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Posts Tagged ‘Zoltar’

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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Related Posts on ATZ…

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

February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

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Zoltar Speaks, First Prize for Motorized Float in the 2009 Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Zoltar Speaks, First Prize for Motorized Float in the 2009 Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

From the reviewing stand at the Mermaid Parade, I snapped this photo of an amazing one-man float inspired by the fortune telling machine in the movie Big. After reading the post-parade discussion on the Coney Island message board, I realized that “Zoltar Speaks” was the same guy who created the popular “Pirate on the Segway” for the 2008 parade.

Last June, Jonathan Gleich won third place for motorized float (with no bribe because “I was new and didn’t know the rules LOL,” he says). He got hooked. A few weeks after last year’s parade, Jonathan started working on a Segway powered float for the 2009 event. Advance planning, hard work and an exquisite bribe–two bottles of Crystal Head vodka packed in shredded cash– paid off. Zoltar won first place in the Mermaid Parade’s motorized float category. Congrats to Jonathan and his alter egos for winning two years in a row!

After discovering Jonathan’s fabulous Zoltar Speaks website and flickr set documenting the project, which included an elaborate “dress rehearsal” in Coney Island a few weeks before the parade, we asked Jonathan/Zoltar to do a Q & A. How could we resist? The website drew us in: “Welcome Traveler, Zoltar Knows Why You Are Here. You Seek More Information…”

Zoltar says:  This is my publicity picture. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Zoltar says: "This is my 'publicity' picture. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Q: How did you get the idea to do a Zoltar float for the Mermaid Parade?

A: I am a Segway enthusiast and use my Segway to commute to my office in midtown Manhattan most nice days and have made friends with other Segway people across the country. One of those people is Chris Johnson in Ashland, Oregon. He is the one who came up with the idea of putting a Zoltar on a Segway (I have a picture of him on my website in the thank you section). He knew about my pirate Segway and was teasing me how I would top it, and I said “Hey I’m gonna steal YOUR idea. A fortune teller is PERFECT for Coney island” and as they say, That’s how it Started!

Zoltar in front of Stillwell Station on Mermaid Parade Day in Coney Island. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Zoltar in front of Stillwell Station on Mermaid Parade Day in Coney Island. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Q: How long have you been working on it? I seem to remember you saying (on the CIUSA board) that you started as soon as the 2008 parade was over!

A: They say idle hands are the devil’s work, so I must be an angel! I started on Zoltar just about a month after the Mermaid Parade. I had such a great time at the parade, and had such good response to my Pirate costume, that I was really enthused.

Here is a ‘log’ of progress. Chris recommended I track both the cost and the time…

History:
7/20/08 – Ordered base Plates
7/23/08 – Plates done – First Rev added Posts
7/23/08 – Started tracking expenses
1/17/09 – Wiring done – disassembled waiting on material
1/25/09 – Front of Zoltar completed
2/8/09 – Zoltar work continues
3/15/09 – 98% complete last 12 things left to do
4/12/09 – First outside test with Phil, windy, minor problems
5/2/09 – Fixed most of the problems found on the outside test
5/15/09 – Completed all exterior work on Zoltar (moldings / etc)
6/1/09 – down to the last 6 items, test 2 today.
6/7/09 – Boardwalk test – dress rehearsal

And before you ask… I spent $4000 total on Zoltar (from soup to nuts)

Zoltar: This is a Before and After shot, of the pieces that make up Zoltar.  Photo ©  Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

"Zoltar: This is a Before and After Shot of the Pieces that Make Up Zoltar." Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Q: What is the history of the Zoltar machine? Where was it located in Coney Island?

Zoltar is a Fortune telling machine from the movie “BIG” – it actually is based on a ‘Zoltan’ machine, a 1940’s mechanical fortune telling machine. A company in Nevada produces a Zoltar machine now and they’re all over the country. I grew up in Brighton Beach and spent many many, many days in Coney Island at Faber’s and at the Skee Ball place on Mermaid Ave (long gone) right next to the carousal (long gone). Coney Island has always been arcade and carnivals and scary rides (and sometimes scary people).

An original Zoltar machine. Photo by jonathan_gleich @ flickr

An original Zoltar machine. Photo by jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Q: What is your background? Are you an artist or woodworker? It looks like an incredible piece of craftsmanship.

A: THANK YOU! – I am a computer geek by trade (I am the IT director for a children’s clothing manufacturer). But the fact is i have little experience or knowledge in making and designing and woodworking. Electronics and tech is my real talent. BUT I love a challenge and that’s what Zoltar was to me. Give me 1000 problems, and let me solve them! – That is why it took so long and so much money. Chris built his in 2 days with the help of a Hollywood prop guy. He sent me pictures and dimensions of his Zoltar and that gave me the foundation to work from.

Zoltars Trial Run on the Boardwalk a few weeks before the Mermaid Parade. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Zoltar's Trial Run on the Boardwalk a few weeks before the Mermaid Parade. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Q: I notice in the photos that you did a trial run in Coney on June 7th. How did it go?

A: The dress rehearsal went great, but nothing like taking your show before a live audience. I discovered problems–say design flaws— that I never even thought about. It also was a great opportunity to see what I look like. You always have a image in your mind. But the camera sees a whole different image!

Q: Did you tell fortunes? Any anecdotes from that day?

A: I consider myself to be a funny person with a quick wit, and looked forward to the challenge of being asked to tell a fortune, or to flirt using Zoltar as my ploy – my best retort was a kid ran up to me and yelled “I WANNA BE BIG” – I replied (in my Zoltar booming voice) YOUR WISH IS GRANTED. His mother looked at me, and I said in a slightly lower voice “BUT IT WILL TAKE 15 YEARS FOR YOUR WISH TO BE GRANTED.” Everyone laughed.

Zoltar at Nathans on Mermaid Parade Day. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Zoltar at Nathan's on Mermaid Parade Day. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

The weirdest reaction was that people wanted their fortunes told, seriously wanted them. I said “I’m not friggin miss cleo” that really shocked me, that some people took my get up seriously!

The other thing was the nastiness of some people, a woman tried to knock me over. She thought I was standing and pushing it on a dolly and it would be a laugh. The Segway compensated for the sudden lurch, but I and others could have been been hurt badly and that never came into her consideration. I added a “spotter” with me for the parade.

Q; What are your plans for Zoltar now that the parade is over?

A: I try and use the costumes for two parades— The Mermaid Parade and the Village Halloween Parade. Zoltar has lights and electronics that weren’t even seen during the day, so the Zoltar at night is a whole different experience.

Zoltar at Night on Coney Islands Boardwalk. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Zoltar at Night on Coney Island's Boardwalk. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Q: Where do you store it?

A: I live in a house and have a basement full of old projects. But I think that Zoltar will end up in my living room with a mannequin wearing my costume and being my own personal fortune teller

Q: Are you available for appearances?

A; I have been already approached by a professional photographer to do a studio session with Zoltar. A zoo in Staten Island has a haunted week during Halloween and asked me to be there. So what’s next for Zoltar? Who knows? Maybe Jimmy Kimmel? Maybe America’s Most Wanted!

Zoltar on Mermaid Parade Day in Coney Island. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Zoltar on Mermaid Parade Day in Coney Island. Photo © Phil Yee via jonathan_gleich @ flickr

Visit the “Zoltar Speaks” website to view videos of Zoltar at the Mermaid Parade and info on hiring him for special events

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Related posts on ATZ…

June 16, 2011: Last Chance to See Mermaid Parade Before It Turns 30!

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

June 19, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Mermaid Parade Three-Time “Best Mermaid” Kate Dale

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