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New Cyclone operator pledges major rehab

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The company charged with recreating Coney Island has just been named to operate one of the oldest attractions left: the Cyclone.

Central Amusement, which also owns Luna Park across the street, has been picked by the city to run the aging roller-coaster this year. The company says it invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate it.

“We don’t know how much it’s going to cost,” company president Valerio Ferrari told NY1. “We know the ride requires some repair, but once we will do tests, we will figure it out.” The city says it will still consider other bids for a long-term operator, but is giving Central Amusement control so that the coaster can open on time for the season on April 16.

The city did not respond to a request for comment about how much Central Amusement will pay to run the Cyclone.

The Parks Department announced last year that it would replace Carol Albert, whose family has operated the iconic wooden coaster since 1976, with a new operator who would upgrade the 83-year-old coaster into a year-long attraction.

Central Amusement proved its skills as a thrill ride operator last May by opening Luna Park, the first new amusement area to open in the hard-luck “People’s Playground” in almost 50 years. The company will also open a new amusement zone this April called Scream Zone, complete with a roller coaster modeled after the classic Steeplechase ride, according to park officials.

But the Cyclone’s temporary operator has also been a source of Coney controversy. The company is currently locked in an eviction battle with longtime Boardwalk businesses including Ruby’s Bar and Grill. Central Amusement’s workers even illegally bulldozed the Shoot the Freak concession, one of the evicted establishments, in December. And its Cyclone takeover has been rumored for months. The Coney Island History Project even moved its storefront from the base of the thrill ride to Deno’s Wonder Wheel because it was concerned that the new developer would not renew its lease.

The museum’s Executive Director Charles Denson declined to comment on this latest development. But not all Coney Island preservationists fear Central Amusement’s conquest of the legendary thrill ride, which cannot be torn down because of its landmarked status.

“They’re the right people to run it because they operate Luna Park right across the street,” said Dick Zigun, who operates the Coney Island Sideshow out of the recently landmarked former Childs restaurant on Surf Avenue. “And the fact that they plan on putting a couple of hundred of thousand into it makes me smile.”

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Reader Feedback

Ted from Brighton says:
This article tries to make it sound like Luna Park grabbed the Cyclone in a corporate takeover of Coney Island. You should watch NY1 and get your facts straight. Park Dept had to find a new operator because the Alberts were losing money on it since Astroland closed. It said they wanted to give the lease to Luna Park. I'm happy the Cyclone can be part of a wristband again.
Jan. 23, 2011, 9:37 am
BrooklynBUM from Coney island says:
You know what!!! this whole thing has been a series of land grabs and bad deals, starting under Ghouliani and continuing till this day under Mayor for life Mike, and Marty, Dominic, and all the other claimed reps of the people of Coney are just as bad as they make their retirement deals,

Their is little if no coney left in coney, it started with the tearing down of the thunderbolt and continues to this day,

lets just paint it all white pipe in "Its a small world" and close at ten pm, What coney needed was a serious preservation a decade ago, not a redevelopment,

Jan. 23, 2011, 11:06 am
Luis from Bronx says:
I think it's interesting that everything happening in Coney Island turns into a conspiracy theory. My dad used to take me to coney island as a child and now to see the beginning of redevelopment would seem like a good thing. As the improvements continue I eagerly anticipate a cleaner more vibrant coney island. It's seems that some of the locals are opposed to change almost in the same mind set as those seen on "Hoarders" on A&E. They like it the way it is yet it's unlivable. I for one am happy to see the huge investment that Central Amusement has made since no other has done so in 50 years. Luna Park, the new Scream Zone, the Cyclone, and the boardwalk Concessions should be one entity to provide a great experience for all visitors new and old. I don't understand the idea of wanting to hold onto "Shoot the Freak" which looks like an abandoned lot full of graffiti, or restaurants that offer the same things repeatedly along the boardwalk. Variety is good! Clean establishments are good! Moving in a new era of entertainment, creating new jobs in coney island, and steadily continuing the redevelopment of the amusements is GOOD! As long as a selected few elements of Coney Island can be preserved and the new elements reflective of the past I am all for the NEW CONEY ISLAND!
Jan. 23, 2011, 3:27 pm
nancy from coney says:
im all for redevelopment but at what cost they torre down the old building that were there in the 1800s early 1900s that could have been used for good things.the only reason they were torn down is cause sitt didnt get what he wanted,also the board walk consessions like rubys that have been there since the 30s the old could have coexhisted with the new.and by the way where is the band b carousel that has supposongly being renovated for the last 8 yrs how long does that take, and where is the astroland rocket
Jan. 23, 2011, 7 pm
rod from brooklyn says:
could you possibly skew this piece a bit more?

ms. albert announced she was giving up on the cyclone because the numbers just didn't make sense...........she herself thought central amusement was the right company to run it.

sloppy work, brooklyn paper. you're making it sound so sinister.
Jan. 24, 2011, 8:24 am
judahSpechal from Bed-stuy says:
I'm glad for Coney Island rebirth, but I would have liked to see the operator work with the people that help sustained this place while the city didn't cre instead of evicting them in the manner they did. Total injustice! I can't support that until they make it right with these operators they are evicting.
Jan. 24, 2011, 10:20 am
Adam says:
I just went to Coney Island yesterday and rode the incredible coaster. as usual it was great, but i noticed a bunch of different things. First the ticket booth had a list of prices for luna park ride credits and to get on you had to use a luna card to get on. Second when i got on I didnt see gerry who had been operating it for over 30 years, i then asked one of the operators where gerry was and the employee who had been working at the cyclone for a while told me "he retired." so I asked him why and he said "these jack ass luna park people practically payed him to retire so they can run it and ruin what was good about it." I completely agreed with what he said once the ride was over and i asked another operator for a re-ride and he said i had to get off and buy another ticket instead of the cheaper re-ride option they alwas had it ended up costing me $16 to ride twice, which is a complete ripoff. luna park seriously ruined what was great about the cyclone (the prices, the lack of roughness because of a rehab, and just the coney island feel of it.)
Sept. 2, 2011, 7:50 pm

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