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Bici Da Vinci

Zamperla’s Magic Bike Ride inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci. Photo via Italy in US 2013

On June 28th, Venice comes to Coney Island when Luna Park operator CAI Parks stages a Venetian “carnevale” on the Boardwalk and in the new Steeplechase Plaza. A Zamperla-designed amusement ride inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s designs for flying machines is set to be part of the festivities along with Friday night fireworks. The event is part of “Italy in USA 2013,” a year-long showcase of Italian culture, including art, music, cinema, stage, design, fashion and food, organized by the Italian government “to promote Italy as a whole in both the cultural thematics and the economic features of the Italian Brand.” The series of events has the hashtag #2013italianyear on twitter.

“Antonio Zamperla S.p.A and Central Amusement International LLC (CAI) recreate the magical atmosphere of ‘Carnevale’ in Venice with masks, gondolieri, acrobats and street artists,” according to the calendar of events.

Rendering for Parachute Jump Lighting, Steeplechase Plaza

Rendering for Parachute Jump Lighting, Steeplechase Plaza. Photo via Italy in US 2013

“There will also be a virtual tour of Venice throughout various eras called the Venice Imago Project in collaboration with Università Ca’ Foscari of Venezia where spectators can see the city and its works of art created by famous artists like Bellini, Giorgione, Tiepolo. The Boardwalk on Coney Island will be reminiscent of the Venetian streets during Carnevale with face painting activities for the children and contests for best Venetian masks.”

The Magic Bikes amusement ride pictured in the event calendar is Zamperla’s “Bici Da Vinci,” which was originally designed for Leonardo Land at Minitalia Leolandia. The Italian park was formerly owned in part by Zamperla, which is based in nearby Vicenza. “We came up with the story that we have found a secret book by Leonardo Da Vinci in which he designed an amusement park for the prince,” said Alberto Zamperla in an interview with Park World in 2009. “That is how we themed some of the rides.” The program listing for the Coney Island event says the Magic Bikes will be placed near the entrance to Luna Park. The ride is said to reproduce the design and the operating method of Leonardo Da Vinci’s studies of the flight of birds and his sketches for flying machines.

The new Steeplechase Plaza, where Zamperla won the contract to operate the historic B&B Carousell and light the landmark Parachute Jump, is scheduled to open on Memorial Day Weekend. The June 28th Venetian Carnevale will be six days after Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade, which is on June 22, the first Saturday of summer.

UPDATE 2:45 pm

Whoops! It turns out the info posted on the Italian Foreign Ministry’s Italy in USA 2013 event page is not completely accurate! According to an email from Luna Park online coordinator Rob Blatt: “Some of the information about the Venice in Coney Island event is incorrect on the Italy in the USA site. The actual event that was supposed to be on June 28 was moved to a different date, and will now be a private event, not something public.” It’s too bad a Venetian Carnevale in the People’s Playground, which sounds like a fun addition to Coney’s schedule, went from being a public to a private event. If you get an invite, let us know! (Update May 24th: The mystery private event was apparently the Venetian Carnevale-themed, invitation-only party with masked dancers held at the B&B Carousell on its official opening day.) The good news is Leonardo’s Magic Bikes are still coming and will be one of the new rides in Luna Park along with Water-mania.

Bici Da Vinci at Minitalia Leolandia Park

Bici Da Vinci at Minitalia Leolandia Park via Facebook

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March 31, 2013: Surf’s Up for CAI Foods in Coney Island, Sodexo Is Out

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

August 10, 2012: Steeplechase Plaza Under Construction in Coney Island

December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

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SkyCoaster Construction

SkyCoaster Under Construction at Scream Zone, May 11, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy. All Rights Reserved

Zamperla’s plans for Go Karts and a SkyCoaster on City-owned “Parcel C” in Coney Island were unveiled last November and on Friday the launch tower of the new thrill ride was put into place with a crane. Coney photographer Bruce Handy’s stunning photos juxtapose the SkyCoaster with the great-granddaddy of vertical thrill rides– the 250-foot tall tower of the landmark Parachute Jump. From the 1940s until it closed in 1964, the Jump was the high thrill in Coney Island and to this day it has supporters who clamor for it to be retrofit and made operable again. Will the new high thrill ride on the Boardwalk win them over?

The Coney Island SkyCoaster will be called Boardwalk Flight, according to Luna Park’s website: “Take flight over the Atlantic Ocean at heights of over 200 feet. Not thrilling enough? Try it at over 60 mph! This Sky-Coaster will propel you mid-air giving you a sky-diving sensation.” A SkyCoaster combines elements of skydiving and hang-gliding. Riders are harnessed into “flight suits,” winched to the top of a tower and then swing through the sky as they drop towards the ground. From the time you’re strapped in to the finish, each “flight” lasts about five minutes. At Scream Zone, the cost of the new ride will be 25/20/15 credits, which at $1 per credit equals $25/$20/$15, though bonus credits are available with the purchase of a Luna Card. (Update: When the ride opened on Memorial Day Weekend, the charge for riding was a flat fee of $20.)

SkyCoaster Coney Island

SkyCoaster Under Construction at Scream Zone, May 11, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy. All Rights Reserved

A spokesman from Luna Park told ATZ the price of riding the SkyCoaster depends on the number of riders–one, two or three–since up to three people can ride at a time. A solo skydive over the Boardwalk will cost you $25, but if you ride with two friends you’ll each pay $15. Manufactured by SkyCoaster Inc., the ride debuted in 1993 and can be found at over 75 parks around the world, from the Jersey Shore to Brazil and South Korea. In gated amusement parks, it’s typically an “upcharge attraction,” meaning that an additional fee is charged to riders who have already paid general admission to the park. Here’s the official video. And here’s a vid of three guys riding the 180-foot SkyCoaster at Six Flags Darien Lake.

Along with the Coney Island Raceway–as the Go Kart track will be called–Boardwalk Flight will be part of an expanded Scream Zone. Earlier this year Central Amusement International, the park division of Zamperla, shelved the idea of creating a third Coney Island park called “Speed Zone” on Parcel C. In March, Scream Zone manager Beau Berni told ATZ that the new rides will instead operate as part of Scream Zone, which is just across Stillwell Avenue and has four rides, including two Zamperla coasters. The SkyCoaster and Go Karts are scheduled to open on May 25th.

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Employees at Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

UPDATE: See post for 2015 season here: “Coney Island Amusement Park Jobs from Entry Level to Managerial Up for Grabs,” February 22, 2015

Running away with the carnival is easy but sticking with it through the end of the season is hard work. Once upon a time it was a rite of passage for American kids who wanted to see the world beyond their hometowns. Nowadays, the amusement industry still recruits high-school grads and college students, as well as retirees and others with merry-go-round memories and itchy feet. If you’d like to work in Coney Island or travel across the country with a carnival, now is the time of year to apply for a job.

Next week, Central Amusement International, operator of Coney Island’s Luna Park and Scream Zone, and Nathan’s Famous, together with the Coney Island Development Corporation, will begin recruiting for seasonal positions. “This is a unique opportunity to become a part of ‘The One and Only Coney’ by joining the team of dedicated employees that make Coney Island an entertainment destination worldwide,” says the CIDC event flyer for the upcoming screenings. (Update: If you are viewing this post in 2014, check out this season’s job information at “A Head Start on Summer Jobs in Coney Island”

The job screenings are February 28, March 1, April 24 and April 26, 2012 from 12 noon till 6 pm at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ MCU Park, 1904 Surf Avenue in Coney Island. In past years, nearly a thousand people have shown up on a single day, so we recommend getting there early. Qualified candidates, who must be 18 years of age or older, will be referred for an interview. Seasonal jobs include Ride and Game Operators, Food and Beverage Service, Park Service, Customer Service/Retail Sales and Ticket Sales Associates/Cashiers.

Lunatic Dance Team, Luna Park Coney Island. July 15, 2011. Photo © Jim McDonnell. All Rights Reserved.

If you’re reading this after the screening events have taken place or can’t make it, visit the Career Opportunities pages at Nathan’s Famous and Luna Park and also check Craigslist. Luna Park currently has an ad on Craigslist for dancers and performers for the Lunatic Promotion Team, which pays $10 per hour. According to the ad, “the team will attend offsite promotions to inform new guests about the park and all the amazing things Coney Island has to offer. The second task will be to handle on-site events, promotions, photo opportunities and guests experience surveys.” Performers, including singers, dancers and DJs, will take part in the Cyclone roller coaster’s 85th birthday celebration and Coney Island’s first end of the summer concert.

Game operator

Game operator with North American Midway Entertainment. Via Facebook.com/Namidway

A dozen years ago, homesick for the midways of my carnival childhood, I went on the road with S & S Amusements, touring the Pennsylvania fairs. Since then, I’ve worked as a game agent with Wade Shows at New York City’s “Big A” Fair, the Delaware State Fair, the Michigan State Fair and the Central Florida Fair, and on Coney Island’s Jones Walk. One advantage to working in Coney is being able to sleep in my apartment at night, though when I got home from being on the road all summer it took a bit of getting used to having townhouses across the way instead of a Tilt-A-Whirl.

“The carnival business, which supports America’s state and sounty fairs, festivals and community events, needs seasonal workers who are willing to travel, work nights, weekends and Holidays,” Bob Johnson, President of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association tells ATZ. A look at the websites of OABA member carnivals shows that these carnivals are hiring ride operators and attendants, food and game agents, maintenance, electricians and welders. “Weekly pay is based on State and Federal minimum wage rates, and other State regulations, such as overtime pay,” notes Johnson “Over 5 million seasonal workers support this industry and many come back year after year as they love to travel and entertain over 300 million patrons who visit the carnival midways.”

North American Midway Entertainment

Ride operators with North American Midway Entertainment. Via Facebook.com/Namidway

If the idea of traveling to 20 states and 4 Canadian provinces, including 10 of the top 50 fairs in North America is appealing, then you may want to check out North American Midway Entertainment’s Careers page.

ATZ talked with Ed Dame, Director of Operations for NAME, “the world’s largest traveling outdoor amusement park,” about opportunities with his company. “Eighty percent of our employees are locals,” he said. “We advertise in newspapers and state workforce agencies.” The carnival company has an Employee Appreciation Program, which rewards workers with gift certificates, iPads and computers.

Group activities include day trips to Major League baseball games, Banff, Niagara Falls and New York City, as well as BBQs, bowling nights and jamborees. Among the fairs played by NAME are The Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts, Toronto’s CNE, the Calgary Stampede, Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo and State Fairs in Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.

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January 10, 2014: A Head Start on Summer Jobs in Coney Island

February 2, 2010: Traveler: North American Midway’s Giant Vertical Swing at Super Bowl!

August 16, 2009: Coney Island Carnival Games: My Photo Album

January 26, 2010: Scoop: Zamperla’s $24M Coney Island Park to be Named Luna Park!

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