Saturday, May 29, 2010 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the long and eventful history of Coney Island, on the southernmost tip of Brooklyn. On that day Luna Park, beautifully designed by the Italian designer Zamperla, with 19 new rides, opened its gates on the grounds that used to be home to Astroland, the now defunct amusement park which over the years fell into disuse and disrepair.
The opening Memorial Day weekend saw an astronomical rise in business for the surrounding shops and attractions. It was estimated that more than 40,000 rides were enjoyed over the weekend which, according to Alberto Zamperla the park operator, “far exceeded our projections for opening weekend.” Adjacent businesses reported a 30% to 40% rise in business since last year’s Memorial Day weekend. Carol Hill Albert, the operator of the famous Cyclone Roller Coaster, which is right next door, said that, “This was an incredible weekend for us,” adding that her profits were also up about 40%.
Although Luna Park takes its name from the beloved amusement park which was opened in Coney Island in 1903 but was destroyed in an electrical, 10 alarm fire in 1944 while an estimated 750,000 people watched from the nearby Coney Island beach, this new Luna Park is composed of 19 “state of the art” rides which were built in only 100 days. Combining the most modern rides with the old favorites, the Cyclone, a wooden roller coaster built in 1927, and the Wonder Wheel, a 150 foot high giant Ferris wheel, built in 1920, both New York Landmarks, the new park is hoping to achieve a uniqueness not found in other modern, amusement parks.
For one thing, it is not too far away. You can get there by subway, or even taxi, making it a perfect fun summer destination for anyone living in New York City. Another unique feature is that the rides will not require a second mortgage to fund the visit for a normal sized family with a few kids. Rides are advertised to cost between $3 and $7 a ride.
There are plans to add an additional attraction, scheduled to open next summer, called The Scream Zone. Hopefully, and if the Memorial Day weekend success can be any indication, the new Coney Island will help local businesses, New York tourism, and families and others, by helping create a more fun, and modern amusement park that has not forgotten its special, and in many ways, glorious past. Good luck to Coney Island, Luna Park, Brooklyn and New York.