Coney Island in for a new ride this summer

The biggest things to hit Coney Island last summer were Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus elephants. This year it’ll be thrill rides from an Italian outfit called Zamperla.

The city was poised to ink a deal with the international ride manufacturer at the time of this writing, bringing with it a whole new spate of rides to three sites inside the amusement district beginning this summer.

Zamperla currently operates Minitalia Leolandia Amusement Park In Capriate San Gervasio, Italy, as well as Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park. They refused to comment.

With the deal, Coney Island could be flush with rides for the next 10 years, during which time the city will continue its greater effort to reimagine the famed “People’s Playground” for the 21st century.

Zamperla was seen early on as the frontrunner in the city’s search for an interim-park operator for Coney Island.

”Zamperla will certainly do a terrific job for Coney Island,” said Carol Hill Albert, operator of the now defunct Astroland Amusement Park. “They are highly regarded and have beautifully designed rides.”

Astroland shut down last year after almost a half century in operation, but Albert continues to oversee operation of the world famous Cyclone roller-coaster at Surf Avenue and West 10th Street.

“It’ll be great for the Cyclone,” Albert said.

The Coney Island mainstay says she considered applying for the city’s Request for Proposals, but ultimately decided against it.

“To be up and running in only six weeks, unless you are a major ride manufacturer, you can’t do it,” Albert told this newspaper.

According to Albert, the 22 Astroland rides that have been in storage since last year will finally be sold.

But while Astroland may be history, the iconic Astro Tower will remain in Coney Island – at least through the summer of 2010.

“Removal of the Astrotower (currently inoperable) is not part of the Improvements designated for summer 2010,” New York City Economic Development Corporation spokesperson David Lombino said.

The city says it has designated about $6.65 million in capital funds preparing the old Astroland site and two other parcels for their new tenant.

“We anticipate a substantial investment to be made by the private sector operator that will be selected to operate on the former Astroland site as well as the two additional sites designated in the RFP,” Lombino said.

Those three sites comprise about six acres of Coney Island real estate stretching from West 10th and West 15th streets between Surf Avenue and the boardwalk.

While it remains to be seen what exactly Zamperla has in store for Coney Island, Albert says she hopes they’ll consider taking on former Astroland workers.

“A lot of my workers were very interested in what happens,” Albert said. “They love the business and hope that Zamperla would take advantage of that.”