Coney Island’s spring season kicked off this weekend, and it was the classic attractions that saw most of the action.
The People’s Playground has experienced more ups and downs in recent years than roller coaster riders, but on Sunday, crowds still flocked to the landmark Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the 83-year-old Cyclone for their opening day deals: The iconic wooden coaster gave its fans an inaugural free ride, while the 91-year-old ferris wheel gave a half-price whirl to the first 100 people in line. And it wouldn’t be a Coney opening without the blessing of the rides, delivered by Pastor Debbe Santiago of the Salt and Sea Mission on Mermaid Avenue.
“These rides have been here since the 1920s and are part of the fabric that makes up Coney Island,” said Wonder Wheel co-owner Dennis Vourderis. “It’s nice how Coney Island integrates the old and new.”
In addition to the legendary rides, the Boardwalk businesses that battled eviction last year returned to their storefronts.
Their agreement with landlord Central Amusement stipulates that they have to be out by November, but that didn’t stop dive bar Ruby’s from sprucing up its interior with a fresh coat of paint and new bar top, according to a WNYC report .
Luna Park, the Central Amusement-run theme park that opened last year, was the most recently built attraction to open this weekend, and one of a few to brave through Saturday’s storm. Luna Park’s standout thrill rides include the Brooklyn Flyer, which allows visitors to swing across the sky, 100 feet above Luna Park, and The Tickler, a twisting coaster with surprising curves and rapid-fire drops.
While the old-school may have dominated opening weekend, Central Amusement will bring new tricks with the April 21 opening of Scream Zone. The theme park will feature four new rides, including one called the Slingshot that will shoot riders straight up into the air.
But some longtime Coney favorites won’t be around for the new season: the Siren Music Festival is being moved out to a neighboring borough. And last month, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus decided to fold up its tents after a two-year run along the Boardwalk.