mark’s Mega Bar or Marko Grande’s Coney Cantina. It’s a mouthful, but Mark says you can call it Mega Bar or Coney Cantina for short and it will feature nightly entertainment. As more details about the park become available, we’ll post an update.

UPDATE October 17, 2013

If you would like to know why the park never opened, just read “The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades” (ATZ, October 17, 2013). The lot first became vacant after Thor Equities acquired the land and evicted ride and park operators and remains vacant today despite a history of various amusement operators’ efforts to negotiate lease deals. The latest project that never happened was Big Mark’s Action Park, which planned to bring a rock climbing wall, a vertical wind tunnel and other extreme attractions to Thor’s Stillwell lots in 2013. It’s a similar story as ATZ’s previous post “The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks” contrasting the activated City-owned and vacant Thor-owned sides of the Walk.

UPDATE May 25, 2013

Thor Equities lot on Stillwell Avenue where Big Mark’s Action Park announced they would build their new park remains depressingly empty except for the abandoned MegaWhirl. In reply to our query about the park’s status, “Big Mark” replied, “We are experiencing some unforeseen headwinds, but, are very much on the push to get open as soon as possible. We believe our Action Park will be super complimentary and not competitive to the already wonderful mix of attractions in Coney Island.” On their Facebook page, there’s a cryptic allusion to being “mired in a Clash of the Titans and in a holding pattern.”

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April 2, 2012: BK Festival’s 1st Amusement Rides Arrive in Coney Island

May 16, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Make Dismal Debut

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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