Zamperla, the company that runs Luna Park, has won the city's bid to add lights to the famed parachute jump at Coney Island. The company has released video of what the ride would look like if the lighting plan goes through.
The proposal is set to go before the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission on December 11.
If approved, the lights are expected to be installed and turned on by next summer.
Coney Island’s landmark Parachute Jump is finally getting its “bling.”
The city’s Economic Development Corp. has tapped the seaside neighborhood’s biggest amusement operator to fulfill Borough President Marty Markowitz’s vision of overhauling the 262-foot-tall structure’s lackluster lighting system with more “bling” so it could become Brooklyn’s “Eiffel Tower.”
Zamperla USA – which runs Luna Park and other attractions – was selected to install 8,000 colored LED lights across the Parachute Jump that will be programmable for shows and special events with music.
“The Parachute Jump will finally have enough ‘bling’ to be visible even from outer space,” crowed Markowitz, who secured $2 million in city funding for the project.
The new lighting proposal is set to go before city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Dec. 11 for final blessing.
If approved, the lights are expected to be installed and running by next summer, city officials said.
“With this new lighting design, the Parachute Jump will become a beacon for the neighborhood and show that Coney Island will not only recover from Hurricane Sandy, but continue its revitalization into New York’s premier oceanfront destination,” said EDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov.
The current lighting system, created by renowned lighting artist Leni Schwendinger, was installed in 2006.
But Markowitz was so unimpressed with it – he thought it was too “artsy,” and needed “blinging up” to capture Coney Island’s flash – that he convinced the mayor and City Council in 2008 to set aside $2 million to bring a new lighting system to long-inoperable ride.
The Parachute Jump is a former ride from the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens that was relocated to Coney Island in 1941. It ceased operations in 1968 and was declared a city landmark in 1989. It is part of a revamped Steeplechase Plaza that the city is hoping to create.
Many of Coney Island's businesses and attractions plan to be open by the spring, but a full recovery of the popular seaside amusement area from superstorm Sandy's wallop may take longer to complete.
Some changes, like fewer bumper cars at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, would go largely unnoticed. Others, like the potential scrubbing of the Mermaid Parade in June, could disappoint half a million visitors and cost area businesses one of the most profitable days of the year.
Amusement operators are now spending millions to repair, restore and replace equipment swamped by a storm surge as high as 14 feet. Many attraction operators have committed to opening March 24 -- Palm Sunday -- said Dennis Vourderis, board chair for the Alliance for Coney Island and who co-owns Deno's with his brother Steve. "We are moving forward," Vourderis said. "It's having faith in Coney Island because it's a magical place."
Some attractions may not come back as quickly, he said. The New York Aquarium, for example, has yet to set a reopening date. "I understand financial constraints, but the general consensus is that Coney Island will open on time in March," he said.
'Aggressive' repair schedule
More than 10 million people visited Coney Island Beach between Memorial and Labor days last year, according to the city parks department.
During the 2012 season, which ended just before Sandy struck, 759,000 visitors flocked to family-oriented Luna Park and the thrill-ride Scream Zone, and 2.6 million rides were taken, said Ben Branham, a spokesman for the city Department of Economic Development.
The two parks sustained heavy electrical and equipment damages, while the landmark Cyclone roller coaster weathered the Oct. 29 storm, said Nicole Purmal, spokeswoman for Central Amusement International, which operates them. "No matter what, there's a deep financial gulp that we have to take right now," she said. About 400 employees work during the season at the three properties. Purmal would not give an estimate of Central Amusement's storm damages, but said the company is working with its insurer. Engineers from Italy-based ride manufacturer Zamperla arrived from Europe last month to assess the equipment, she said. "We've put an aggressive schedule together for repair and recovery," Purmal said. "Our goal is to try to get everything operational by Palm Sunday (March 24)."
The boardwalk is open, but the Steeplechase Pier remains shut for repairs. Another Coney Island cornerstone, Nathan's Famous, will be back by March or April, said Wayne Norbitz, president and chief operating officer. "No one wants to reopen more than me," he said. Nathan's has two Coney Island venues -- the flagship restaurant on Surf Avenue, and a boardwalk outpost, drawing more than a million visitors a year. The flagship was under more than 5 feet of water and must replace all its electrical and cooking equipment, sales registers and a portion of the original counter from 1916. But the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest will "absolutely" take place, he said -- "I'd probably get shot otherwise."
Hope to reopen mainstays
Less certain for 2013 is the annual Mermaid Parade in June. It is run by the nonprofit Coney Island USA, which houses the Coney Island Museum and a live theater, on West 12th Street, and plans to reopen Memorial Day after rebuilding from $450,000 in damage. "We want to do our 31st Annual Mermaid Parade, but I could see the logic of taking the year off and not overwhelming our staff and budget," said Coney Island USA'S executive artistic director, Dick Zigun. It costs more than $100,000 to stage and is usually largely sponsored by area businesses.
June will see the return of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Their stadium, MCU Park, offices, fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo rooms and dugouts were flooded, and a decision will be made by spring whether the playing field sod needs to be completely replaced before the 2013 season begins, spokesman Billy Harner said. General manager Steve Cohen said the staff will work from temporary offices outside the stadium while repairs are made.
Deno's aims to reopen March 24, said Steve Vourderis, the maintenance manager, and "so far we're on schedule." The iconic 1920 Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel survived Sandy. Other attractions, including the Spook-A-Rama ride, must be rebuilt.
Earlier this month, his team began reassembling the Thunderbolt ride, whose cars were submerged in toxic stormwater and required emergency power washing. "We can't store the ride unless we know it will work in the spring, so we have to set it back up to be tested," Steve Vourderis said.
Another favorite, the 93-year-old Grandma's Predictions fortune teller, was shipped upstate for expert restoration after Sandy swamped storage areas where vintage objects were kept. Of 25 damaged bumper cars, 20 will be replaced at a total cost of $110,000.
Another area mainstay, Eldorado Auto Skooter and Arcade, is assessing $200,000 in damages as owner Gordon Lee discusses lease renewal with landlord Thor Equities. Thor chief executive Joseph Sitt said, "They'll be back" next season, but did not elaborate on current talks.
Visitors will have both familiar and new places to eat. The landmark Gargiulo's Restaurant reopened Dec. 1 after sustaining more than $2 million in damage, according to co-owner Nino Russo.
An Applebee's is planned in 12,000-square-foot space at 1217 Surf Ave. in May, said Zane Tankel, who owns dozens of franchises in that chain.
Johnny Rockets, the 1950s diner theme chain at 1223 Surf Ave., is planning in 2014 to open a $1.5 million, 6,000-square-foot restaurant next door, with an additional 2,000 square feet for expansion. The owner, Rahman Hashimi, is upbeat about Coney's future. "I might do another brand, as yet undecided, something related to a food and drink," he said.
A newcomer, Tom's Restaurant, opened on the boardwalk in September as a year-round venue and was a meeting spot for Sandy-related assistance groups. Owner Jimmy Kokotas said it was a "godsend" that the venue, a $1 million investment, had only about $8,000 in damage. He plans to stay open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the winter and extend hours in the spring. Until then, Kokotas said, he will be satisfied just to pay his workers and electric bill.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
I stopped by Coney Island on the way home yesterday. The area is still recovering as many shops on Surf Avenue are still closed including Nathan's. Even the McDonald's 3 blocks from the boardwalk is still boarded up. But I still took a few pictures.
Opening Date is still Palm Sunday. March 24th.
The troubled Mega Whirl, latest word on the street is that it suffered severe saltwater damage and will not run again.
Work continues on the B&B Carousell.
As usual, my analysis is free of charge! Original enough to not steal someone else's quote as a signature
With the Coney Island amusement season coming up, workers are busy spending the winter trying to salvage rides before the Brooklyn landmark's new season begins. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
Amusement park workers recently stood on the steep drop of the Cyclone, as they laid down 600 feet of new track for the famed roller coaster. Others inspected the motors of cars on Luna Park rides.
The Coney Island season starts in less than 10 weeks, but there is more than just winter maintenance being done there. They also need to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy.
"We have to dedicate all of our time to be re-opened by March," said Alberto Zamperla, the CEO of Luna Park.
Sandy hit at the end of last season so it did not disrupt park operations at the time. But it left plenty of destruction behind, mostly in the park's mechanical and electrical systems.
About five feet of water flooded motors and switches and much was ruined and rusted.
"When you open an electrical cabinet and water poured out of it, that's bad," said Valerio Ferrari, the president of Luna Park.
The storm caused about $8 millon worth of damage. All the mechanical and electrical systems are now being removed and replaced.
"Change all the electrical, test it and make sure that everything is going to work perfectly," said Zamperla.
The goal is to be ready for the traditional Palm Sunday opening, which this year falls on March 24.
Luna Park officials say they will add three new rides, including -- believe it or not -- a water ride.
"This Water Mania ride will be the first time seeing it in the world," said Ferrari.
Also new to Coney Island this season is the historic B&B Carousel opening on the boardwalk and a new lighting system for the Parachute Jump.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
The MegaWhirl, a prototype that came all the way from a Texas ride factory to debut in Coney Island, will be scrapped if a new home is not found for it soon. MegaWhirl inventor Jonathan Gordon of Gordon Rides contacted ATZ with the sad news: “Just thought you should know, I’ve been working on trying to relocate the MegaWhirl, but the damage from the storm surge has made it almost impossible. If I can’t find anyone to take the ride by the end of next week, the MegaWhirl will be demolished as per the demands of Thor Equities.” For Gordon, who signed his email, “(former) CEO/Lead Designer, GordonRides LLC,” Hurricane Sandy capped off a Coney Island season that had already been a financial disaster and bankrupted his business.
Well, I rode the MegaWhirl in the factory, and it was pretty terrible. It was slow and super loud. The way the cars were pulled around was strange. The guy that designed it was an ACEr that made up his own company, I'm pretty sure...
LOL I just watched the video in that article and you can see me sitting in the green car quite a few times, not too amused.
The MegaWhirl was honestly not that great...
What? You are an ACER?
Top Coasters in America: 1. Bizarro 2. El Toro 3. Beast 4. Former Son of Beast (No Joke- if you got the right seat!) 5. New Texas Giant
These pages are in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Cedar Fair, Legoland, Merlin Entertainment, Blackstone, Tussaud's Group, Six Flags, Universal Theme Parks, the Walt Disney Company or any other theme park company.
photos and videos on this website were taken with the permission of the park by
a professional ride photographer.
For yours and others safety, please do not attempt to take photos or videos at
parks without proper permission.
You need a sense of humor to view our site,
if you don't have a sense of humor, or are easily offended, please turn back
Most of the content on this forum is suitable for all ages. HOWEVER! There may be some content that would be considered rated "PG-13." Theme Park Review is NOT recommended for ages under 13 years of age.