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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island’s opening day’

Coney Island’s Opening Day ceremonies have been rescheduled for Saturday, March 26th, due to snow forecast for Palm Sunday. The parks will also be open March 25th, Good Friday, and March 27th, Easter Sunday.

In prep for Coney Island’s opening day on March 20th, the Wonder Wheel’s 24 cars were put back on the landmark ride on Friday. As we’ve noted in past years, the annual ritual is regarded as the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Being there to see the cars go up, the swinging blue and red ones first and then the stationary white, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes.

This year, videographer Jim McDonnell recorded a wonderful up-close, behind-the-scenes look at the Vourderis family and their longtime crew returning the freshly painted and refurbished cars to the Wheel after the ride’s winter rest. At the 46 second mark, look for Wonder dog Ringo, park co-owner Steve Vourderis’s pet, cutely supervising. Ringo enjoys riding the Wheel and is no doubt anticipating his first ride of the season. So are we!

Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the rest of Coney Island’s rides will go for their first spin of the 2016 season on Palm Sunday, which also happens to be the first day of spring this year, and is just eight days away. The 31st annual Blessing of the Rides at Wonder Wheel Park starts at 11:00am. After the ceremony, there will be free rides for 300 children from the local Salt and Sea Mission, and free rides on Deno’s Wonder Wheel for the first 96 people on line in celebration of the 1920 Wheel’s 96th year.

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Wonder Wheel dog Ringo supervising the return of the cars to the Wheel. March 11, 2016. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

The FDNY Color Guard will present the colors and sing the National Anthem at Coney Island’s Opening Day Ceremony. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

There’s a chance of snow showers on Saturday, but it’s expected to be sunny with temps in the 40s on Palm Sunday, when Coney Island’s rides go for their first spin of the season. In celebration of the landmark Wonder Wheel’s 95th year, the first 95 people will get a free ride on Opening Day. The soon-to-be 88-year-old Cyclone roller coaster will as usual offer free rides to the first 100 on line. Erik Knapp aka Mr. Cyclone is once again expected to arrive the night before to be the first on line.

Michael Sarrel, co-owner of Ruby's Bar

Michael Sarrel, co-owner of Ruby’s Bar. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Saturday, the Boardwalk businesses Ruby’s Bar and Lola Star Boutique will welcome customers for the first time since last fall, joining Tom’s Restaurant and Brooklyn Beach Shop, which are already open daily.

Saturday night is Coney Island USA’s spring gala, which is being held at the art organization’s Surf Avenue headquarters on the eve of Coney’s Opening Day. Featuring performances by burlesque and sideshow stars including Mat Fraser of “American Horror Story,” live music, and go go dancers in the Freak Bar, the event runs from 8pm till midnight.

Coney Island USA Freak Bar

Freak Bar at Coney Island USA. Photo © Norman Blake

The annual fundraiser supports Coney Island USA’s Mermaid Parade, Coney Island Circus Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach, Coney Island Museum and Coney Island Film Festival. General admission of $100 includes unlimited beer, wine, and food. VIP admission of $150 also includes one hour earlier admission at 7pm, Meet and Greet with some of the performers in the V.I.P. Lounge, and gift bags. Tickets may be purchased online until 10pm on Friday. Day of tickets available from 6pm and during the gala at Coney Island USA.

On Palm Sunday, the festivities begin at 10:30am on the Boardwalk with the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park by Pastor Debbie Santiago of Coney Island’s Salt and Sea Mission, speeches by elected officials, and the FDNY color guard presenting the Colors and singing the National Anthem. After a ribbon cutting ceremony at Deno’s gate, the gathering moves to the Cyclone roller coaster, which is operated by Luna Park. Brooklyn’s Borough President performs the traditional Egg Cream Christening of the front car of the Cyclone, after which it goes for its inaugural ride of the season.

Chuck Schumer Erik Knapp

Senator Schumer admires Erik Knapp’s Cyclone Tattoo, Opening Day, March 24, 2013. Photo via Luna Park

The Coney Island Circus Sideshow will run continuously on Palm Sunday from 1pm – 8pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids under 12.

The Coney Island History Project, located on West 12th Street under the Wonder Wheel sign, will be open special hours from 1pm-6pm for a preview of the 2015 season and free souvenir photos with vintage ride figures. Admission is free of charge.

Also opening on Palm Sunday are 12th Street Amusements and the remaining independent concessions on the Bowery and West 12th Street, including the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island,” the animated windows of “Coney Island Always,” games of skill such as Skin the Wire and Feed the Clown, and Monica, the High Striker Queen of Coney Island.

Coney Island

Monica getting ready to open her High Striker on West 12th Street in Coney Island. March 22, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

March 19, 2015: News and Views: 10 Days Till Coney Island’s Opening Day

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

March 29, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

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Coney Island Signage

Coney Island Signage in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Photo © Tricia Vita

Now that Coney’s amusement parks are closed for the season and temps are in the 40s, we’re starting to see depressing comments on social media:

Went to an abandoned Coney Island to help a friend out on a shoot

Coney Island (amusement park) looks like a ghost town

Missing the summer and the rides on the “Wheel”…

Don’t remind me

Me too

Hey, Coney’s Opening Day is only 140 days away! Palm Sunday is early next year, on March 29th.

Also, check out our post from last fall “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round” for things to do until then.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 7, 2014: Photo Album: Deno’s Carousel Horses Put to Bed for Winter

November 3, 2014: Summertime Has Gone Away, Polar Bears Are Here to Stay

January 2, 2014: Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge’s Best Dressed of 2014

December 23, 2013: Coney’s Parachute Jump & Wonder Wheel Lit for Christmas

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Coney Island signage

Coney Island signage in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park with Luna Park’s Electro Spin, Air Race and Cyclone in background. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusements officially open for the season in just one day–on Palm Sunday! Freebies abound at the People’s Playground for early birds who relish being among the first as well as for casual visitors all day long.

–The first 100 people on line at both the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel will get a free ride. Rides open after the 11am Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the 11:45am Egg Cream Christening at the Cyclone. For the rest of the day, a ride on the Cyclone, which usually costs $9, will be discounted to $6. At Deno’s, over 200 Coney Island kids from the local Salt and Sea Mission will be treated to free rides, toys and Easter bags. In addition to face-painters and stiltwalkers, Ray Balloons will be on hand to make free balloon animals for visitors and DJ Joe will spin tunes on the Boardwalk.

face-painters, balloon artists, a DJ, and stilt-walkers

–The Coney Island History Project‘s exhibition center, where historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films are on view, offers free admission from 1 till 6pm. Visitors are invited to take free souvenir photos with the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops or an original Steeplechase horse. Next door to the History Project are windows featuring the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always.” “25 cents to laugh. 25 cents to smile.”

Coney Island Always

Coney Island Always. 25 cents To Laugh and Feel Good. West 12th St, Coney Island. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

–Coney Island USA’s Noisefest is a free event from 2 till 5pm featuring Rock ‘n’ Roll Karaoke with the band Mystical Children and a “Follow the Bouncing Ball Vintage Movie Singalong” by the Museum of Interesting Things.

Rita’s Italian Ice is celebrating the Grand Opening of its Coney Island store by offering free regular size ices to visitors all day Sunday as well as Monday.

The rides at Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado Bumper Cars will continue spinning daily through April 22nd during spring break for New York City’s public schools. For the rest of April and May, the rides will be open weekends until Memorial Day Weekend, when the daily schedule kicks off for the summer.

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

March 28, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

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Mangels Ponycart

Mangels Pony Cart from Ride at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

This freshly painted little pony from the classic Mangels Pony Cart at Deno’s Kiddie Park will soon be back on the ride’s platform. In the meantime, he appears to be chomping at the bit for Coney Island’s Opening Day. It’s only 15 days away! The Palm Sunday opener, featuring the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the ceremonial Egg Cream Christening of the front car of the Cyclone, is April 13th.

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

March 29, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

July 4, 2012: Photo of the Day: Mangels Pony Cart Ride

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Nathan's Coney Island

First Food Shipment to Nathan’s in Coney Island since Sandy. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last week, ATZ spotted this huge semi parked on Coney Island’s West 12th Street adjacent to Nathan’s Boardwalk restaurant. It was the first food delivery to Nathan’s since Sandy struck nearly five months ago. On Monday, March 18th, you’ll finally be able to get a Nathan’s hot dog again in Coney Island when the Boardwalk location reopens. Everyone in Coney is busy, busy, busy getting ready for Opening Day – March 24th — which is now just 7 days away. The amount of activity far exceeds anything we’ve seen in past years because of the extra added work of recovering and rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy. Even though Palm Sunday, Coney’s traditional opening day, is early this year, the great majority of the rides, games and eateries are ready to open. More photos from the flickr set are here.

 Place to BEach

Zamperla’s New Place to BEach Bar & Grill, Coney Island. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Under construction since last summer, Place to BEach Bar & Grill — the capital “E” is not a typo– is about to make its debut. The revamped structure’s most distinctive feature is a mini-lighthouse with a weathervane that says “Every Wind Leads to PTB Bar.” Last week was the first time we saw the Boardwalk spot with its shutters open. Workers at the site told ATZ they expect to be able to open for counter service on March 24th.

Located on the former site of Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island, the new addition to Coney’s skyline is adjacent to Scream Zone’s Skycoaster and Go Karts. It is operated by CAI Foods, LLC, the relatively new food division of Zamperla’s Central Amusements International. French food service giant Sodexo, which Luna Park had partnered with since 2010, is now said to be out of the picture in Coney Island. That’s something to cheer about. Word on the street is that PTB’s menu will be Tex-Mex. Neighboring businesses on the Boardwalk including Tom’s Coney Island and Brooklyn Beach Shop are already open daily and the rest plan to open on the weekend of March 23rd.

Zenobio

Scream Zone’s Zenobio Goes for Test Spin. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney’s amusement area Mom & Pops affected by the storm are busy rebuilding too. Bowery eateries Plaza Mexico Dona Zita, Gyro Corner and Bernard’s and Williams Candy on Surf are remodeling. Jimmy Balloons, who operates the popular balloon dart game on the Bowery, is building a new booth on Jones Walk under the Wonder Wheel’s neon sign. The lease on his longtime location across the way was held by Manny Cohen of Coney Island Arcade, who was evicted after 22 years and is moving to Vegas with Target the Coney Island Cat.

Under Construction: Jimmy Balloons New Balloon Dart. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Other veteran businesses that will not return this season are the 50-year-old McCullough’s Kiddie Park, at Bowery and W 12th Street, which could not come to lease terms with Thor Equities. Cha Cha’s of Surf Avenue announced after Sandy that it was closing forever. Denny’s Ice Cream, which was sold to Coney Island USA, was badly damaged by the storm and will be replaced with a 1940s shooting gallery from Wonder Wheel Park. The New York Aquarium, Coney Island USA, and Nathan’s on Surf Avenue are still rebuilding and expect to reopen by Memorial Day Weekend. The new Steeplechase Plaza with the restored B & B Carousell is slated to open that weekend as well.

Wonder Wheel Car

Wonder Wheel Car Being Rolled Out of Storage. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The cars of the Wonder Wheel were rolled out of storage last week and put back up on the Wheel on Saturday afternoon. The annual ritual is considered the first sign of spring in Coney Island. The rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone, 12th Street Amusements (Update: they’re still working and expect to open on Easter) and the Eldorado Bumper Cars are being tested and inspected and will go for their first official spin of the year on March 24th. The Cyclone opens at 12 noon with the first 100 fans on line riding for free. Construction at Luna Park includes a new pinwheel gate on the Boardwalk and ticket booths and entrance at the Cyclone.

New Zoltar

New Zoltar Under Wraps at Wonder Wheel Park. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

At Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the annual Blessing of the Rides ceremony starts at 11 am on the Boardwalk. This year, to celebrate Coney’s comeback from Sandy, rides on the landmark Wonder Wheel are free for everyone on Opening Day. The rebuilt Spook-A-Rama dark ride is expected to make its debut along with a ghost-themed shooting gallery and a brand-new Zoltar. The Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center under the Wheel will be open, along with its neighbors “Coney Island Always,” a window showcasing a miniature animated amusement park, and “Miss Coney Island” the dancing doll.

Coney Island Beach

Post-Sandy Sand Dunes Bulldozed, Coney Island Beach. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The temporary sand dunes in Coney Island’s amusement area were bulldozed and we have a beach again. During Sandy recovery, the Army Corps of Engineers established a “temporary storage site,” or TSS, at West 15th Street after moving an estimated 32,000 cubic yards of sand, the equivalent of roughly 12 Olympic-size swimming pools, out of Coney Island neighborhoods. The sand was eventually sifted and moved back to the beach, which officially reopens for swimming on Saturday, May 25. Repairs to Steeplechase Pier and sections of the Boardwalk are also underway.

Boardwalk Repairs

Boardwalk Repairs, Coney Island March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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March 15, 2013: Coney Island Cyclone Getting New Ticket Booths

March 13, 2013: Coney Island 2013: New Ghouls Mingle with Old in Rebuilt Spook-A-Rama

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

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Coney Island USA Gala Banner

March 9: Coney Island USA Spring Gala at Webster Hall. Banner by Marie Roberts. Photo © Norman Blake

March 8: The Coney Island Dancers First Dance Party of the Season
The Coney Island Dancers, whose free parties on the Boardwalk are the stuff of summer, are getting a head start on the season. On Friday, March 8th, Rican Vargas AKA The Commander-in-Chief is hosting Latin House Night with DJ Frankie Paradise from 9 pm till 4 am. The venue is Coney Island Bar and Grill on the north side of Surf Avenue, across the street from Coney Island USA. $5 cover until 11pm, $8 after. Full kitchen menu available.

March 9: Tracing the Story of the Dreamland Bell’s Maker
dreamland bellWhen the bell from Coney Island’s Iron Pier was hauled up from the ocean nearly a century after it was lost during the 1911 Dreamland Fire, there was jubilation in Coney. Information about the bell’s maker has come to light thanks to the research of Brooklyn architect David Grider. On Saturday, he’s giving a talk at Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel on the “USS Monitor to the Dreamland Bell: Unscrambling the Story of James Gregory.” The 1 pm event is free but reservations are required. A trolley tour of related Green-Wood sites, including Gregory’s grave, is available for $15.

March 9: Coney Island USA Spring Gala & The Burlesque Manifesto
When Coney Island opens for the season on March 24, we’ll miss Coney Island USA’s circus sideshow, burlesque shows and Freak Bar. They don’t expect to open till May, since CIUSA’s building suffered flood damage from Sandy. On Saturday, March 9th, you can help out with their renovation costs by partying from 7-11 pm with sideshow freaks and burlesque beauties at Coney Island USA’s Spring Gala at Webster Hall. One of the highlights of the evening is a staging of “The Burlesque Manifesto” starring a who’s who of Coney luminaries and based on an article written by CIUSA founder Dick Zigun. Ticket prices range from $60 to $250 and may be purchased online or at the door.

March 10: Around the World with Tom Thumb
Tom ThumbTom Thumb biographer and University of Bridgeport professor Eric D. Lehman will present an illustrated lecture at the Barnum Museum on March 10. Charles S. Stratton, AKA General Tom Thumb, became an international celebrity when P.T. Barnum took him on a European tour, which is the subject of Sunday’s talk. Lehman is the author of Becoming Tom Thumb due out in November from Wesleyan University Press. The museum will have on display an exhibition of artifacts owned by Tom Thumb and his wife Lavinia Warren. Admission to the 2 pm event is $5.
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March 17: Carol Lipnik and Spookarama at Joe’s Pub
carollipnik_ 5621071-thumbConey Island native Carol Lipnik, who calls her band Spookarama after the dark ride at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, will appear in concert at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. Her multi-octave voice and Dred Scott’s wurlitzer do indeed make you feel as if you’ve stepped inside an old-timey spook house or are careening down the drop of a roller coaster. Check out ATZ’s Q & A with Carol and her song “List Of Attractions (Of Coney Island)” here. The St Patrick’s Day show is at 7 pm. Tickets are $15.

March 23: Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier
Nathan’s kicks off Coney Island’s 2013 Season with the first-ever qualifier for the 4th of July hot dog eating contest to be held in Coney Island. The male and female winners of the March 23rd Coney qualifier will win a spot in “The Big Dance” on July Fourth. The event is set for 1 pm at Nathan’s Boardwalk restaurant, which reopens on March 18 to serve the first Nathan’s hot dogs and buns since Sandy devastated the area. Renovations are underway at the Surf Avenue location, which is expected to reopen by Memorial Day Weekend. For info on registering for a hot dog eating qualifier, visit Major League Eating.

March 24: Coney Island’s Opening Day of the 2013 Season
Coney IslandConey Island’s traditional Palm Sunday Opener comes early this year – March 24th! The rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado will go for their first spin of 2013. The Cyclone opens at 12 noon with the first 100 fans on line riding for free. At Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the annual Blessing of the Rides ceremony starts at 11 am on the Boardwalk. This year, to celebrate Coney’s comeback from Sandy, rides on the landmark Wonder Wheel are free for everyone on Opening Day. The Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center will be open, along with its neighbors “Coney Island Always,” a window showcasing a miniature animated amusement park, and “Miss Coney Island” the dancing doll. It’s also the first official weekend of the season for the Boardwalk shops and eateries and the games on the Bowery.

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