Last February, the city took a major step toward the revitalization of Coney Island when they designated Central Amusement International to develop and operate a number of properties in the historic amusement district, with an eye toward transforming the neighborhood into a thriving, year-round seaside destination. The first phase of this transformation was realized in May with the opening of the new Luna Park on the vacant former site of Astroland.
When Astroland shut its gates for the last time in September, 2008, people were understandably upset. But Central Amusement International stepped in, investing more than $15 million to build a new park, with 19 brand new rides by Zamperla, and a range of games, entertainment and food options. Named after a piece of Coney Island’s history, Luna Park is New York’s first new amusement park in decades, and helped Coney Island achieve its most successful summer in more than 40 years. In fact, in its inaugural season, Luna Park attracted more than 450,000 visitors who took more than 2-1/2 million rides.
But Luna Park was just the beginning of a process intended to fully restore Coney Island to the glory it enjoyed during its Golden Age. In 2011, Central Amusement International will unveil two additional components: a second amusement park called Scream Zone and a world-class Boardwalk. As I mentioned, the goal is ultimately a Coney Island capable of attracting visitors 365 days a year. It will be challenging, to be sure — but we believe it is possible. And a resurgent Boardwalk is essential to accomplishing this goal.
The multi-million dollar program will bring back the world-class mix of entertainment, dining and nightlife that was once a hallmark of the famed Boardwalk. It will feature some of Coney Island’s current tenants, as well as new tenants like a sit-down restaurant and sports bar — both of which will operate year-round. Like the new Luna Park, the Boardwalk will reflect the unique character and innovative spirit of Coney Island, bringing it into the future so that new generations of visitors can enjoy America’s Playground.
This continued revitalization of Coney Island is a model of effective partnership between the public and private sectors, resulting in new jobs and economic development for Brooklyn. In conjunction with Luna Park and next season’s thrilling addition, Scream Zone, our multi-million dollar investment in the Boardwalk will create a spectacular experience which will draw many visitors not only from Brooklyn and other parts of New York City, but also from throughout the world.
Valerio Ferrari is president of Central Amusement International.