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Get on the Bus: Coney Island. Really Fun, Really Open. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Get on the Bus: Coney Island. Really Fun, Really Open. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Today NY1, News12 and the Brooklyn Paper were in Coney Island covering the lockdown of Dreamland amusement area by property owner Thor Equities because of a rent dispute. More terrible publicity for Coney courtesy of Thor. People will hear part of this story and think because “Dreamland” is closed all of Coney Island is shutdown and it’s not worth going.

Coney Island is open. Only Dreamland, the temporary fair on the former Astroland site, is closed. Big deal. Dreamland never lived up to Joe Sitt’s promise of 25 rides. It had 12 rides and several sideshows including the “Giant Rat” (a capybara) and Headless Woman. If you missed seeing these shows, please visit the photosharing site flickr where you can look at pix of the banners for free. You will have saved yourself a dollar.

I’m sorry Dreamland was abruptly closed by Thor Equities. I suspect this is all about Thor CEO Joe Sitt telling the Mayor, hey I upped the ante on the rent because amusements don’t make money. Last we heard, Sitt was squeezing the City for $165 million to buy him out. He may also be pressuring for concessions such as tax breaks and a hardship variance to build time shares in his Coney Island sandbox, oops I mean his property. It’s been three weeks since the City Council approved the rezoning of Coney without sealing the deal to buy Thor Equities property.

But there’s still plenty for visitors to enjoy in Coney Island. I work in Coney and have actually kept a ride count all summer long. Without Thor Equities Dreamland, CONEY ISLAND STILL HAS 43 –that’s FORTY THREE RIDES. In addition to the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, there’s Deno’s Park with 21 rides, McCullough’s Kiddie Park with a dozen rides, the fabulous Eldorado Bumper Cars & Arcade, Polar Express and more.

Also in today’s headlines was the closing of Coney Island’s beach as well as other City beaches for the weekend due to the approach of Hurricane Bill.

Rain or shine, people can enjoy Ringling’s Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus, the Coney Island USA sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach, the Coney Island Museum, the Coney Island History Project, the New York Aquarium, Lola Staar’s Dreamland Roller Rink (not associated with “Dreamland Park”), Ruby’s Bar, Cha Cha’s and Coney Island Arcade.

Don’t be taken in by Thor Equities attempt to kill amusements in Coney Island by closing down his temporary fair three weeks ahead of schedule. Support amusements in Coney Island by coming out and patronizing longtime operators and entrepreneurs.

SEPT 5, 2009 UPDATE Dreamland was allowed to reopen for Labor Day Weekend after City Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr. interceded. Operating rides include Geren Rides Ring of Fire, Reverchon Himalaya, Trabant, Scrambler and five kiddie rides. There are also two arcades, games and food stands. The park has about half as many attractions as when it closed since John Strong’s sideshows left and Butler Amusements rides were dismantled. The entrance to the park is on Surf Avenue. A few games and stands have been set up at the Boardwalk gate.

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