The Coney Island amusement park will postpone its opening because of the coronavirus outbreak, officials announced Friday.
“In response to the evolving circumstances around COVID-19 and in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, we at Luna Park in Coney Island have made the decision to postpone our opening day until further notice,” said representatives at Central Amusement International, Inc., a corporation that operates Luna Park, the Scream Zone, the Cyclone, and many surrounding shops.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park will also delay its April 4 opening — dealing a tough blow to its owners, who were planning to celebrate the Wonder Wheel’s 100th anniversary.
“We saw the writing on the wall a couple of weeks ago,” said Dennis Vourderis, who owns and operates the wheel and its adjacent amusement park with his brother, Steve. “Of course, we have to take into consideration what’s going on in the world. It’s not about us right now.”
The indefinite closure of the amusement district will inevitably hurt the seasonal businesses in the area that rely on the park’s attractions for revenue, said a local business advocate.
“The consequences of not being able to make the amount of money that stores in Coney Island make from April onward is going to be detrimental to the community,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island.
The postponement comes as many Coney Island businesses are already struggling to survive due to the area’s seasonal economy and rising rents. The People’s Playground has double the average New York City vacancy rate, with nearly 16-percent of storefronts sitting empty, according to a city report.
To make matters worse, the MTA announced last month that it would suspend F train service between Church and Stillwell Avenues on most weekends this summer and through the end of 2020, and will replace the trains with free shuttle bus service. Business leaders slammed the decision, claiming that the suspension would lessen ridership and weaken the local economy.
Transit officials are postponing the start of construction along the F line, which was slated to begin on March 20, but will reevaluate the start date once the threat of the virus has passed, the MTA announced.
However, Luna Park and Deno’s have no choice but to postpone the start of the season, since the city ordered on March 15 that all entertainment venues close. On March 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented a state-wide “stay at home” order, which requires all non-essential businesses to shutter.
Still, Vourderis said that the Wonder Wheel’s 100th anniversary celebration is still on for May 23 should conditions improve. And now, the party will celebrate not only the wheel’s centennial, but also the end of the coronavirus threat.
“We want to open up with a celebration, not under these circumstances,” he said. “We’re thinking positively and looking forward to a post-pandemic party.”