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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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December 24, 2012: In Thor’s Coney Island, Discount on Retail Ride of a Lifetime

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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Tom's Coney Island

Tom’s Coney Island. August 14, 2012. Photo © Coney Island History Project

Summer’s almost over, but three Coney Island businesses still under construction– Tom’s Restaurant, Place to Beach Bar and the Zipline– are hoping to open soon and get in what’s left of the season. On Monday, Tom’s new blue-and-white sign and awnings went up on the facade. It’s official — the Boardwalk outpost of the Prospect Heights eatery will be called “Tom’s Coney Island.”

After Labor Day, Coney Island’s amusement parks are open weekends through the end of October. A few attractions and stores in the amusement area such as the New York Aquarium, Nathan’s on Surf Avenue and Coney Island Beach Shop are open daily year-round, but it remains to be seen how many of the new or rehabbed businesses will follow suit. When completed, Tom’s initially expects to remain open at least nine months of the year. One of the Coney Island Development Corporation’s goals is to develop year-round businesses to make Coney Island into “a year-round, world-class recreational oceanfront destination.”

Coney Island Zipline

Coney Island Zipline, View from West 15th Street. August 11, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

If you’re one of the adventurous souls who bought advance tix in June or July for the Coney Island Zipline, it’s been hurry up and wait some more. Last week, the crew was trained and the ride was tested, but the long-awaited zipline did not open over the weekend as expected. Coney Island Zipline manager James Wilcox told ATZ the zipline had been inspected and tested a thousand times, but the opening would be delayed till this week. Official sources tell ATZ that additional paperwork needs to be filed and the Zipline might open on Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, construction continued on the scaffolding platform as shown in the above photo. The BK Festival’s merchandise vendors have been put out of business by the ongoing work, but will be allowed to return to their tents once the adjacent zipline is open and the lot is no longer a construction site.

Tom's Coney Island

Tom’s Coney Island: Menu at Temporary Stand. August 11, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue, construction continues on Tom’s Coney Island and Zamperla’s Place To Beach Bar. Both were announced to open this summer but construction has been slow and their debut has been pushed back till the end of August or early September. Throughout the summer, Tom’s has been selling hot dogs, shrimp salad sandwiches and other beach food from a tent set up in front of the store. Once the place opens, we’re looking forward to sampling their signature pancakes and crab cakes.

Back in early July, ATZ wrote that by the looks of the gut rehab underway, it wouldn’t be ready till late July, if then. The former location of Nathan’s and Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis (as well as the original Club Atlantis) required by far the most work and investment of any of the rehabbed Boardwalk stores. Due to structural issues, the place had to be completely gutted and rebuilt, including the roof and some of the brickwork. Windows were installed in the west wall. A new roof deck for alfresco dining will have spectacular views of the beach and boardwalk.

Across the street, Zamperla’s PTB —Place to Beach — Bar is under construction next to Scream Zone’s Skycoaster and Go Karts. It’s the former site of Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island. When we passed by on Saturday, the roof appeared to be sprouting the beginnings of a lighthouse!

UPDATE September 12, 2012

Place To Beach

Under Construction: Place To Beach. August 11, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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September 23, 2012: Photo Album: First Brunch at Tom’s Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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

August 2, 2012: New Building Breaks Ground Next to Coney Island’s Stillwell Terminal

February 2, 2012: Thor’s Coney Island: Generic New Building at Surf & Stillwell

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