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Zip Line

Abandoned Zip Line on Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. December 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The strange saga of the zip line that came to Coney Island last summer and never opened (except for an hour-and-a-half) due to a permitting snafu with the City is about to end. The attraction was supposed to be part of the BK Festival and was set up on Thor Equities Stillwell Avenue lot behind Nathan’s, where it was left standing after the festival closed. Bob Rigsby, Project Manager of Scaffold King Rentals, Inc. of Rockville, Indiana, the company that rented the scaffolding to independent operator CAT 5 Zipline, has come to Coney Island to reclaim it.

“There’s $80,000 worth of metal, if we had to replace it,” Rigsby says of the two towers, which survived Superstorm Sandy just fine. “Right now we’re $60,000 in the hole.”

Scaffold King has hired a local crew to take down the towers starting this morning. It took five months for Rigsby to prove ownership of the scaffolding and get the necessary permits to dismantle it. The actual zip line is from a company in Boston that Scaffold King works with frequently, he says. Rigsby added that they will be installing a zip line elsewhere in New York that will go over the rooftops. We’re jealous. It’s too bad Coney Island never got to see this attraction in action. Based on the astronomical number of hits on ATZ posts updating the status of the Coney Island Zip Line and the emails and comments from people eagerly waiting for it to open, it would have been very popular and could have been a year-round attraction.

In January 2012, Scaffold King erected the launch and landing towers for the first-ever Super Bowl zip line, which was the single-longest temporary one ever constructed. Here’s a video of the 800-foot zip line at Super Bowl XLVI Village along Capitol Street in downtown Indianapolis.

UPDATE May 5, 2013

Tangled Up in Red Tape Department: First the zip line couldn’t open because of City permitting issues, now it’s stuck here because of permitting issues. The dismantling of the zip wires got underway as scheduled on Monday, but before the scaffolding could be taken down, work was stopped due to the wording on the permit. “The I’s have to be dotted and the T’s have to be crossed,” Rigsby said before he went home to Indiana without his company’s zip line, leaving Thor Equities to work out the details of the permit to take it down this week. (It was finally dismantled and trucked away.)

Still wanna zip line in New York City? Last year, a 160-foot portable zip line was added to the Summer Streets Program, run by the City’s DOT. Locations included Union Square and Foley Square in Manhattan. The annual event is on three consecutive Saturdays in the summer. The zip line was offered free of charge and was very popular. Will it be back this year?

 

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August 19, 2012: BK Festival Vendors Back in Business, Coney Zipline Isn’t

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

August 5, 2012: Coney Island Zip Line Still Under Construction

June 28, 2012: Zip Line Coming to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue in July

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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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Open from 2pm : Coney Island Zipline at BK Festival. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

After umpteen updates to our original post “Zip Line Coming to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue in July” (June 28, 2012), ATZ tweeted on Wednesday…

Happily it’s true, the Coney Island Zipline is officially open for business. After a soft opening last night, ten customers had tried it out when we talked to manager James Wilcox a little while ago. “Hell, yeah, I’m ecstatic,” said Wilcox, who has been on site, but not open for business since July due to paperwork issues with City agencies. “I’m ecstatic that we got our green card,” he said, explaining that the all-important permit saying they’re allowed to open is a green piece of paper.

“It’s $15 to ride on weekends,” said Wilcox, who noted that groups can get a discount. In addition, members of New York City’s Police and Fire Departments and EMS may ride for $10 with ID. Wilcox says they planned to offer this discount on September 11th, but will instead offer it for the duration of the season. “We hope to stay till October 31,” he added. (Saturday Update: After seeing on Cat5’s Facebook page that the cover price is $25, we phoned Wilcox for clarification. He said The $15 price is available this weekend, as well as to people who come in with CAT5 Zipline’s flier or mention reading about the zipline on this blog.)

The posted hours for the Coney Island Zipline are 2pm till midnight 10pm, though hours of operation may vary. The Zipline is located on Stillwell Avenue behind Nathan’s.

FINAL UPDATE: The ride was open for a day and a half before being closed by the City for permit issues and will not reopen. On October 8th, ATZ received an email from the BK Festival operators which said: “After a very long and difficult process the city still didn’t issue the permit needed to operate the zip line.”

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April 30, 2013: Exclusive: Coney Island Zip Line to Be Dismantled Today

August 19, 2012: BK Festival Vendors Back in Business, Coney Zipline Isn’t

August 5, 2012: Coney Island Zip Line Still Under Construction

June 28, 2012: Zip Line Coming to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue in July

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Stillwell Avenue West

BK Festival Vendors and Zipline, Stillwell Avenue West, Coney Island. August 18, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Saturday, the BK Festival vendors were happy to be back in business selling sunglasses, hats, dresses and what have you after a two-week hiatus caused by the construction of the Coney Island Zipline. The Stillwell Avenue lot where their tents are pitched was no longer a construction site because the zipline is built, though it did not open for the weekend.

Why not? A zipline crew member told ATZ one of the required permits had not been applied for and blamed the festival management. One of the vendors said the zipline would never open because Mayor Bloomberg had his own and didn’t want any competition! Was he referring to the free zipline at the City’s Summer Streets, which ended on August 18th? Does that mean another vendor’s prediction that Coney’s zipline would open next weekend is true? We probably should have asked Ana, the BK Festival’s resident psychic.

If you’re rarin’ to go ziplining in Coney Island, watch magicalthemepark’s video below of the ride being tested several days ago and wish you were there.

UPDATE September 12, 2012

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August 14, 2012: Opening Soon? Zipline, Tom’s Coney Island, Place to Beach Bar

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

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

June 28, 2012: Zip Line Coming to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue in July

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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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Coney Island Zip LineThis summer in Coney Island may be remembered as the year people harnessed up and took flight over the upturned heads of astonished visitors. Scream Zone’s 110-foot-tall SkyCoaster, which debuted in May as “Boardwalk Flight,” has riders soaring out over the Boardwalk. Next month, Patrick Ingram of Category 5 Ziplines plans to install a 60-foot-high, 400-foot-long zip line in Coney Island that will let riders glide in the sky over Stillwell Avenue.

“I’m a skydiver who has taught people how to skydive without jumping out of airplanes,” says Ingram, owner of Michigan-based Category 5 Productions. “I started with wind tunnels twelve years ago. It evolved into zip lines over the past three years.” Coney Island Zip Line is expected to open July 21st with four stationary zip lines.

Ingram tells ATZ that the starting point will be just beyond the new MegaWhirl ride in Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park on the east side of Stillwell. The zip line will traverse Stillwell Avenue, with its ending point being on the other side of the BK Festival’s vendors behind Nathan’s Famous! “It’s a little longer than your typical zip line, which is 200 to 300 feet,” he says. The ride itself is about 25 seconds but the entire experience from the time the rider gets into the harness is 15 to 20 minutes.

Ingram says that he has installed and operated zip lines at college events as well as last year’s Oshkosh Air Show. In addition to Coney Island, Category 5 Ziplines are planned for Miami and Alabama’s Gulf Shore this year. An ad on New York’s Craigslist is seeking a crew of eight to ten to help operate the Coney Island Zip Line. Says Ingram, “We expect to be there in the next couple of weeks, putting the rigging together and getting the staff trained.”

Coney Island Zip Line

Originally planned to open on July 1, the zip line’s debut has been rescheduled for July 21 due to paperwork delays. “It’s taken a bit longer than we thought to get the engineering drawings required for this project,” says Ingram, who adds that everyone he’s working with in New York City is excited about the zip line.

An introductory special on Pinchit offering 50 per cent off regular prices expires today, but he plans to offer similar deals via Living Social and Groupon. The regular price will be $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends, with a $100 All-Day Zip Pass including an express line. Customers must weigh between 85 and 230 pounds, wear closed toe shoes and sign a waiver.

UPDATE September 14, 2012

The abandoned zipline was finally dismantled and trucked away in May of 2013! Exclusive: Coney Island Zip Line to Be Dismantled Today (ATZ, April 30, 2013)

UPDATE September 14, 2012

Long-Delayed Coney Island Zipline Is Officially Open!
PS: Please read this post and news updates in comments before coming out to ride!

UPDATE August 5, 2012

Coney Island Zip Line Still Under Construction, ATZ, August 5, 2012.

UPDATE July 31, 2012

The zip line is currently being assembled by a crew of about 17 or 18 people! It is being set up behind Nathan’s and runs from the Bowery and Stillwell Avenue to West 15th Street.

UPDATE July 22, 2012

BK Festival spokesman William McCarthy responded to an email query that we sent today: “Working on permits – I will give you positive update as soon as we get through process.”

UPDATE July 21, 2012

The zip line was nowhere to be found today. It wasn’t set up in Coney Island. Rumor on the street is it won’t be opening, but we can’t confirm it. The person who was set to be the on-site manager of the operation did not return calls for comment.

UPDATE July 15, 2012

On Saturday in Coney Island flyers along Stillwell Avenue advertised interviews for jobs working the zip line. Mark Zientek, operations manager at Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park, told ATZ that the zip line is expected to arrive in Coney Island on Wednesday. He said the zip line will be located on the west side of Stillwell Avenue in the BK Festival lot behind Nathan’s. It will not traverse Stillwell Avenue as originally planned by the operator.

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August 19, 2012: BK Festival Vendors Back in Business, Coney Zipline Isn’t

June 15, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Guide to Free Summer Events in Coney Island

February 24, 2012: Summer Jobs: From Coney Island to the Carnival Midway

April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!

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