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Posts Tagged ‘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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Repair crew on Coney Island Boardwalk

Repair crew on Coney Island Boardwalk. March 13, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

With Coney Island’s Palm Sunday season opener a mere 10 days away, the amusement area is a flurry of activity. New signage and work permits are affixed to buildings, job trainings and Boardwalk repairs are underway. Trenches are being dug along the Bowery and Jones Walk to lay new gas lines before the area comes fully awake from its winter slumber. City ride inspectors were on site on Wednesday inspecting rides that are ready to spin while both new rides and old favorites are still being set up in Coney Island’s amusement parks.

Scrambler Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Astroland’s Scrambler is back in Coney at the Wonder Wheel. Photo © Tricia Vita

The cars are expected to go back up on the Wonder Wheel any day now — the official first sign of Spring. Among the season’s three new family rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is the Speedway, a Nascar-inspired ride with a Whip-like twist, which ATZ previewed earlier this month. A new Drop Tower arrived on Monday, as per this photo shared via twitter…

Astroland’s popular Scrambler has been refurbished and brought home to Coney Island. The ride is now being assembled in its new spot beside the Wonder Wheel. In Luna Park, Zamperla’s Rockin’ Tug has replaced the Beach Shack, and more new rides are yet to come.

Luna Games

New ‘Luna Games’ Signage Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita

Luna Park is increasing its presence on the Boardwalk with bold electric signage for “Luna Games” and additional pinwheels, which are the park’s logo. ATZ has learned exclusively that the owner of Coney’s Cones sold his small business to landlord Central Amusements International, which operates Luna Park. The ice cream shop had one year remaining on its five-year lease. The other independent businesses on the Boardwalk including Tom’s, Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter have eight-year leases. Sources say that Zamperla will bring an Italian gelato shop to Coney Cone’s location, which is adjacent to the park’s boardwalk gate. The park is also debuting ticketbooths on the Boardwalk.

Luna Park Pinwheel

New Pinwheel, Luna Park’s logo, on the move in Scream Zone. Photo © Tricia Vita

In the Strange & Unusual Department: A giant skull long retired from duty at Wonder Wheel Park’s Spook-A-Rama dark ride was pulled out of storage and wheeled over to the Coney Island History Project. This fantastic creature will be on display this season, replacing the Cyclops head which is on loan to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art for a traveling art exhibit. Like the Cyclops, the skull’s eyes light up and move, promising some terrific selfies. The skull was a stage prop in Harvey Fierstein’s 1984 play Spookhouse and a denizen of the Coney Island Hysterical Society’s Spookhouse in the former Dragon’s Cave on the Bowery.

Skull from dark ride

Skull from dark ride en route to Coney Island History Project Photo © Tricia Vita

In Thor Equities’ building on Stillwell Avenue, work permits are posted and construction is underway on Wahlburgers, which is expected to open in May. The permits cover general construction on the first floor and the roof, where outdoor dining will be available for the celebrity burger chain . The roof currently overlooks an empty lot but as ATZ wrote in January: “Coney Island Rumor Mill: No Rides But Games, Food & Merch Coming to Thor’s Lot.”

There could be some truth to the rumor. Earlier this month, electrical service was installed on the lots. Since Thor bought the property in 2006 and evicted amusement operator Norman Kaufman, the Stillwell lots have occasionally hosted flea markets or carnivals. The lots were vacant last year as well as in 2010 and 2013, when the City issued a stop-work order on a permit for “temporary parking for the amusement district.”

Wahlburgers Coney Island

Building permits posted on window of future Wahlburgers on Stillwell Avenue, where construction is underway. Photo © Tricia Vita

Check our post on “Coney Island Amusement Park Jobs from Entry Level to Managerial Up for Grabs” for updates. New jobs being advertised included Brand Ambassadors for Luna Park, Marketing and Events Coordinator for Wahlburgers, and account Manager for Coney Island Brewing Company. Game of skill operators are needed for the 2015 season at the independent games on West 12th street off the Boardwalk. Apply in person or message @MissConeyIsland via twitter.

Luna Park Job Screening

Luna Park Job Screening at B&B Carousell. Photo © Tricia Vita

After the March 29th season opener, Coney Island’s amusement parks are open weekends and school holidays until the daily schedule kicks in Memorial Day Weekend.

More photos from this set may be viewed on flickr.

Polar Express

Polar Express, famed for its mega sound system and live DJs, getting ready for Coney Island’s Opening Day, 12th Street Amusements. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

March 6, 2015: Photo Album: Glimpses of Spring in Coney Island

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

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

March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

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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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Miss Coney Island, Opening day

Miss Coney Island x 2 + pals on Coney Island’s Opening Day 2013. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Sick of the snow? Cheer up! Coney Island’s Opening Day is a mere 59 days away. This year’s Palm Sunday opener, featuring the ceremonial Egg Cream Christening of the front car of the Cyclone and the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, is April 13th.

In the meantime, we’ll try to avoid posting any more photos of snow on the boardwalk.

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

March 17, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

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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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Astroland 2008

Taking Souvenir Photos at Astroland on Opening Day of the Season. March 16, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island’s traditional Opening Day is Palm Sunday, which also happens to be April 1st this year. We’re celebrating the occasion with a look back at favorite photos of Opening Day beginning with 2008. In that year, Palm Sunday fell early–on March 28th–and State Senator Diane Savino gamely joined the hula-hooping party on West 10th Street.

Diane Savino

Senator Diane Savino hula hoops at Astroland's opening day celebration. March 16, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Opening Day is a time for Coney Island aficionados and friends to take the first souvenir pictures of the season, go for a first spin on Coney’s rides and win the first prize of the year. It’s a day for elected officials who represent the neighborhood to preside over the ceremonial openings of the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel and for local boosters to show their pride.

Boy wins his first prize of the 2009 season at Water Race Game on Jones Walk

Boy wins his first prize of the 2009 season at Water Race Game on Jones Walk. April 5, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This Sunday’s festivities begin at 11 am with the Annual Blessing of the Rides by Pastor Debbie Santiago of Coney Island’s Salt N Sea Mission at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, tradition that began in 1983. Free entertainment by face painters, clowns, stilt walkers and DJ Joe follows the ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by park owners Dennis and Steve Vourderis. Children from the mission receive free rides, lunch and Easter baskets full of toys. The first 100 people on line for the Wonder Wheel get to ride the landmark wheel for half price.

Blessing of the Rides

Pastor Debbie Santiago, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Dennis Vourderis and Borough President Marty Markowitz at Blessing of the Rides at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. March 28, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

At 12 noon, the Cyclone Roller Coaster opens for the season with the ceremonial Egg Cream Christening of the first car on the ride’s platform. After dignitaries and guests go for the first ride, the first 100 people on line ride the Cyclone for free. The landmark coaster’s first drop was rebuilt this winter, so it will be interesting to hear what the Cyclone’s fans have to say. Following the ceremony at the Cyclone, the rides at Luna Park and Scream Zone open for the season.

Opening Day

Borough President Marty Markowitz Breaking Bottle of Egg Cream with Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani at Cyclone's Opening Day Ceremony March 28, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

While most of the Boardwalk stores, including Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, are undergoing renovations and Zamperla’s new go karts and Sky Coaster aren’t slated to open till May, there is one new ride to try on Opening Day. The Astroland bumper cars have returned to Coney Island and their new home is Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.

Coney’s 61 rides and diverse attractions will be open on April 1st from 12 noon till around 8 pm, weather permitting. On West 12th Street under the Wonder Wheel, the Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center opens at 12 noon. The Coney Island Polar Bears go for their weekly swim at 1 pm and Coney Island USA’s annual Noisefest gets underway at 2 pm.

Thanks as always to ATZ friend and contributing photographer Bruce Handy for his photos of Coney Island’s Opening Day.

Zoltar

Zoltar Speaks joins Grandma's Predictions Under the Wonder Wheel on Opening Day 2011. March 28, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

April 12, 2014: April 13: Freebies Abound on 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 11, 2012: Photo Album: Under Construction in Coney Island 2012

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